Generic big brand fragrances contain chemicals linked to cancer, liver and kidney damage, immune and reproductive system disruption – and neurotoxins. Legally, perfume brands are allowed to bundle any of 3,100 fragrance ingredients into a product under the term ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’. Most of these secret fragrance chemicals have not been assessed by the FDA for safety in spray-on perfumes.
A 2010 study commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysed the chemicals present in 17 popular fragrances. They found a total of 38 chemicals not listed on the labels in 17 name-brand fragrances (including Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Clinique, Old Spice and Calvin Klein among others). Here are some of the toxic chemicals they identified in the perfumes:
- Phthalates – really, really bad for us
In 2015 The Guardian reported that “researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioural issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.”
By ‘neurodevelopmental issues’ they mean that phthalates can literally affect your baby’s development – The Washington Post reported that children whose mothers were exposed to phthalates during pregnancy had an IQ 6 points lower than expected.
Perfumes and colognes can also mean fewer swimmers. Yes, guys – your potency can be affected! The common fragrance chemical diethyl phthalate has been to linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies.
- Endocrine disruptors – messing up your life
Our endocrine system produces the hormones that regulate sleep, metabolism and reproduction. All the things you want to work perfectly!
In addition to the fragrance chemicals, researchers have estimated that 80% of the chemicals in most perfumes are synthetic petrochemical compounds. In 1991 the EPA tested fragrances and found the toxic perfume ingredients acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool and methylene chloride. Parabens are synthetic preservatives which interfere with hormone production and release. Nasty.
- Synthetic musks
Linked to hormone disruption, musk ketone is a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.
Various other chemicals which can cause headaches, dizziness, rashes, hyperpigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation – and possibly even weight gain!
When we inhale or touch these toxic chemicals, they are absorbed into the bloodstream and stored in tissues and organs. Our fat cells can hold increasing amounts of toxins for decades, leading to long term exposure. Some people develop heightened sensitivity to perfumes and suffer allergic reactions, migraines, asthma attacks, nausea, eczema, and other symptoms.
Toxic fragrance chemicals permeate our daily lives
The fragrance industry launches around 800 new fragrances every year, but perfume isn’t the only place we are exposed to synthetic fragrance chemicals. Shampoos, lotions, bath products, cleaning sprays, air fresheners and laundry and dishwashing detergents also contain strongly scented, volatile ingredients hidden behind the ingredient ‘fragrance’.
Nazaroff (2004) showed that some ingredients even react with ozone in our homes to create potentially harmful secondary air pollutants such as formaldehyde and ultrafine particles.
Be warned – even ‘unscented’ products contain synthetic masking fragrances; only ‘fragrance-free’ means that a product has no fragrance. It’s not just the fragrance chemicals that stink! In addition to the scent chemicals, perfumes also contain synthetic solvents, stabilizers, UV absorbers, preservatives and dyes.
Want to smell delicious, but live healthy?
Us too! That’s why we are always on the lookout for beautiful cruelty free perfumes and 100% natural fragrances. We have collected our favourite toxin-free, cruelty free perfumes here for you. These natural perfumes use essential oils as the source of their lovely fragrances – you’ll love the scent, and your body will love you!
Browse the full range of Oh Natural perfume and shop online now!