It’s true: we’re all suckers for a nice-smelling lotion, body wash or perfume, and for obvious reasons. Good smells bring good moods, bring back fond memories, calm us down- and certainly knowing you smell good is a confidence booster when you’re not feeling so hot otherwise. However – if you’re like us and you think it’s important to know what is in the products you use on your own body or those of your children every day, you may be dismayed to learn that the word “fragrance” on your baby shampoo bottle or in your hand cream is simply a code word for “dozens, perhaps even hundreds of mystery chemical ingredients that we aren’t required to disclose here.”
How is this possible, you might wonder ?! In the beauty and personal care industries, fragrance is a trade secret, which means that companies are not legally required to disclose the unique chemical concoctions that give their products certain scents essentially so that no one else can copy their formulas. If you look at our ingredient listings, we have listed “essential oil blend from clinical grade essential oils” – which is our honest version of the generic word “fragrance.” None of our products include synthetic, chemical or toxic ingredients of any kind, but we still keep for ourselves the exact blend of essential oils that make our products smell as they do, so we fully understand why other companies do this too, to keep their formulas exclusive. However, we’re not down with the fact that they conceal from customers a blend of totally toxic ingredients with that one sweeping word.
So what’s hiding behind that word? Fragrances are found in most shampoos, lotions, body washes, deoderants, sunscreens, children’s body care products, face washes, face creams, anti-aging products – and especially in perfumes and colognes. They are absorbed through the skin and also inhaled when we spray them or they are in powdered products. We turned to our friends at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for some details on what “fragrance” contains:
–Allergens & Sensitizers: Ever notice how sometimes at the airport they ask that you not wear strong perfumes on airplanes? That’s because fragrances are among the top five known allergens and can cause asthma attacks for people who may be sensitized to fragrances due to immune system damage in addition to other allergic reactions…which is problematic in small spaces with lots of people! The fragrances tested by the CFSC each contained an average of 10 allergens and sensitizers.
–Hormone Disruptors: Many chemicals in fragrances mimic the body’s natural hormone estrogen and thus disrupt the body’s natural hormone system. This disruption can cause cancerous tumors and, considering that these hormone disruptors can accumulate in the body over time, can cause birth defects down the line as they are integrated into women’s hormonal systems. They can cause developmental defects, especially cognitive and brain development problems and sexual development problems in babies, as well as the feminization of male babies and the masculinzation of female babies. Some of the most potent endocrine disruptors include phthalates which have been linked to affects in fertility and development. Definitely to be avoided!
–Neurotoxins: Yes, fragrances include chemicals that are toxic to the human brain.
–Untested chemicals: The sad truth is that the FDA has not tested the vast majority of the chemicals hiding under the blanket term “fragrance” and so therefore this small list of health risks is really only the beginning, and we don’t know the end. Therefore their safety risks are unknown, which is perhaps the greatest reason to avoid filling your cabinet with them – who knows what harm they could cause down the road!
Curious to know more? This is a great report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that gives a lot more details (numbers, numbers, numbers) on toxins in fragrances – I encourage you to give it a read, and follow their links for even more info.
You deserve to know what’s in your products – unfortunately, most beauty companies make it very difficult to be an informed customer, but by doing a bit of reading and by buying products that promise to be 100% natural and chemical-free, you can avoid these scary, mysterious chemical mixtures. We promise- there are no synthetic fragrances to be found in our products – all of our yummy scents come from the flowers and essential oils we use as natural active ingredients, and we think they all smell wonderful!
What do you think about this synthetic fragrance business? Fishy, or worth it for the good smells?
Author: Tata Harper Team
The team at Tata Harper Skincare is passionate about promoting a modern, health-conscious natural beauty lifestyle that’s committed to safety, honesty and sustainability.