Fragrance is a big industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar business. I used to love my perfume and was often complimented about my scent. The common misconception is that “fragrance” means perfume. It does NOT. The word “fragrance” is a trade secret in the United States and, thus, companies do not have to disclose the plethora of compounds that make up that word. In fact, the word “fragrance” contains known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. This word is on many of your every day products including shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, cleaners, laundry detergent, deodorant and a variety of other personal care and household products. When you use a fragrance, it is absorbed directly into your bloodstream in roughly 26 seconds. So essentially, when you are using products that contain the word fragrance you are depositing chemicals right into your blood.
These chemicals can cause birth defects, central nervous system problems, seizures, asthma and a whole host of other physiological issues directly related to those mysterious chemicals. Styrene is a common petrochemical used in cleaning products to make them smell fresh and clean. This chemical is also found in exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke and can be very harmful, especially over time.
None of this is to say that you can’t smell good or your home can’t sparkle! There are clean and safe ways to extract scent from plants and flowers. Some companies claim to utilize less chemicals, but they use alcohol and petro-chemical solutions to do things like remove wax from the plant from which it is extracting oil. There is a clean steam distillation process that is usually void of chemicals, but the only way to ensure a product is free of toxic chemicals is if it was obtained using CO2 extracts. It is so difficult with the protections companies have been given from releasing their processes or ingredients to the public to really discern what is in a specific product or how a “fragrance” was derived. Your best bet is to stay away from products with the word “fragrance” in the ingredients, and purchase from companies known for full transparency. There are a multitude of products on the market that delineate on the label the full ingredients of their products and do not hide behind the word “fragrance.”
Michelle Pfeiffer is actually the first person to bring a fully transparent, toxin-free fragrance to the market with her new company, Henry Rose. This big shift in the high-end perfume market is hopefully a sign that people are becoming more informed about the harsh chemicals used in these products. Hopefully smaller, more affordable companies will follow suit and offer products with transparency and safe ingredients. In the meantime, the market determines how the bigger companies will behave, so if less people purchase their products perhaps we will see a larger shift towards these trends in the near future.
For more information please see: