I absolutely love fragrances and perfume. But I have often wondered what chemicals are used in the ingredients. One can assume that high quality ingredients equal a more expensive perfume. In theory, this accounts for the wide pricing gap, as some fragrances can be as cheap as $10 while others are as high as $250. I have always flocked to the most expensive perfume. Expensive perfumes are strong, as you can literally spray it on in the morning, and continue to smell it into the wee hours of the morning. Long story short, it has staying power, as most fragrances dissipate within a few hours after it’s sprayed. But can we safely assume that a more expensive product automatically equals a healthier fragrance? Well, the short answer is no. As the age old saying goes, one should never assume as it makes an ass out of you and me.
The Fragrance Loophole
According to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), cosmetic companies must provide a list of all of a products ingredients. This so called ingredient list is anything but comprehensive. In fact, the FPLA, exempts companies from disclosing the complex chemical mix of fragrance ingredients. In short, companies are literally exempt. Fragrance is viewed as a exclusive propriety mix. Translation, “fragrance” ingredients are viewed as essential to the company’s bottom line. Any attempt to reveal its ingredients is viewed as detrimental, as it poses a risk of jeopardizing the companies profit margin. So basically, the manufacturers profit takes prescidence over the consumers right to be informed before you buy. This is the exact reason why you’ll never find an ingredient list on a perfume bottle. This raises a very important question. What the hell’s in perfume? Well the truth will astound you.
When I think of fragrance it seems harmless enough. In theory, flowers are naturally fragrant so technically you can extract the fragrance from a flower to make perfume. This is partially true. One could take lavender and express scent. But this in of itself is expensive. Just think of the amount of plants it would to to yield a good amount. Now multiply that amount for mass production. So in order to keep costs down, companies create fragrances using synthetic chemicals that mimic the natural extract. Overall, fragrances can contain a complex unidentified mix of over hundreds of synthetic chemicals. Recent studies have shown, that these chemical contain, endocrine disruptors, environmental toxins, and carcinogenic. Translation, certain types of synthetic chemicals can cause cancer. This places consumers at the mercy of the manufacterer. Meaning we have to blindly trust that companies will have our best interest heart.
EWG Skin Deep Database
So often we are taught to read labels before you buy. But this the only industry that is exempt from this practice. This is wrong on so many levels. But there’s no need to fear, because there are a slew of natural fragrance alternatives that have been tested and ranked for safety. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), has provided a Cosmetic database that allows you to search products for safety. This database has allowed me to feel more at ease when it comes to buying safe cosmetics.
Our bodies are amazing. We can literally eat toxic foods while our bodies use our organs to detox any impurities. Unfortunately, our skin does not provide us with the same level of protection. The skin is an equal opportunity absorber as it absorbs all products the same. it is unable to distinguish the good from the bad. Once applied to the skin products are immediately absorbed within a matter of minutes. After which, it quickly enters the blood stream. As consumers we must make a conscious effort to ensure that we do not apply toxic products that have the potential to slowly accumulate and create disease over time.
Knowledge is power. Becoming conscious of what’s actually in the products we use is scary as F. Truth is, it angers me to point in which I become paralyzed with fear. This fear makes me want to refrain from using any and all products that contain toxins. In theory this is perfectly logical. The problem is so much of what we consume has be altered in some way. Practically no ingredient is without some effect. Depending on the product and the individual, even a naturally occurring ingredient can illicit an allergic reaction. Bottom line, a life lived in fear is not lived. I can not and will not allow myself to live in fear.
Here are the 5 Ways You Can Avoid Toxic “Fragrance”
1). Read product labels to identify “fragrance”before you buy. This includes both personal care and cleaning products.
2). Avoid products that list “fragrance” as the ingredient. Cosmetic companies are not obligated to disclose fragrance ingredients. They are protected by a loop hole that allows them to maintain secrecy. This places consumers at a disadvantage. It also exposes them to toxins that have not been tested for safety.
3). Read labels beyond the packaging the package description. Let the ingredients speak for itself beyond the description that it’s “fragrance free.”
4). Opt for products that only list essential oils as it’s natural scent.
5). You do not have to go it alone. Consult EWG’s Skin Deep Database to determine the safety of cosmetics and skin care products.