Perfume has become a industrial, virtually plant-free affair, far removed from its nature-bound beginnings. Modern day perfumes and fragrances, be they the ones you spray on, shampoo into your skin or moisturize post-shower, have morphed into vehicles that deliver numerous petroleum-based synthetic toxins into our bodies, making most scents little more than ugly subverters of health, wrapped in pretty packaging.
Artificial fragrances are everywhere — and they can pose significant threats to your health.
“Fragrance” is a generic term found on the labels of the personal care products we use day in and day out: Products like shampoo, deodorant, lotion, and in our laundry detergent, dish soap, and makeup. But the term isn’t as innocuous as it seems.
I get it. We all like to smell nice. In fact there’s a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to insuring that we do. We can smell like line-dried sheets, spring flowers, mountain streams if we so choose, but perhaps there’s a reason we don’t naturally smell like any of them. And perhaps we’re not meant to, at least not in the chemically-drenched way it’s being done today.
We have a body odor problem in this country. But it’s not what you probably think. Yes, some of us stink pretty badly (thanks, Standard American Diet), but that’s not the problem. The issue is our relentless pursuit to cover up our body odor with artificial fragrances and perfumes.
Somewhere down the line we decided that detergents and chemicals smell more pleasant than our armpits. We traded in natural botanicals for hazardous materials. We let celebrities sell us perfumes because we think that’s what they must smell like all the time, and if we use their perfume, we’ll smell like a celebrity too.
What’s that smell? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know. “Fragrance” is considered a trade secret by law, so companies are not required to disclose the chemical components that add scent to a wide range of personal care products. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, an estimated 80% of products – everything from colognes and body sprays, to shampoos, deodorants, and even make-up – contain fragrance. Even “unscented” products may contain masking fragrances, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals.
Fragrance is the problem child ingredient of traditional beauty products. Wild and wily, these molecules of scent can wreak havoc on your skin by causing contact dermatitis, a seriously red and itchy rash, or other allergic reactions like a headache or asthma. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrance is the biggest cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. It’s up there with nickel and poison ivy, which most people know how to avoid.
Understanding the ingredients in personal care products can become so overwhelming and confusing we tend to shut down. It leaves us with so much information that we cannot possibly control or even begin to live by. You don’t have to be perfect. You can start to make simple changes in your daily life to reduce… Read more »
This list was taken from my book REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine) These three chemicals are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents — research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble… Read more »