Why You Should Avoid Fragrances in Skin Care and Personal Care Items

If you smell something enticingly fragrant when you lather on lotions or spritz yourself with perfume, it was probably derived from toxic synthetic chemicals.  It seems odd that thousands of perfumes, colognes, personal care items and skin care products are laced with such harmful ingredients considering they are so prevalent in the marketplace.  Unfortunately, the pleasant scents you’ve come to enjoy could be damaging to your health. 

In most consumer products, fragrances come from petrochemicals, which are petroleum-based toxins.  Some of the most common petrochemicals are phthalates, aldehydes, and benzene-based compounds.  They can accumulate in tissues in the human body, contributing to body toxicity and a sluggish system.  In addition to toxins from fragrances, our bodies store toxins from a variety of other sources in the beauty industry.  The cumulative effect is incredibly hazardous to a person’s health and wellbeing.   Over time as more toxins build-up, they can lead to health problems including many serious diseases and organ damage.  

Fragrances added to products can be deceiving on several levels.  First, many scents are designed to smell like nature.  Their goal is to capture the essence of a particular flower, plant, fruit or environment, like the ocean or a spring breeze.  However, the process by which these fragrances are achieved involves very little nature.  Instead, synthetic chemicals are used to recreate the natural smell.  There are over 3,000 stock chemical ingredients that go into fragrant products.  Many of them are harmful when they accumulate in the body. 

Due to trade secrets, manufactures are not required to list fragrance ingredients as they must do for cosmetic ingredients.  This huge oversight in the Federal Packaging and Fair Trade Act of 1973 protects the industry from revealing their unique fragrance formulas, but it doesn’t protect citizens who suffer the consequences of the residual toxins these products leave behind in our bodies.

Fragrant products designed for the sole purpose of making us smell good, like perfumes, colognes and body sprays, contain the most petrochemicals.  Other personal and skin care products that have different primary functions like lotions, creams, deodorants, body washes, bath products, lip balms and many others, still contain synthetic fragrance chemicals that are damaging to the body.  These are sometimes the trickiest sources of hidden toxins because consumers buy the products for their primary goal – moisturizing, cleaning, toning, hydrating – but are then exposed to additional unnatural chemicals.

The Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics both put pressure on the government to correct the grave lapses in safety standards.  As part of their evidence, they presented a study of 17 leading fragrances.  It revealed 38 unnamed toxic chemicals and proved that an average of 14 chemicals were used in most fragrances.  

The petrochemicals found in fragrances have been linked to many life-threatening and life-changing health problems.  These include cancer, birth defects, diabetes, obesity, allergies, behavioral problems, headaches and neurological disorders.  As many toxins do, they can disrupt the endocrine system, create hormone abnormalities.  It takes its toll on reproductive hormones most of all, as studies show damaged sperm as a result of toxic exposure. 

Fragrances are hidden toxins that can be avoided.  Let your nose be your guide.  You may not be able to locate toxic chemicals as an ingredient on labels, but you can actively seek fragrance-free products.  This is important for the health of your skin, your organs and your longevity.  Be sure you’re doing the same for your children, especially babies.  Many baby care products like wipes and bath products add fragrances with the same toxins as adult products.  Nature Veda believes fragrance free is the only way to be! 

Erin Stieglitz
Erin Stieglitz