“Fragrance”, the Hidden Toxin

DSC_0861Over the years I have done a lot of reading on many different topics found online. There is so much that we have in our life that we don’t really even know about. Like, what is really in this shampoo I just used? Or, what are those ingredients in my body lotion? How do they get this to smell SO GOOD?!

This led me to research the ingredient “fragrance” found on the back of most beauty product ingredient lists. I had known that things with too much fragrance were not really great, but I had not realized how detrimental it is to your health. It began to irritate me when I read that companies do not have to list what their fragrance is made of, to keep their special formula a secret from other companies that may want to “copy” them.

So what exactly is fragrance? Fragrance is made up of synthetic chemical compounds, and there can be anywhere from dozens to hundreds to make one “fragrance”. These compounds may smell lovely, but in reality they can cause many problems to the human body.

Why is fragrance bad for my health? These synthetic chemicals that make up fragrance can lead to many health issues, with the biggest one being allergens. Those with asthma should especially avoid products that contain fragrance. It is one of the top allergens that can spur on an asthma attack! Also wonder why your skin tends to “break out” with certain products? That can be linked back to the fragrance as well. It is not good for your skin, and it is not good for you. Anything you are applying to your body or smelling (like cologne or perfumes) most likely contains fragrance. Just check out a bunch of ingredients labels on a few of your beauty products. Then look at your hand soaps, laundry soaps, dish soaps, home cleaners, and especially those smelly car fresheners and room scents! Absolutely loaded with this secret ingredient and most people don’t have a clue about it.

Phthalates are a key component in some fragrances. What are phthalates? This chemical is used in all sorts of things, but is in fragranced body products for the purpose of helping the scent to last longer. Can’t find phthalates on the back label? That’s because it is a key component hidden under the ingredient “fragrance”. Is this starting to make you mad? Want to know what it does to your health? It majorly bothers the endocrine and hormonal system. Wow. That hit me when I read that. It is especially harmful for pregnant women and their developing baby. Read here for more details: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=290

Well if fragrance is in everything, how do I avoid it? It may seem easy to buy items that say “fragrance free” right on the front. But be warned! Some products contain masking fragrance. Now that is brilliant, right? They use a masking fragrance to cover the scent of the ingredients!! So while you may think that purchasing a fragrance free laundry soap is going to be better, you are actually just buying the same thing with a different fragrance formula. Tricky, yes, but there are items out there that you can buy totally fragrance free.

– Look at the back of the product to read the ingredients label. Don’t just take for granted that it is good if it says fragrance free on the front.

– Try to find products that contain essential oils, and plant and flower extracts.

– If you can’t part with your favorite perfume, try to use it less frequently and for special occasions.

– Start slowly. Don’t just throw out all the items in your house that contain fragrance. I know this information can seem alarming (and it is definitely important to take note of!), but don’t go extreme. Take baby steps towards filtering out the smelly products in your home.

– Don’t fret! There are many natural and organic products out there that smell just as good, if not better, than products with synthetically made fragrance.

– Not to bash Bath and Body Works, but their oh-so-yummy-smelling products are where I started. For years I used BBW products! When I got pregnant, I decided to stay away from those smelly lotions because of the petrolatum and parabens… and fragrance.

– I recommend Shea Moisture as a great alternative for body lotions and hair products. They are one of the only products I have tried so far. That is mostly because they last me so long. I use the baby lotion on Layla, and it has lasted months. It is expensive up front, but definitely not the most pricey “natural” line out there. Another brand I highly recommend is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. I am going to switch over to his baby-mild soap for Layla once we run out of BabyGanics. Thankfully my body wash for her is free of fragrance, but I was very upset to find out that some BabyGanics products contain fragrance as well as other ingredients I steer clear of.


So there is a bit of information on this problem ingredient. I know there is only so much we can do in our day and age, but we might as well start somewhere! Especially since this is a big issue and a lot of people just don’t know about it. Please let me know in the comments about any other products you have tried that do not contain synthetic fragrance.

The Happy Homemaker


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