Do You Need a Separate Hair Fragrance?

Skin Care


There’s something about leaving a room and knowing that your scent lingers a moment in the air that’s empowering. After all, scent is the strongest link to memory. It’s that fleeting reminder that you’ve just gone, keeping people thinking of you even when you aren’t there.

That’s why it’s so tempting to add a spritz of perfume or two to your hair so that every part of you has that signature scent. Unfortunately, perfumes, and even some hair fragrances, might be damaging your lovely locks.

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Why Putting Perfume in Your Hair Can Damage it

Your signature scent may be perfect, but if your hair is dry, spritzing it on your locks might make them worse.

Many perfumes contain the wrong kinds of alcohol. While those of the fatty long chain variety, like cetyl and stearyl alcohol can be moisturizing and beneficial to your skin and hair, some like denatured alcohol or ethanol can do harm.

Now, that doesn’t mean that alcohol denature or ethanol is always bad in products. Alcohol in fragrance exists for a different reason than alcohol in skin care products. Alcohol is frequently used as a solvent, which helps in extracting scents, and is also used to create synthetic scents (Perfumery Practice and Products).

While this helps the perfume dry quickly, while adherents work to keep the scent on your body, it can also dry out hair and, depending on what method you use for perfuming your body, your skin. This is because the alcohol binds to the water in hair and skin and when it flies away so too goes the moisture (Naturally Curly).

[Read More: Is Fragrance in Skin Care Good or Bad?]

Why Hair Fragrances Might Be Better, But Be Careful Choosing!

Hair fragrances are formulated specifically for hair, which means that they often contain hair-softening silicones and antioxidants that help to protect hair in addition to making it smell lovely.

Unfortunately, many popular fragrances list denatured alcohol as the first ingredient. That means that if you’re already prone to dry or frizzy hair, you’re just roughing up your cuticle further. Go for a hair fragrance that doesn’t have alcohol first, but remember that alcohol serves many purposes in skin and hair care so it’s not a problem if a hair fragrance has some alcohol.

Often times, products that are meant to condition or add shine have added fragrances, so you can get scent and shine in one bottle.

Which Hair Fragrances to Choose

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner ($20.44,

Carols_daughterOne option for hair perfuming is a leave-in conditioning spray with a pleasing scent. Carol’s Daughter contains panthenol, the penetrating moisturizer that comes from vitamin B-5. Panthenol not only acts as a humectant, pulling moisture from the environment, it’s also been shown in studies to reduce breakage on both virgin and chemically treated hair (International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Drug and Cosmetics Industry).

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In addition to moisturizing ingredients such as panthenol and sodium hyaluronate, a natural moisturizing factor, this leave-in conditioner has plenty of scents, including: black vanilla, honeysuckle, sage, and lavender. Lavender gets mixed reviews because has a soothing scent and it’s been shown to serve as a decent antioxidant, but it also has a history of causing allergic reactions and contact dermatitis (Photochemistry and Photobiology, Contact Dermatitis). Just be sure to patch test this on your skin before spraying it.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Polysorbate 80, Glycerin, Panthenol ( Pro-vitamin B5), Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Butylene Glycol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf Stem, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Caramel, Fragrance (Parfum)

Orofluido Beauty Elixir ($16.40,

OrofluidoThis is scent is an amber and vanilla mixture in an elixir that helps to moisturizer hair or to add shine. The first three ingredients in this elixir are silicones, which means they’ll coat hair and lock in moisture. This not only makes brushing hair easier, it also reduces combing force and helps protect against the potentially harsh damage from heat styling (HAPPI, Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists). While silicones can build up in hair, buildup isn’t problematic for everyone and can be relieved with the right shampoo.

[Read More: Are Silicones in Hair Products Good or Bad?]

In addition to silicones, Orofluido Beauty Elixir also contains argan oil, which helps to protect your hair from UV-rays, maintaining color and shine (Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology). It also contains beneficial antioxidants, as well as linoleic and oleic acids (European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology).

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclotetrasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Cyperus Esculentus Root Oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Isopropyl Palmitate, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, CI 47000 (Yellow 11), CI 26100 (Red 17)

Redken Nature’s Rescue Radian Sea Spray ($16.82,

Soy proteins benefit skin and hair because they have antixoidants, essential fatty acids, isoflavones, lecithins, and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, saponins, phytosterols, minerals, and vitamins (Johnson & Johnson). And aloe, as abovementioned, provides plenty of moisture and also has antibacterial properties (University of Maryland Medical Center).

And to top it off, this hair scent is reminiscent of the beach, something a bit different from the usual sweet vanillas and floral fragrances that a lot of other hair products have.

Ingredients: Sea Algae, Soy Protein, Aloe Vera, Oceanic Calone

Bottom Line

Many of us want our scent all over, but often times, perfumes can have drying alcohol as one of the first ingredients. This is particularly problematic if your hair is dry or frizzy, because the alcohol will cling to moisture and take it along when it evaporates.

Fortunately, there are plenty of hair products out there that can give your hair a pleasant fragrance without stripping it of moisture. Better yet, some products can actually benefit your hair, so while you give your hair some extra scent, you can also up the shine factor.

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