For years, high-end fragrances and celebrity-recommended perfumes and colognes were a highly desired, novelty item. Smelling of Chanel or Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue was considered a sign of luxury that only a person of status might afford. However, according to statistics, sales of extravagant fragrance products like these have dropped significantly in the last few years. It’s possible that one reason for this is that the world is becoming more informed about the toxic nature of these products. Although unfortunate for these companies, we like to consider this is overall good news.
The Toxic Truth About Commercial Perfumes & Colognes
Perhaps the reason fragrance companies got away with selling toxic products for so long is that they are not legally required to list their ingredients on the labels. Regulations have made it legal to keep their ingredients undisclosed by simply disgusting them under the term “fragrance”. In fact, a company can legally use over 400 ingredients under the single term to “protect” their trade formulas. Although there may be some credibility to protecting a company's formula, it should not be done at the expense of the end user's health.
Fortunately, the truth about commonly used ingredients in fragrance products is being exposed. Numerous studies have found that most of the most commonly used ingredients in commercial fragrance products can induce mild allergic reactions like headache, sinus inflammation, itchiness, runny nose and can contribute to worse issues such as hormonal imbalances, organ damage, and even cancer.
In 1986, the National Academy of Sciences tested commonly used fragrances for neurotoxicity; however, the results have still yet to be released. The good news is that many other tests have been done. In fact, in 1991 the EPA tested conventional, synthetic perfumes and found a long list of toxic chemical ingredients, including acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool, methylene chloride as well as phthalates, stearates, and parabens.
According to other studies, combined and alone these ingredients can evoke numerous health issues, including nervous system damage, kidney damage, respiratory failure, ataxia, intestinal inflammation, dizziness, fatigue and more. 1
Top 10 Known Chemical Ingredients in Fragrances
Getting into some of the specifics, here is a list of the top 10, known chemical ingredients used in popular fragrances and the research about their toxic effects:
Styrene: National Toxicology Program and the National Academy of Science, have declared styrene to be an anticipated human carcinogen” in 2011. 2, 3
Phthalates: Studies have found that phthalates are endocrine disruptors that can decrease IQ by 6 points in children whose mothers were exposed to them during pregnancy. The use of phthalates have also been linked to sperm damage in studies. Also, phthalates are also considered “obesogens” which means they can suppress the metabolism and contribute to obesity. 4
Musk ketone: A skin irritant and hormone disruptor. 5
- Benzaldehyde: This substance is a known narcotic, lung and eye irritant. It causes nausea, abdominal pain, and kidney damage.
- Benzyl acetate: Known carcinogen, which causes eye and lung irritation as well as coughing.
- Camphor: Can cause dizziness, confusion, nausea, muscle twitching, convulsions.
- Ethyl acetate: Can cause eye and respiratory irritation.
- Limonene: Known carcinogenic.
- Linalool: Can cause respiratory disturbances in animal studies, depression, and central nervous system disorders.
- Methylene chloride: This substance has actually been banned by the FDA due to severe toxic effects; however, the ban is not enforced as it still may be found in labels listing “fragrance”.
Protecting Your Health from Toxic Scents
The good news is that protecting your body and health from the dangers of toxic chemicals in popular fragrance products is quite simple. First, become aware of them, avoid them and substitute with natural alternatives.
Here are some tips on how to avoid the dangers of toxic perfume chemicals while and also still smelling good:
- Avoid most commercial personal care products from big box stores - this is a general piece of advice, considering the fact that most of the very large manufacturers use low quality, toxic ingredients to increase profit margins. Unless you know your favorite product has switched to a more organic label deck, you’re better avoiding them.
- If you are unsure about your regular products quality/toxicity, then simply check the labels. Look for any of the chemicals we listed here today and also avoid any product with the ingredient “fragrance” or “perfume” on the label. These are usually chemical cocktails containing hundreds of ingredients.
- Look for products that contain recognizable, natural ingredients and scent their products with organic essential oils. If you are unsure about an ingredient, look it up before buying.
Lastly, keep in mind we have finally released “Presence” – a completely natural, non-toxic and luxuriously smelling unisex fragrance. You can rest assured it was created with the same integrity as the rest of our products, which are both supportive of your health and desire for natural beauty.
Experience the All-Natural, Unisex, Sexy & Sensual Alitura Presence.
"Sweet and musky sandalwood grabs you by the nostrils and won’t let you forget the first time you got a whiff of this sexy and perfectly balanced spritz. If you’re familiar with Le Labo’s Santal 33, this natural perfume has a few very similar notes.”
– Chalkboard Magazine
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