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If your skin care product claims to be fragrance free, but contains essential oils, you should be aware that it may irritate your skin. If you have sensitive skin, you may already know this first hand.  

Recent research has shown that the properties of some essential oils can be altered when they come into contact with oxygen and certain enzymes on skin. This could be particularly problematic for individuals with sensitive skin, even if the oil is not allergenic in its pure form.

Lavender Oil and Geraniol Oil Problematic  

A researcher in Sweden looked at two oils commonly incorporated into skin care formulations - lavender oil and geraniol oil. Lavender oil was found to react with the oxygen in the air, forming hydroperoxides, which are strong allergens. Previous studies have indicated that it does not form allergens when reacting with the skin.

Geraniol oil was found to both react with skin enzymes as well as oxidizing in contact with the air, resulting in the formation of the same allergenic compound in both cases — geranial. Geranial is also an irritant. Although the reaction in sufferers can look the same, allergens cause an immune response whereas irritants damage the surface of the skin causing inflammation.

If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid products containing certain essential oils. At the very least, make note of products that irritate your skin to find out if an essential oil component may be responsible. In particular watch out for products labeled as being natural or organic. Essential oils are often incorporated as preservatives or fragrance and they can be particularly problematic.  

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].

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