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Common Clandestine Chemicals in Your Perfume and Cologne

What you don’t know in your fragrance is actually harming you


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Have you ever wondered which chemicals are present in your perfume? Did you just brush them off because you’re a hit among your friends and smell great because of them?

Fragrance companies have the audacity to place these ingredients inside your cologne and perfume under the label fragrance. They pass this off as the company’s secret mixture of ingredients. Believe it or not, they’re actually protected by law in several countries from disclosing the mischievous members (the chemicals) of this secret mixture. Some of them place a few of the ingredients on the label. But most of them don’t.

perfumeIn 2010, the Campaign for Safety Cosmetics (CSC) and Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that there are harmful and hidden chemicals in today’s top fragrance brands. The wide range of harmful effects from these chemicals is still being fully determined. Lab tests conducted on famous fragrance brands revealed an average of 14 hidden chemicals per product. Long-term research studies are being conducted on these chemicals so in the meantime stay away from them.

Your perfume or cologne also contains other substances not lumped in or hidden under the label of fragrance. These include UV absorbers, dyes, preservatives, stabilisers, and solvents.

List of Harmful Chemicals Found in Your Perfume or Cologne:

Common Clandestine Chemical What It Is What it does to your body
Phthalates, particularly diethyl phthalate (DEP)
  • This is a large group of compounds with several members.
  • They make plastic products flexible.
  • In fragrances, their use is mainly as solvents and fixatives. They make that distinct and deadly smell stick.
  • Carcinogen:
    Particularly hormone sensitive cancers like breast cancer.
  • Hormone disruptor: For males, they can affect sperm development.
    For females polycystic ovarian syndrome and issues with fetal development.
  • Obesogenic:
    May contribute to the obesity pandemic.
Parabens Act as preservatives in your perfume. Hormone disruptor and carcinogen.
Synthetic musks (musk ketones,  galaxolide, tonalide) Add distinct smell to your perfume.
  • Hormone disruptor and carcinogen: particularly hormone sensitive cancers.
  • Can have long term damage on your brain, liver, and lungs.
  • Hormone disruptor: Infertility problems
Methylene chloride (also called dichloromethane) Act as solvent for other ingredients in perfume.
  • Carcinogen: Particularly pancreas, lungs, and liver cancer.
  • Skin irritation and chemical burn may occur when exposure is prolonged.
  • Toxic to pregnant women because it can cross the placental barrier.
Benzaldehyde A scent molecule that gives a bitter almond smell. Can cause contact dermatitis and respiratory problems in susceptible people.
Methyl benzene (Toluene) Act as solvent. May have carcinogenic potential.
When breathed in or absorbed through the skin may cause harm to the brain and nervous system.
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For the definition of some of the medical terms used in our table above, please refer below.

  1. Hormone disruptor. Sounds serious, huh? It is. A hormone disruptor is any chemical that scares the living daylights out of your hormones. It prevents your hormones from doing what they’re supposed to do. Unfortunately, there are catastrophic consequences whenever they don’t perform their function. A good example would be the ability of phthalates to affect sperm development in males. Another term for hormone disruptor is endocrine disruptor.

  2. Carcinogenic. The Big C. The chemical has the capacity to initiate cancer development in the body.

  3. Obesogenic. Promotes weight gain leading to obesity.

More Essential Notes on Clandestine Chemicals in Your Fragrance

  • Harmful and hidden chemicals in your perfume have been isolated from human tissues like breast milk, breast tissue, umbilical cord, and adipose tissue (fat cells). Even though they’re only applied to your skin and inhaled occasionally, they can leach into your system poisoning you. Imagine a woman who just gave birth and breastfeeds her baby with milk that contains these harmful chemicals.

  • Synthetic fixers are no good either. They do keep the smell of your perfume on you longer, but they can also be absorbed into your body and accumulate. As time passes, they can interfere with the normal function of any organ.

  • woman-hands-with-pink-perfume-bottle

  • Smelling these fragrances is like passive smoking. You’re not the one wearing the perfume, but you do inhale its sweet smell of harmful concoctions. The effects of passively breathing in synthetic perfumes is only beginning to become understood. Strong perfume can also trigger breathing problems and allergic reactions in your airways. People with asthma can have severe allergic reactions to perfume.

  • Alongside insecticides and food additives, fragrances are under surveillance for neurotoxicity. They can have serious effects on your brain like developmental and memory problems.

  • Are you going to Canada to work there? Lucky you. There are laws in Canada that cover environmental sensitivities and the ban of perfume with harmful ingredients at the workplace. Some companies also adopt a scent-free policy to protect their employees.

Smell the Difference

Watch out for the word fragrance in your perfume. There’s a lot more to it than just a label. Ingredients listed on the label are usually incomplete. What you may be rubbing or spraying on your skin could literally be poison. When it comes to fragrances, what you don’t know can actually harm you! Smelling distinct and different can be deadly…to you and the people around you. Choose perfumes made completely from naturally ingredients, they are a much safer choice.


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