Organic Consumers Association

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Is Your Perfume Poison?

Spritzing on perfume or cologne is a daily ritual for many, not to mention that the vast majority of personal care products – shampoo, lotion, deodorant – contain fragrances of their own.

There’s a dirty little secret the fragrance industry would rather you not know about, however, which is the extreme toxicity of many of these products. Hidden behind their pleasant scents are typically chemicals linked to hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and even cancer.

Many perfumes sold at department stores, big-box retailers, and virtually everywhere else can aptly be described as poison – and this means that you could very well be sacrificing your health by wearing them…

‘Fragrance’ Can Contain Virtually Anything

I caution against using any synthetic perfume or cologne, or any other synthetically fragranced personal care product, as they're almost always loaded with synthetic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and more.

And although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually has direct authority to regulate harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, it doesn't exercise it… The Environmental Working Group (EWG) explains:1

“When you see ‘fragrance’ on a personal care product's label, read it as ‘hidden chemicals.’ A major loophole in FDA's federal law lets manufacturers of products like shampoo, lotion, and body wash include nearly any ingredient in their products under the name ‘fragrance’ without actually listing the chemical.

Companies that manufacture personal care products are required by law to list the ingredients they use, but fragrances and trade-secret formulas are exempt.”

What does this mean for a health-conscious person like yourself? When you purchase a fragrance, it could contain any number of the 3,100 or so stock chemical ingredients used by the fragrance industry. What blend is in most products you buy, exactly, is virtually impossible to ascertain, aside from testing it in a lab – and this is actually what the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics did…

14 Secret Chemicals Found, on Average, in Fragrance Products

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and analyzed by EWG, found a total of 38 chemicals not listed on the labels in 17 name-brand fragrances (such as Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Bath & Body Works, Old Spice, Calvin Klein, and more).2

The average fragrance product contained 14 chemicals that were not disclosed on the label (along with another 15 that were listed!). The report noted:

“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.”

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