Toxic Fragrances: Is Your Favorite Perfume Hazardous to Your Health?

July 09, 2016

Toxic Fragrances: Is Your Favorite Perfume Hazardous to Your Health?

Who doesn't like to smell good? I'm sure you have a favorite perfume or cologne you just can't live without. Actually, living without it could be better for your health. Let's explore toxic fragrances and whether or not your perfume is hazardous to your health.

The problem with commercial perfumes is that they typically have tons of chemicals lurking in them. Why? Because of The Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973. While this act required cosmetic ingredients to be listed on product labels (a great thing), fragrances were exempt. This means that for the fragrance industry, anything goes! Fragrance manufactures can put whatever they want in their perfumes, even ingredients that are known to be harmful to your health.

All of these chemical fragrances are grouped together under "fragrance" on a label. That is one of the many ingredients I look at in a product. If a label reads "fragrance" and that fragrance is not essential-oil based, I put it right back on the shelf.

Because fragrances are considered a trade secret (how convenient), companies don't have to list any of the numerous synthetic chemical compounds they contain. Sadly, there are over 5000 different ingredients (or shall I say chemicals) that make up these toxic fragrances.

Here are some alarming statistics shared by Dr. Mercola:

  • "Only about 1,300 fragrance ingredients have actually been tested and evaluated.
  • 16% of the colognes, fragrances, and perfumes reviewed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) use carcinogenic ingredients. 18% contained penetration enhancers that increase the exposure to carcinogens and other harmful ingredients.
  • About 95% of the chemicals used as fragrance ingredients are petroleum-based chemicals.
  • The EWG found that there are 38 secret chemicals found in 17 brand name perfumes, including those by Armani and Chanel.
  • The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products."

Two Chemicals You Want to Avoid

This mix of chemicals commonly found in popular colognes and perfumes makes it impossible for us to make informed decisions about products we are considering. That is why I recommend staying away from all those fragrances that make my nose run as soon as I walk into a department store.

Two of the most common ingredients found in fragrances are phthalates (pronounced tha–lates) and synthetic musk. Phthalates are a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies, asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, birth defects, cancer, organ damage, and immune suppression. They are banned in Europe. Why are they still used in the US?

Synthetic musks are linked to hormone disruption, organ system toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity. Musk chemicals like ketone and xylene have been found in human breast milk and fat tissue.

These harmful chemicals in fragrances among many others are either inhaled or absorbed through the skin and can accumulate in your body. If we were exposed to a toxin here a toxin there, that would be one thing. The problem is that the more cosmetic and personal care products we use, the more we pollute our bodies and the more toxins we accumulate over time.

Most women use 13 cosmetics or personal care products on a daily basis so you can just imagine how quickly we can accumulate toxin chemicals if we aren't careful.

Altearah Bio The Perfect Fragrance

Dr. Mercola advises that in order to protect yourself and those around you, avoid all artificial fragrances and switch to natural scents made from high-quality, 100 percent pure essential oils instead.

Essential oils come from plants and can not only smell heavenly, they have therapeutic benefits that fragrances just don't provide. Another winner in my book. Smell good and feel reenergized. Smell good and have more confidence. Smell good and feel more relaxed. You don't have to compromise your health to smell good.  That is why I only use Altearah Eau de Parfum and Serums to not only smell good but to reap the health benefits associated with the various essential oils used.

Altearah is a boutique company based in Provence, France that handcrafts all of its products. Their products are 100% certified organic and cruelty-free.

When I discovered Altearah in November of 2009, it was love at first sniff. I've been using the line every day since and can't imagine using anything else. And I'm not the only one... Kathryn in Arizona told me that she loves her fragrances so much that she will never go back to using anything else but Altearah.

For more information about Altearah and its products, I invite you to check out their organic perfumes.

Whatever you do, please think twice before buying any product with a "fragrance" that is not essential-oil based and spraying any synthetic fragrance on your skin or in your home (see my previous blog on air fresheners and the healthier alternative). 

If you can't imagine parting ways with your signature fragrance that you've been using for decades but you know is no bueno, I suggest that spray your sleeve or collar instead of your skin and don't inhale when you spray.