Thinking of spraying on perfume, or cologne before you go out? You might want to think again. Most perfumes and colognes contain synthetic fragrances which are harmful to our bodies. Those synthetic fragrances, with different chemical combinations, are also in many everyday household products such as soaps, cosmetics, air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry products, and more. Hundreds of chemicals can be used under the umbrella term, “fragrance” and manufacturers don’t have to reveal the ingredients that comprise “fragrance”.
What Are Synthetic Fragrances?
Honestly, we don’t exactly know what “fragrance” is when it’s listed on an ingredient label. According to the FDA, “under U.S. regulations, fragrance and flavor ingredients can be listed simply as “Fragrance” or “Flavor”… Fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, and they are the kinds of cosmetic components that are most likely to be “trade secrets.” The “FDA requires the list of ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). This law is not allowed to be used to force a company to tell “trade secrets.””
According to the Environmental Working Group, “Fragrance secrecy is legal due to a giant loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels but explicitly exempts fragrance.”
So, in the simplest of terms – since the mixture of chemicals in a fragrance are considered a “trade secret”, consumers don’t know what they are getting when they use a product with fragrance in it. However, experts such as Dr. Mercola say, “fragrance ingredients may be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials.” He says that they also can include parabens, phthalates and synthetic musks – each of which are dangerous for our body.
Phthalates are one of the problem chemicals highlighted by the President’s Cancer Panel. Phthalates are colorless and odorless. They act as a carrier for fragrance chemicals to make the scent last longer. Phthalates also help fragrance stick to your skin. Manufacturers don’t want that fragrance to dissipate after you put it on! Unfortunately, phthalates can bioaccumulate in our bodies and can also cause harm. Both synthetic fragrances and phthalates can cause everything from skin irritation, allergies, and asthma, to hormone and endocrine disruption, organ toxicity and even cancer. Just think of all of the items you use on a regular basis which contain fragrance. It adds up!
If Fragrance is in a Product, it Was Tested, Right?
Unfortunately, the chemicals in fragrances are inadequately tested. In fact, of the over 5,000 ingredients used in the fragrance industry, only a small portion has been tested and evaluated by the industry’s International Research Institute for Fragrance Materials. In addition, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) Standards for fragrance is self-regulating. Between inadequate testing and ingredient loopholes, this poses a great concern.
The next time you decide that you need to smell better, or that your home needs to smell better, stop and think what you’re doing to your body. Is it really worth it?
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Tessa Simpson says
YES! I used to be a fragrance junky…now they synthetic variety make me gag!! Once you detox from it…it is so easy to smell the nastiness!
Glad to hear you’re a recovered fragrance user:)! You’re right, you can smell the nastiness in it after getting it out of your body. Hope more people do the same. Thanks for stopping by.
It is frightening to think about the toxins in fragrances! I agree that we shouldn’t place much confidence in the “testing” process.
Yes, there definitely needs to be a better job with testing ingredients. Not only testing them for allergy and skin irritation, but also for long-term use and the diseases they can contribute to. Thanks for stopping by.
Raia Todd says
I’ve never been able to use any products with fragrance in them, they give me headaches! Now I’m glad for it. Probably kept me healthier!
Yes, definitely – a blessing in disguise! Fragrances give me headaches too, along with other symptoms. Thanks for stopping by.
Carol Little R.H. @studiobotanica says
Such an informative article! I haven’t worn perfumes or synthetic colognes in 20+ years. If I do ‘wear’ a fragrance, it is more likely to be a dab of fave essential oil on my wrist. Mostly i ‘roll’ fragrance free! Definitely sharing your post. We need to help those who use or let’s say ‘douse’ themselves in fragrance that they are not doing themselves (or US!) any favours!
Thanks for sharing Carol! So many need to know this information. You’re right, they’re not doing any of us a favor. Glad to hear you don’t wear perfumes. I roll fragrance-free too:). Thanks for stopping by.
Shelby @Fitasamamabear says
Synthetic fragrances kill me now! Once you’ve removed them from your day to day life they kill your head when you’re around them.
Me too! Unfortunately, fragrance is in so many items. Many times people who use them can become desensitized to them, so they don’t even realize how bad it is for them and those around them. Ugh.