There have been a lot of studies in recent years investigating the impact of artificial fragrances on our bodily systems, our moods and our wellbeing. Here are some keys things you need to know about fragrance:
- Natural fragrance and synthetic fragrance are not the same. Natural fragrances contain ingredients only from a natural origin – typically a mixture of essential oils and botanical extracts – while synthetic fragrances are lab created. Not all synthetic fragrances are bad, but the ratio of bad to good is high. Over 95% of synthetic fragrances are derived from crude oil and contain an array of compounds that are known endocrine disruptors, have been linked to increased incidences of cancer and disrupted nervous disorders.
- The word “fragrance” on packaging can be used to hide up 3,000 chemicals in beauty products. Legal regulations mean that all beauty products are required by law to list out their ingredients on the back of their packaging. While this is a good step to ensure you know what you are putting on your body, sometimes those ingredient labels can be confusing and not completely transparent. The word “fragrance” or “parfum” is a legally accepted catch all term that can be used to represent upto 3000+ ingredients without full disclosure.
- 'Fragrance' as an ingredient listing, is identified as red labelled health and hazard risk. The EWG skindeep database analyzes all personal care ingredients against regulatory and toxicity databases and scientific literature, assigning a score based on allergen concern, developmental concern, and cancer concern. Fragrance is marked as red (bad) vs. amber (some concern) or green (no concern)
What are health hazard risks associated with synthetic fragrance? They have been identified as having proven links to hormone (endocrine) disruption and contain a wide range of carcinogenic chemical additives such as benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toluene, and other toxic substances linked to birth defects, and nervous system disorders.
- What does endocrine disruption actually mean? Endocrine disruptors are ingredients which disturb the delicate balance of your entire system. The endocrine system is your body’s internal calibrating system, it consists of precious glands like the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, pineal gland, reproductive glands (ovaries and testes) and pancreas. These are the glands responsible for calibrating your system, producing important hormones that keep homeostasis. When it is disrupted, problems can manifest in your body including obesity, cancer, diabetes, hormonal mood changes and more. In short, you want a healthy endocrine system and anything that threatens it should not be dismissed.
Unfortunately despite all of the information on synthetic fragrance toxicity, they are still ubiquitous in modern households. And it can feel overwhelming to know where to start. On my own journey to go green and move away from products containing these ingredients I started with two key areas of my life - skincare and home fragrance.
1. Skincare. This area of your daily routine is easy to change and should be your number one port of call. Artificial fragrances abound in the skincare and bodycare industry and when you use a product that contains artificial fragrances you applying a pretty nasty ingredient directly to your skin. Start by using natural and organic products that are clearly marked as free from artifical fragrances. Skincare can still smell amazing if it's fragranced using essential oils - many of which have the added benefit of other positive qualities (skin smoothing, antibacterial etc)
2. Home fragrance. Remove all room diffusers and candles that are not labelled as using pure essential oils for fragrance. Using artificial home fragrance can introduce harmful ingredients into your respiratory system and bloodstream. Natural essential oil candles and room diffusers smell amazing, and can impact on mood and energy creating feelings of harmony and positive wellbeing. They are more expensive than synthetic cheap candles but are definitely worth the extra money and tend to last a long time. Most essential oil candles also use soywax or an alternative natural wax rather than cheap paraffin wax which also releases nasty toxins into the air you breathe.
3. Natural laundry detergents. The clothes you wear touch your skin on a daily basis, minute by minute. So it makes sense to start using a product to clean your clothes that is not saturated with strong smelling artificial fragrance. There is now a huge choice when it comes to fragrance free and natural laundry detergents. I love Eco Mate which uses natural essential oils for their fragranced option or fragrance free. They also have incredible eco plastic free bottles.
I hope that the above info is of interest and gives you some food for thought!