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Is Your Perfume Killing You?

chemical perfume

Did you know there’s a really nasty little secret that the perfume industry doesn’t want you to know about?

That with every casual little spritz of mainstream synthetic fragrance, there are a lot of really poisonous chemicals that are likely to be putting your health at risk.

Sadly, Australia and the US are similar in their regulation of the personal care industry. Due to a ridiculous loophole in legislation, perfume companies are not required to disclose anything that is a ‘trade secret formula’ or fragrance, so consumers are largely in the dark about what is in their perfumes or any personal care product that contains a fragrance. So whenever you see the word ‘fragrance’ in the ingredients list, know that it is actually hiding a multitude of sins. You could look at it like this:  in the mainstream chemical perfume world, ‘fragrance’ means ‘a complicated concoction of chemicals that smell nice together’

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is an organisation in the US that researches and publishes findings about the ingredients of personal care products.  In addition they have had some huge successes with global companies, in getting them to review and revise their labelling and ingredients.  They have worked together with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to undertake testing of 17 name brand perfumes including Calvin Klein, Georgio Armani, Chanel amongst others).  In total they found 38 chemicals that weren’t listed on labels, with the average perfume containing up to 14 unlisted chemical ingredients (plus 15 more that were listed!)

Direct quote from their report:

“Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.

Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.”

The global fragrance industry is allowed to regulate itself, through a trade association known as the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). This association is responsible for conducting safety tests to determine the ingredients safe for use for their own industry – but so far suitable testing hasn’t been undertaken so no-one has really got any idea whether the ingredients listed, or not, are safe to be used in perfumes.  WHAT A JOKE!!  One wonders what the effect of all these chemicals working together in synergy (effect of the ingredients combined) would be…

Have you passed someone in the supermarket and almost feel that you can’t breathe properly from the inhalation of their perfume?  Or sat next to someone on the train who is wearing a chemical fragrance and suddenly realised you’ve got a headache coming on.

Asthma sufferers watch out – mainstream synthetic fragrances are listed in the top 5 most common allergens…

Three very well known nasties that many people take steps to avoid are commonly found in synthetic perfumes:

  • Parabens: Synthetic preservatives known to interfere with hormone production and release.
  • Phthalates: Another synthetic preservative that’s carcinogenic and linked to reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development, birth defects) and liver and kidney damage.
  • Synthetic musks: These are linked to hormone disruption and are thought to persist and accumulate in breast milk, body fat, umbilical cord blood, and the environment

The foundations of the modern day mainstream perfume industry are found in aromatherapy and essential oils.  They were first used in the Middle East for their healing properties and amazing, varied and versatile fragrances.  Considered as highly valuable, aromatic materials and the resultant oils, were traded first with the Far East and then into Europe, where they quickly grew in popularity.  However, as time went on perfumers learnt how to re-create the fragrances from synthetic materials and because this was a cheap and easy process with high yield, natural perfumery started to become a thing of the past.  It is common now for a synthetic perfume to have ZERO natural ingredients – everything can be created in the lab.

Thankfully, there is a wealth of information available to us via the Internet and as we are coming full circle and choosing to live a healthier life style that aligns more harmoniously with the natural environment we ARE asking the important questions, we ARE reading the packets and we ARE far more discerning about what we are putting into and onto our bodies.

So for the health-conscious individual such as yourself, when it comes to fragrance, you have 2 options:  you can anoint yourself with all natural completely non-toxic natural perfume oils OR you can go fragrance free.  I’m a perfume junkie so its a no-brainer for me…

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