Most commercially sold perfumes and colognes are synthetic compounds that are, on average ,80% petroleum-based substances.
If you are one of the millions of people around the world who use commercial perfumes, colognes, or other scented products, you might be shocked when you learn what, exactly, most of those products are comprised of.
Some perfumes are 100% synthetic and have no natural ingredients at all. So what does this mean to users of laboratory-made perfumes and colognes?
Here are seven reasons to ditch the fake stuff and switch to 100% natural and organic scents.
What’s That Smell?
The answer is—nobody really knows for sure.
Because fragrance recipes are considered “trade secrets.” Companies that create perfumes and other scented products are under no obligation to disclose what is actually in them.
Scientists have studied and analyzed many popular perfumes to figure out what kinds of compounds they contain, but the developers of top-secret fragrance formulas have not been in a rush to help them.
Of the 6,000+ compounds that have been identified as common ingredients of perfumes, about 900 have been declared by the National Institute of Occupational Safety to be toxins.
Laws? Not for the Fragrance Industry.
Under the protection of trade secret laws, these companies have been known to blatantly ignore restrictions on the use of toxic or carcinogenic substances. Two years after methylene chloride, a cancer-causing chemical, was banned in the U.S., the substance was still listed by the EPA as one of the twenty most common ingredients included in commercial fragrances.
Most of us are used to thinking of our skin as a sort of raincoat that protects us from our environment, letting toxins and other nastiness roll off of our backs.
Actually, the skin acts more like a sponge. About 60% of what goes on your skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that our exposure to chemicals in fragrances is not limited to what goes into our lungs.
When considering the range of unidentified ingredients that synthetic scents are made of, it’s easy to conclude we should avoid putting them on our body. If you don’t want it in your blood stream, don’t put it on your skin.
The use of synthetic fragrances has actually been linked to the development of lung disease.
A study performed by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University researched the link between perfume use in pregnant mothers and the development of asthma and other lung illnesses in their children.
The study showed that children who were exposed to certain ingredients in commercial perfumes (namely phthalates) were over 70% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma between the ages of five and eleven.
This is the first study to prove a strong connection between the use of these chemicals and the development of lung disease but research is still being conducted about the correlation between synthetic fragrances and adult lung issues.
Don’t be a statistic; switch to natural scents to avoid this risk.
Many of the chemicals included in synthetic fragrance formulas are actually hormone disruptors, meaning that they mess with the natural hormonal systems in our bodies. Many of these disruptors are imitators of hormones.
Prime examples of this are phthalate compounds. Phthalates have been known to be estrogenic, meaning that their chemical structure resembles estrogen so much that our bodies behave as if we are taking estrogen when exposed to them. This has been linked to everything from an increased risk for hormone-sensitive cancers to an increased risk for pre-term birth in expecting mothers.
They have also been known to inhibit your body’s synthesis of testosterone, throwing off the healthy balance of sex hormones in your body.
Mental Health Link
The near-constant exposure to chemicals of all types has rendered many people sensitive to chemicals in fragrances.
These chemically sensitive people have been shown to be much more likely to develop depression and anxiety when exposed to synthetic scents than non-sensitive individuals. Some speculate that this connection is due to the various effects of these synthetic compounds on our nerve cells, which may impair or alter brain function.
According to the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-food Products, one in every fifty people suffer from an impaired immune system and increased chemical sensitivity when exposed to synthetic perfumes.
This means that people can more easily develop allergies to certain chemicals when exposed to them on a daily basis.
Once an allergic relationship to a certain substance starts, it can become a lifelong issue.
Everyone wants to smell good. We want our homes to smell good, so avoiding fragrance all together is not realistic. We can still enjoy lovely scents simply by committing to use all natural, chemical free fragrance options. It will take more effort, but make the effort and you can relax and enjoy your safe scents.
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Author: Tania Reuben
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock