The average fragrant contains about 14 secret chemicals that aren’t listed on the label, many of which are linked to hormone disruption and allergic reactions. Fragrance acts as a loophole on the FDA’s regulation of personal care products.
They are considered a trade secret under the Fair Package and Labeling act of 1966, allowing companies to not list ingredients so their formula cannot be replicated easily.
Unfortunately, this gives brands an opportunity to add in cost effective, but toxic, chemicals to their products to make a scent that is “better” than natural. But chemically unrecognizable to a naturally occurring scent. They use these chemicals to make sure the spray disperses well and so it lingers for longer, giving the desired effect of perfume and body spray. But at what cost?
When a product is sprayed into the air, it doesn’t just affect the person that sprayed it, but can cause many problems for other people around. It can throw their bodies into a frenzy of reactive behavior and trigger migraines, allergy symptoms, asthma, chronic lung disease and other health conditions.
EWG found that about 75 percent of products that list fragrance contain the hormone disrupting chemical, phthalates. Phthalates, used to make fragrances last longer, have been linked to many hazardous health conditions, such as reduced sperm count, liver and breast cancers, reproductive malformation and diabetes. This carcinogen has been banned in many countries (EU, Japan, South Korea, Canada, even China), but our government sets such an intense level of proven harm for these chemicals that some say it’s almost impossible to reach.
Like with many other personal product worries, it’s up to us to protect ourselves.
The primary and most accessible strategy is to check the labels on the products you buy. To be safe, you want to avoid any product that labels “Fragrance” with no other explanation.
Some companies list the exact ingredients in parentheses next to the word fragrance, to see how toxic they are, you can enter them into the EWG’s Skin Deep database and see the hazard level.
Some products may say “Fragrance-free,” “unscented,” or “free and clear,” but be careful here as well. Many times these phrases mean that they contain a chemical that masks the scent of other chemical ingredients.
The very best option is only to use products that use essential oils and herbs, and maybe natural fragrance, to create their scented products. You can also make them yourself or purchase natural & organic products here.