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Why do we love scented skincare? (And a throwback to Dessert Beauty by Jessica Simpson).

Last week I was reminded again of Jessica Simpson’s 2004 beauty line launch for Dessert Beauty.

I have to say, I don’t remember seeing these products around town in Australia when they were released (but I do remember Stuf or stuf. styled with the period there, with a store that had shimmery heavily-scented musk body powder which I used probably 3-4 times before it was tucked away in the bathroom cabinet), although I’m sure I would have definitely liked to try these products!

Anyway, the idea behind the Dessert Beauty brand was that everything was delicious, cupcake-flavoured and edible (with some creative copy and workarounds I’m sure). I’ve since rewatched the episode of Newlyweds with Jessica & Nick where she’s shooting the promo images for the launch, in a quilted pink corset top, and she has to hold a finger-ful of frosting next to her mouth for (what seems to be) hours and then she begins to feel nauseous and her mum/assistants bring her a savoury breakfast plate which she wants to eat on the floor of the studio bathroom.

(Seriously, it’s linked on YouTube, enjoy!)

The line may now be gone (I’m keen for a cruelty-free reboot though in 2021 though!) after a series lawsuits and rebrands, but it made be reflect on how we LOVE this kind of universally “nice” smelling products.

Now l know what you’re thinking, sugary-sweet isn’t everyone’s jam, but you might then love the mini toiletries from a hotel visit and enjoy suds-ing up with a perfumed shower gel, or love to dive into your cleansing balm that smells “just like a spa!”.

There’s a sensory experience with skincare and body products when they smell fantastic, and even though we know now that heavily-fragranced skincare isn’t always great for our skin, we keep using it.

On the flip side, certain ingredients and potent actives can have a different smell entirely, and not always a nice one - there’s a certain $200+ dollar Vitamin C serum that has been reported as being “like hotdog water” despite the miraculous results.

There’s a lot of debate now in the skincare/chemist/dermatology community about just how much impact fragrance has on our skin - at first there was a complete ban on fragrance for many skin fanatics, but now it seems there a pushback for a realistic approach to how much fragrance has an impact on skin health, and where to draw the line between fear-mongering and genuine concern.

For me personally, I aim for fragrance free whenever possible because I know it reacts badly. For someone who has easygoing skin, you might love your ~ enter designer name here ~ night cream and appreciate the floral fragrance because it also reminds you of the brand as a whole.

When the skin barrier is compromised, our skin can also react worse to things like fragrance that it would under normal circumstances, so it’s important to keep in mind if you’re adding in something like a laser treatment or a retinoid to your routine - fragrance is unlikely to improve your skin health, but the psychological appeal of “me time” has given way to a whole host of citrus cleansers, banana eye creams and sugary lip balms, and hey - if it works, more power to you!


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