Have you ever hugged a friend or loved one, caught a whiff of whatever shampoo or fragrance was wafting off of them and breathed deeply? Have you ever stepped up to the perfume or cologne section at a shop and sampled each fragrance to find which one might be the most you? Have you ever taken warm sheets out of the dryer, put them up to your nose and inhaled the smell of hot, fresh linen combined with the clean scent of your laundry detergent?
Most of us can relate to one or all of these scenarios. These are moments when we feel content, happy or even healed, but the one thing that each of these scenarios has in common is that they each have the potential to cause physical harm to your body over time.
Synthetic fragrances are one of the biggest unregulated environmental pollutants in our society. They are regarded as proprietary and, as a result, you will not find the ingredients that comprise your favorite synthetic fragrance listed on any product. Instead, you will find the words "fragrance", "parfum", or "fragrance derived from natural ingredients". This last one is the most insidious and misleading. Gasoline is derived from natural ingredients. In fact, anything, whether grown in a pristine meadow or created in a lab is derived from natural ingredients.
But several ingredients found in synthetic fragrances have been shown to cause cancer and birth defects. These chemicals also act as endocrine disrupters, mimicking the effects of human hormones and disrupting the body's natural processes.
Fragrance manufacturers argue that, overall, individual exposure to the offending ingredients is low, but this when an individual ingredient is considered as a component of an individual product. Consumers need to look at their exposure over a period of years to an onslaught of potential sources. It is not just your perfume that should have you concerned, it is your shampoo, conditioner, make up, dish soap, laundry detergent, scented candles, air freshener, cleaning products...the list goes on and on.
Consumers need to be their own health advocates, as well as advocates for their children's health and safety, so what can you do?
•Buy and use unscented products whenever possible
•Monitor your work space to determine if you are being exposed
•Read labels before you buy and check brand safety here
•Substitute synthetic fragrances with natural alternatives such as essential oils
•Support companies (like our favorite, Faerie Goatmother) who only manufacture natural products.
Be smart, buy natural!