The Truth Behind Fragrances
Scented candles, cleaning products, lotions, soaps, anti-aging serums, cologne. We live in a scented world. But where do these fragrances come from, and how do they really impact our health? So let’s talk about fragrances and how to avoid them, for a healthier routine.
What Are Fragrances?
Fragrances are a major loophole in the FDA’s federal law, letting manufacturers of everyday products like shampoo, lotion, and body wash include nearly any ingredient in their recipe under the name "fragrance", without actually listing the chemical. The cocktail that makes up a fragrance is considered a “trade secret” and does not have to be disclosed to the public.
This loophole was initiated a long time ago, when companies wanted to protect their secret formulas made from flowers and oils. But this era is long gone and manufacturers now use this excuse to hide toxic chemicals inside the products they sell to the customers. Today, more than 3,000 chemicals are being absorbed, inhaled and ingested daily by the people of the United States.
♥ Video: Are The Ingredients In Your Fragrance Safe? ♥
If It Smells Good, Is It Good For Your Health?
The clean citrus scent of your laundry detergent, or the delicious flower smell of your favorite shampoo might actually be quite harmful. A single scent may contain anywhere from 50 to 300 distinct chemicals. A study found that more than 75% of products listing the ingredient “fragrance” contain phthalates - an endocrine-disrupting chemical which might be responsible for a massive drop in male fertility, problems with sexual development in the womb, and diabetes. Moreover, a study analyzing the effects of fragrances on the US population showed that about 35% of people report migraines or respiratory problems when exposed to fragrances. That’s not very reassuring, isn’t it?
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If you’ve got asthma, be careful - fragrance formulas are among the top 5 known allergens and can trigger asthma attacks. The same kind of chemicals are often used for fragrances in cleaning products, scented candles and air fresheners.
Fragrances do not harm everyone on the same levels. Women are more exposed as they use more beauty and cosmetic products than men. The average American woman uses 12 to 16 products a day, many containing fragrances! Moreover, the problem of fragrance exposes differences across racial lines. Black women and children have been found to have higher levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which could be linked to the presence of these substances in hair products.
How Do We Avoid Fragrances?
Avoiding fragrances is one of the biggest challenges for consumers who want to live a non-toxic lifestyle. But we’re here to help you through this tricky process.
First, read the labels! Avoid any product which contains the words “fragrance”, “perfume”, “parfum”, “essential oil blend” or “aroma”. But beware, some labels that say “unscented” do not have a recognizable smell, but they still have some fragrance to mask the smell of other chemicals.
Work with protective gear whenever you have to use fragranced products.
Look for scents based on natural ingredients, plants or 100% essential oils. They are different from fragrance oils which are artificially created and contain toxic substances.
For scented candles, try those made from soy or beeswax, and make sure their fragrance is made from 100% essential oils.
Choose products from companies who have publicly committed to full fragrance ingredient disclosure. Watch out for words like “natural” or “organic” as the products could still be harboring harmful fragrances.
Use our shopping assistant to buy safe products that don’t use any toxic chemicals!
Our plugin will guide you online and our scanning app will guide you in stores to find out how good or bad the products you’re using every day are.
Learn More About This Topic
If you want to get rid of toxic chemicals in your environment, our Toxic Free lifestyle guide is here to help you on this journey. You can also read more articles about how to live toxic free in our blog!
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