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The right kind of frangrances can provide important benefits

JOHNSON’S® is continually pioneering novel ways to support positive engagement and emotional connection between parents and infants.

A growing body of evidence-based literature suggests that infant skin care products with a gentle, purposefully included fragrance can be highly beneficial. Infants respond positively to olfactory stimulation; gentle fragrances can enhance calm and reduce stress in both parents and infants, encouraging bonding through bath and before-bed routines, and preparing baby for sleep (Figure 1).6-11

However, given the vulnerability of an infant’s skin, fragrances should pass rigorous testing and comply with strict global standards.

Contact dermatitis in infants

Topical skin care ingredients, such as some fragrances and preservatives, are among the most common contact allergens,17 and there is some concern about the inclusion of fragrances in infant products.18

The skin of infants – particularly the stratum corneum – is thinner than that of adults, making it more vulnerable to topical irritants and allergens.18 Irritant contact dermatitis can develop from birth, as a direct result of contact with irritants that cause changes in the skin pH or cellular lipids, followed by immune cell activation and an inflammatory response.18 Allergic contact dermatitis can develop from as early as six months of age, due to cumulative exposure of the immature skin immune system to sensitising agents that lead to skin barrier deterioration.18, 19 The presence of allergic contact dermatitis also increases skin sensitivity to irritants.18

Products claiming to be ‘natural’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ are not necessarily less sensitising17

The prevalence of contact dermatitis is rising globally, largely due to the increasing use of non-regulated herbal or ‘natural’ ingredients – particularly fragrances.17, 18 Clearly, products described as ‘natural’ may not be truly hypoallergenic, nor specially formulated to be safe for the unique needs of infant skin.

There is a lack of standardised criteria for product claims stating ‘fragrance free’ or ‘unscented’. Products carrying these claims may still contain aromatic compounds such as fragrance oils (including plant-derived essential oils) which are not specifically included for their fragrance, but which mask the inherent scent of other ingredients.4 Many such ingredients, even if claimed to be ‘natural’, can act as irritants or allergens.18, 20

JOHNSON’S® formulates its products to be safe and gentle to delicate infant skin

JOHNSON’S® enhances the pleasure of bath and before-bed routines for babies and their parents, using gentle fragrances purposefully designed to enhance positive emotions and bonding. Using our in-depth knowledge of infant skin, we ensure our formulations are ultra-mild, to minimise skin irritation and allergic reactions.4, 5, 21-23 

Each formulation meets or exceeds global regulatory standards for delicate newborn skin.4, 5 JOHNSON’S® has among the highest standards in the industry for fragrance ingredients, putting each through rigorous dermal sensitisation potential testing.4 We ensure that all known allergens, and a continually expanding list* of potential allergens, are not included in our formulations. Our fragrance policy requires that all fragrances, at a minimum, comply with current International Fragrance Association (IFRA) standards.4 In addition, we go above and beyond to ensure our products do not contain fragrance allergens as identified by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), an independent scientific committee of the European Commission.5 JOHNSON’S® fragrance standards are so highly regarded that they have been used to develop global guidance for baby product categories.24

All our products are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, soaps, dyes†, and fragrance allergens*.1, 5

With our balanced view of nature and science, and our commitment to transparency in our formulations, healthcare professionals can confidently trust and recommend JOHNSON’S® baby range as safe to use from the very first moments of life.

†Excluding Cooling Bar soap, Pink Blossoms Bar Soap, Active Fresh Wash, Cooling Wash
*List of fragrance allergens as identified by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety of the European Commission, 2012.
Use all products only as directed.
©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2018


1. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Global Claims Database.
2. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. IHUT Behavioral Testing.
3. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Updated February 2, 2017. Accessed February 6, 2018.
4. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Fragrance Fact Sheet.
5. European Commission. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. Opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products, June 26- 27, 2012. Accessed March 7, 2018.
6. Sullivan RM, Taborsky-Barba S, Mendoza R, et al. Olfactory classical conditioning in neonates. Pediatrics. 1991;87:511-8.
7. Weber ST, Heuberger E. The impact of natural odors on affective states in humans. Chem Senses. 2008;33:441-7.
8. White-Traut R, Watanabe K, Wiegand B. Behavioral and neurohormonal responses of mothers and their children during two bath conditions. Poster presented at: University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing. 2004.
9. Chen D, Dalton P. The effect of emotion and personality on olfactory perception. Chem Senses. 2005;30:345-51.
10. Field T, Field T, Cullen C, et al. Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants. Early Hum Dev. 2008;84:399-401.
11. Rattaz C, Goubet N, Bullinger A. The calming effect of a familiar odor on full-term newborns. Behavioral Pediatrics. 2005;26:86-92.
12. Telofski LS, Morello AP, 3rd, Mack Correa MC, Stamatas GN. The infant skin barrier: can we preserve, protect, and enhance the barrier? Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:198789.
13. Gottfried JA, Smith AP, Rugg MD, Dolan RJ. Remembrance of odors past: human olfactory cortex in cross-modal recognition memory. Neuron. 2004;42:687-95.
14. Herz RS. A naturalistic analysis of autobiographical memories triggered by olfactory visual and auditory stimuli. Chem Senses. 2004;29:217-24.
15. Larsson M, Willander J. Autobiographical odor memory. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009;1170:318-23.
16. Sullivan RM, Toubas P. Clinical usefulness of maternal odor in newborns: soothing and feeding preparatory responses. Biol Neonate. 1998;74:402-8.
17. Goossens A. Contact-allergic reactions to cosmetics. J Allergy (Cairo). 2011;2011:467071.
18. Pigatto P, Martelli A, Marsili C, Fiocchi A. Contact dermatitis in children. Ital J Pediatr. 2010;36:2.
19. Lavender T, Bedwell C, Roberts SA, et al. Randomized, controlled trial evaluating a baby wash product on skin barrier function in healthy, term neonates. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2013;42:203-14.
20. U.S. Food & Drug Administration website Aromatherapy. Updated October 5, 2016. Accessed August 22, 2017.
21. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. UL Palette Screening Report. May 2016.
22. State of California Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity—July 7, 2017. Accessed October 13, 2017.
23. Johnson & Johnson. CI Safety and Care Commitment Website.
24. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. IFRA Conformity Certificate, Honey Delight.

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