Dangers of Fragrance Includes Cancer, Asthma, Infertility, Birth Defects + More

If the only thing you did for your health today was to drop all the synthetic fragrance you use, often unknowingly, in your daily life - your overall sense of health and well-being would increase dramatically.

The public awareness on how bad chemicals are in our everyday personal care items has risen dramatically over the past decade. You only have to scan the beauty aisle and you will notice most product labels are now highlighting the fact they are paraben, SLS and sulphate free.

However, turn the label over and start reading the ingredients. Those big lengthy words remain to be confusing for the everyday consumer - yet our minds tell us that it is paraben, SLS and sulphate free -  so it must be good for us. We buy the product thinking we are making a greener and healthier choice.

Well, today I want you to look a little closer at those labels - especially the ingredient "fragrance". Unlike coconut oil, jojoba oil or lavender oil, fragrance is not an actual raw ingredient. It is a chemical cocktail of toxic petroleum and coal-derived synthetic chemicals, 'fragrance' is the common term used for whatever trade secret ingredients companies want to add to their products.

Fragrance, also called parfum, is a key ingredient in perfumes, colognes, body lotions, shampoos, body washes and even lipsticks. It is also put in detergents, soaps, household cleaners, diapers, candles, medications, cosmetics, and sunscreen. Actually - truth be told - its put in almost everything.

It's even put in those products that are marketed as  ‘unscented’. Believe it or not, there is a chemical concoction that create that "non-scent".

Let's take a short moment today to look at all the reasons why fragrance is bad and how you can avoid it

WHAT is “fragrance?”

Fragrance is in everything, its purpose is to give the product a nice smell, or alternatively it is put in products to mask the chemical smells from the toxic ingredients.

More than 95 percent of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals. These chemicals include: benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates, and a slew of other known toxins that are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, nervous-system disorders and allergies. 

WHERE is it hiding?

Toxic fragrant ingredients are virtually in everything, masquerading under the identity of "fragrance" or "perfum".

WHY should I avoid it?

Fragrance is bad. It causes disease and disruption in the body along with poisoning our beautiful planet. Here are a few of the main concerns that research has uncovered: 

Allergies: Fragrance can cause sensitivities which often lead into full blown allergies that often can't be reversed. Pretty much any sensitivities to consumer products is caused because your body doesn't like what you are doing to it. It is trying to get your attention by causing a reaction in your body to hopefully make you stop.  However, if you refuse to listen, your body over time will become sensitised. Once your body becomes sensitised, the only way to prevent the development of a severe, irreversible allergy is to avoid further exposure to that ingredient.

Respiratory Diseases and Irritation: Inhaling the toxic fumes of fragrance is unavoidable. Inhalation of fragrance can not only provoke a severe asthmatic episode, it can also cause asthma, especially amongst children. Many of the common ingredients found in fragrance can cause burning sensation, nausea, vomiting and damage to the liver and kidneys.

Cancer Causing: Most fragrance includes some kind of cocktail of benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer.

According to the Breast Cancer Fund, when it comes to the prevention of cancer, avoiding synthetic fragrance is one of the main ways to help yourself. 

Hormonal Disruption: It has been shown that many of the chemicals found in fragrance can result in disrupting the bodies chemical balance. These chemicals are commonly referred to as our hormones. Balanced hormones is what keeps the entire body healthy, more times than not, when something goes wrong with the body it can be linked back to unbalanced hormones. If our hormones become unbalanced it can cause disease, infertility, weight gain/weight loss, skin conditions, birth defects, anxiety, depression and neurological disorders. Bottom line - it makes us very sick.

Bad For The Brain: Pretty much all fragrance ingredients contain neurotoxic chemicals. The less severe side-effects of these chemicals show up as headaches, weakness, and irritability, along with brain fog and reduced mental clarity.  However, on a more serious note, research has shown that these synthetic chemicals can induce brain cell degeneration, which can lead to degenerative disorders such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease.

Poisons Our Planet:  Not only do the chemicals found in fragrance wreak havoc with our own health they are classed as environmental toxicants which pose a  serious threat to the environment. They end up in our wastewater, drinking water, oceans, soil, and our atmospheric air. It then goes on to poison our natural habitat causing plants, animals and marine life to become sick and often die. 

HOW do I avoid fragrance?

You might be an avid label reader like me but this doesn't keep you safe from all the chemicals and toxins labelled under the term "fragrance" if you don't know what you are looking for.  When it comes to labelling beauty products and personal care items there is an industry loophole that allows companies to use the term "fragrance" or "parfum" instead of listing all the toxic ingredients. The reason for this is to protect the companies scents and formulas, they claim its a  "trade secret". But there is still a way around this and that is to simply not buy any product that lists the following on the label: fragrance, parfum, perfume, linalool and limonene. Look for products that use naturally derived fragrances from plants, herbs, bark, moss and so forth.

This also goes beyond cosmetics and personal care items. Start reading the labels of  baby lotions and wipes, air fresheners, candles, fabric softener, laundry powder, bathroom cleaners, and so on. And remember; if the front screams “fragrance free,” products can still contain fragrance ingredients as a masking agent to cover unpleasant chemical smells. Read the labels!

To protect yourself (and your friends, family and coworkers), start swapping out all those synthetic fragranced products for products that are scented with naturally derived ingredients. Natural fragrance is not only  non-toxic to your health it actually comes with some significant mind-body wellness benefits.

The chemicals in your products don't wreak havoc with you over-night - they wreak havoc over an accumulative period. Therefore, don't feel as though you need to swap over-night - just take it gradual and when one of your chemically fragranced products need replacing seek out a "better choice: a more natural, kinder, greener product". The only exception to this rule would be pregnant women - research has shown that the chemicals can possibly cause birth defects - so better to be safe than sorry I say.

If you are unsure of an ingredient you can check the safety of it over at Skin Deep, a product safety database run by the non-profit Environmental Working Group.

There are some amazing natural  beauty and personal care products available today so you won't have any problem finding a great natural alternative. However, when it comes to perfume and cologne, I get it, many of us have a signature scent. So if you can’t bear to part with your favorite perfume, at the very least only apply it for special occasions.

Many people will argue endlessly about what is or isn’t a safe threshold, often saying that the amount of chemicals in the products is to little to cause concern. Now; while there is some truth to that - the thing that hasn't been accounted for in this argument is the consideration for that actual amount of products we use on a daily basis that contain chemicals.

Everything has chemicals from our beauty products, household cleaners, our food to the air we breath. The problem isn't that one little chemical in your bottle of perfume - the problem is the amount of chemicals that are just naturally part of our everyday living.  The more we can reduce our chemical exposure the better off our health and planet will be.

The truth is, we’re only beginning to understand how these chemicals disrupt the body.

So; I don't know about you, but I refuse to continue to spritz and lather myself in a toxic chemical cocktail. Call me a non-risktaker if you will, but I will continue to play it safe and choose the non-toxic versions every-time.

Hey, here's an idea - why not check out our beautiful botanical perfumes - I know you will love them.