Ad Alert

Dial Complete ‘Fragrance Free’ Hand Wash

How can a "fragrance free" product contain fragrance?


Ad Alert

Dial Complete ‘Fragrance Free’ Hand Wash

UPDATE 9/30/22: In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Dial said the hand wash is in fact fragrance free and the discrepancy on packaging is the result of a “labeling error” that the company is in the process of correcting. Our original ad alert follows.

Something smells funny about this “fragrance free” claim.

A reader on Twitter recently alerted to a contradiction on packaging for Dial’s Complete Clean + Gentle Hypoallergenic Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash:

( visited a local pharmacy and confirmed this packaging is currently in use.)

Our reader’s concerns were echoed by some Amazon reviews for the product that mention issues with sensitive skin or allergies. These reviews may not be surprising given that “fragrance” is “an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients,” some of which have been linked to “allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system,” according to the Environmental Working Group. (Of note, EWG rates the “Allergies & Immunotoxicity” concern as “high” for this “hypoallergenic” product due to the inclusion of benzalkonium chloride, another potential allergen.)

Consumers looking for a fragrance-free or “hypoallergenic” hand washing experience should be aware that although the FDA regulates allergen labeling for food, it does not regulate most soaps, and does not define the term “hypoallergenic.” The agency advises consumers:

…if you are concerned about fragrance sensitivities, you may want to…check the ingredient list carefully. If consumers have questions, they may choose to contact the manufacturer directly.

Even a product that doesn’t have a scent may contain fragrance ingredients to mask the unpleasant smell of other ingredients, according to the FDA, so don’t rely on the sniff test either.

The bottom line: If you have concerns about fragrances or other allergens, always read the ingredients list for yourself. And ask questions if something isn’t clear. Otherwise, marketing language might *literally* get under your skin. reached out to Dial for comment. Check back for updates.

For more of’s coverage of soap products, click here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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