Perfumes and fragrances make up the largest portion of cosmetic and personal care products, representing half of all money that is spent on beauty goods. Exposure to toxic ingredients in such items is predominantly through the skin – yet many of us smear these chemicals onto our body every day.
Many people are sensitive to perfumes, finding it difficult just to walk through department stores. Even if you don’t have a particular sensitivity to them, their toxic effects can be overwhelming.
With more than 500 potential chemicals that may be used under the word “fragrance,” found on all types of products in addition to perfumes and colognes, it can be difficult to avoid them.
Fragrance might be found in room air fresheners, cosmetics, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, candles and a host of other products. Since they aren’t meant to be ingested, manufacturers don’t have to list their ingredients on the label. They aren’t required to reveal specific ingredients in anything that might qualify as fragrance because these are protected as a trade secret.
According to a report published by the Environmental Working Group, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not assessed the vast majority of these “secret fragrance chemicals” for safety when used in spray-on personal care products.
Most of them have not been evaluated by any type of publicly accountable institution either. This same report included results of lab tests performed on a number of popular, name-brand fragrances like Halle by Halle Berry, Clinique’s Happy Perfume and Calvin Klein’s Eternity. As a group, they contained 38 secret chemicals, averaging 14 that weren’t listed on any label.
Potential side effects of toxic fragrance chemicals
The report also revealed that the chemicals found have been linked to hormone disruption and allergic reactions in addition to having harmful properties and a propensity to accumulate in human tissues.
Some of the most common chemicals used in perfume include ethanol, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, a-pinene, acetone, benzyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, linalool, a-terpinene, methylene chloride, styrene oxide, dimethyl sulphate, a-terpineol, camphor, and limonene.
Some of these are known to cause irritability, mental vagueness, muscle pain, asthma, bloating, joint aches, sinus pain, fatigue, sore throat, eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, laryngitis, headaches, dizziness, swollen lymph nodes, spikes in blood pressure, coughing, and burning or itching skin irritations.
Acetaldehyde is a probable human carcinogen that also crosses the placenta to the fetus. The chemical industry’s Toxic Data Safety Sheet lists headaches, tremors, convulsions, and even death as a possible effect of exposure – and this is just one example of a dangerous chemical used in fragrance.
The FDA has direct authority under the terms of the 1938 Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act to regulate the toxic ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics. Three-quarters of a century later, it has still failed to do so.
Alternatives to perfume
With such a long list of possible harmful effects, why would anyone knowingly use perfume? Going au natural is a much better option.
If you really can’t live without wearing some kind of scent, consider using an essential oil, which is a concentrated aroma compound made from flowers and herbs combined with an oil carrier.
Use only pure essential oils; an oil that has been extracted with a cold-press process instead of a solvent. Keep in mind that most should not be applied directly to the skin without being diluted in water first.
The bottom line is – are plenty of alternatives to making yourself ill with a perfume or cologne.
-The Alternative Daily