Non-Toxic Fragrance – Is There Such a Thing?
What’s that scent? More importantly, what’s in that scent? Probably poison.
Fragrance, natural fragrance, parfum, essential oil blends, what’s the difference? Could the “fragrance” in your favourite scent be toxic? What about the scent in your makeup, in your hair products, face creams, in your laundry soap?
Does a scent ever bring back a memory for you? Our sense of smell is very closely linked with memory. The smell of Grandma’s house. The smell of brownies baking. The smell of your brother. Who doesn’t remember those things?
Those smells are pretty natural (unless your brother smells like Axe). We also associate scents with cleanliness, or lack thereof. The personal and home care product industries have been banking on that for decades, making scent a major product feature.
In spite of manufactured scents’ association with cleanliness, they have some dirty little secrets.
Fragrances are considered trade secrets so manufacturers aren’t required to list their ingredients on product labels. The word “fragrance” is all that’s required on a label and “fragrance” can contain dozens of toxic ingredients.
“Natural” fragrances can be as toxic as synthetic fragrances, there is no criteria for what “natural fragrance” means so you never know what you’re actually getting.
Chemicals used to make fragrances are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers, neurotoxins, and carcinogens. Fragrances also commonly contain phthalates which help preserve the scent. Health risks for phthalates include cancer, human reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and respiratory problems.
What does this mean? These chemicals can and do trigger allergies and asthma. They can and do disrupt your hormones, disturbing the fine balance that ensures typical development, behaviour, fertility, cell metabolism and so on. Neurotoxins alter the structure or function of the nervous system and carcinogens cause cancer. How can these get into your system if you’re not ingesting them? THEY PASS THROUGH YOUR SKIN AND INTO YOUR BLOOD STREAM.
For more information about fragrance and its health risks visit safecosmetics.org
To check out the safety of your favourite fragrance, download the Think Dirty app.
But I love to smell sweet! What are some alternatives?
High quality, plant-based essential oils can create lovely, safe fragrance and can also be beneficial for your skin. Unfortunately, you need to beware with these also, as potentially hazardous chemicals have been found in some brands of essential oils.
You can find a brand you can trust by determining whether they’re all-natural or organic and if they were farmed responsibly. How are their ingredients rated by the Environmental Working Group? How does Think Dirty rate the product overall? If you can’t find a complete list of their ingredients, contact them and ask for it. Most safe perfume creators will happily supply that.
You can also create your own custom blend by combining a few of your favourite essential oils with a carrier oil. Learn the Dos of blending here.
Keep in mind that the hazards of fragrances aren’t limited to your perfume. Anything that you have or use with fragrance in it – soaps, dryer sheets, cleaners, air fresheners, cosmetics, skin care – all carry the same risks as your perfume.
Be safe, friends! Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to contact the manufacturers of your favourite products to find out what’s in them and encourage them to choose safer alternatives.
Do you have a favourite natural perfume brand? Let us know in the comments below!