Could your shampoo, perfumes, air fresheners, house cleaners, candles, and dryer sheets really be killing you?
More than that, it's now being said that Fragrance is the New Second Hand Smoke, due to something called Phthalates (ph-thal-ates)
When I was a young girl, my parents both smoked. I have distinct memories of asking them to:
- “PLEASE roll the (car) windows down.
- “Roll them down MORE please?”
- I even cut up my mom's pack of cigarettes once in protest.
The smoke made me feel sick. Reeeeeeeeally sick.
And it still does to this day.
I also couldn't stand artificial fragrances. Whenever I passed through the perfume section of a department store, or went down the cleaning aisle of the grocery store, my head felt terrible. To this day, I try to hold my breath as much as possible in heavily-fragranced public restrooms — it's not easy!
Anyway, I always felt like artificial fragrances weren't good for me, but I never knew that they could be as bad as that horribly demonized (and rightfully so) second hand smoke!
Well, turns out, it is.
What is “Fragrance”?
Fragrance is basically a catch word for all kinds of bad things. It can be labeled as “fragrance” or “parfum” and the real ingredients don't need to be disclosed and have not been tested for safety (source).
“Fragrance” can be made up of 1, or 2, or even hundreds of chemicals (Source),
Up to 75% of the time, when there is a “fragrance” in an ingredient, there are legally hidden phthalates, which is not a good thing. (source) Let's find out why.
What are Phthalates?
Phthalates (pronounced “THAL ates”) are solvents that are often used in cosmetics because they help fragrances last longer and also help lotions penetrate the skin.
Those are nice benefits, but they are known endocrine disruptors that have been linked to birth defects, breast cancer (possibly), infertility (source), diabetes (source), obesity (source), and also autism and ADHD from exposure in the womb. (source)
What is an endocrine disruptor? Basically your endocrine system (adrenal, thyroid, pituitary, sex hormones, and more) affect just about everything in your body. So if you disrupt them, you disrupt everything.
Oh, and they are not regulated in food or personal care products in the U.S. Nice……
No thanks, I don't want these things in my products.
Aren't Natural Products Safe?
If you've been shopping at your local health food store, surely you're not in danger, right?
I personally have been shocked to see the multitude of companies that are supposed to be “green”, “organic”, or “natural” that have these dangerous artificial fragrances in them. I think you'll be shocked too.
Here you are, shelling out extra money to get something that you think is clean and non-toxic, but really you are ending up with something that is mucking with your endocrine system big time.
Here is a listing of companies that tout themselves as being “natural”, but some of their products are far from.
Melaleuca (contains “fragrance”)
Mrs. Meyer's (contains “mixture of natural, high-quality essential oils and safe synthetic fragrance ingredients”)
Babyganics (contains “fragrance” despite having “fragrance free” on the label).
Nubian Heritage (contains “fragrance”)
Jason (contains “fragrance”)
Alba Botanical (contains “fragrance”)
Now, I'm not saying that everything these companies make is a problem, but I was personally shocked to see synthetic fragrances in these lines and figured you might be too. Of course, that could change, but I am encouraging you to read the labels and see what really is in your products.
and be careful with DIY recipes too.
There are loads of recipes on the internet that can help you save money by making things yourself, but some of those have unsavory ingredients too.
Be on the lookout for anything including Dawn Dish Soap (that's a pretty obvious one to avoid) or the more seemingly natural “Fels-Naptha” soap. My mom used that soap a lot when I was young so I picked up a few bars thinking I would do some nice DIY projects, only to find that it contains that mystical “fragrance” too.
How to Avoid Toxic Fragrances
So what's a person to do?
Read, Return, Ditch, and Choose
1. First of all, READ YOUR LABELS. Make sure you aren't buying products with “fragrance”, “parfume”, or anything like that on the label.
And even if it clearly says “fragrance free” on the label, sometimes there still are synthetic fragrances in there.
Misleading marketing is everywhere.
2. Second, return any products with “fragrance” or “parfum” to the store where you bought them. Tell them that you refuse to poison yourself, your family, and the environment with these toxins.
3. Third, ditch products like air freshening sprays, gels, and scented cleaners and personal care products. Not only do they likely contain phthalates, but they also many contain industrial chemicals that can cause asthma attacks and more.
4. Choose wisely. Learn to be an ingredient detective and find companies and products that you can trust.
There is more green-washing out there than not, but there are for sure some good companies out there that you can buy from with confidence.
Just be careful as more and more those “good guys” are getting bought up by larger companies without a reputation for “being green”, so you really need to stay on top of things.
What might be “fragrance free” one day, might not be so the next.
5. Make your own products, but only use natural essential oils for your fragrances.
Where to Shop
Basically, find a company that doesn't have “fragrance” or “parfum”. And make sure to read your labels.
I recommended Ava Anderson in my original post, but I have decided to leave them as there were just too many issues with mislabeling and other things.
they are restructuring now (will probably take a week or so) so I will be looking at other companies and products as well as at their new company.
I spent a long time searching for a company that I could recommend wholeheartedly and I have 2 companies that I am very comfortable with. They are Beautycounter and Neal's Yard Remedies / NYR Organic.
Here is more about Beautycounter:
Both companies are transparent about their ingredients and both have no artificial fragrances.
In my search for companies that I could trust, I found others lying about ingredients, including telling lies about fragrances.
I don't want these things in my home or on my body. And I for sure don't want them on my kids' bodies.
Ditch the fake fragrances for good.
Your health and your family's health might truly depend on it.