{ fragrance harm }

fragrances are a touchy topic. what has been proved, what hasn’t been…what is actually scientific, what isn’t…

the point of this blog post is not to scare everyone into running into a cave and living underground until the world ends (which is how i feel whenever anyone talks about how everything these days will kill us) 

the point of this post is to make people aware of things we can avoid that may cause us UNNECESSARY harm. if you don’t want to get into all the nerdy science-y stuff i’m about to share, then just take this one thing away: read. the. labels. i had to teach myself to do this when buying food and now i am teaching myself to do this with any household items that were made by someone-or something-else. it’s very simple. just read the labels of any substance you’re going to put on your body or surfaces in your home. if you see the word “fragrance” in the list of ingredients, put it back on the shelf, and walk away.

fragrance was initially used to keep trade secrets from leaking out. back in the day, manufacturers didn’t want others to copy their product ingredients, so laws were passed that allowed them to keep some ingredients a secret under the guise of the word “fragrance”. this was fine back when rosehip oil or frankincense were the fragrances in question. but we have evolved to using more than 4,000 various chemicals that can qualify as fragrance.

now, for those of you who want to go a teensy bit more in-depth, i’ve got an easy to understand glossary below. i feel like people throw out words like these all the time but rarely actually define them. these are all found commonly in chemicals used to make fragrances.

  • allergens: cause allergic reactions (duh)
  • hormone disruptors: upset the endocrine system and can lead to tumor growth, birth defects, and developmental disorders
  • asthma triggers: cause coughing, wheezing or trouble breathing
  • neurotoxins: poisons that attack the nervous system
  • carcinogens: substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue
  • phthalates: acid that makes scent last longer, believed to be a carcinogen (see above)

quite an alarming little list. stay with me now, don’t go packing for the apocalypse (yet). it is so, so simple to stay away from these things once you know what you’re looking for. i’ll share the most common culprits to avoid.

  • dryer sheets: these are packed with both fragrance and proven carcinogens. probably the #1 no-no. not even going to advocate finishing up the ones you have left, please just throw them away asap! 
  • cleaning products: this one is a bit obvious, but what may not be very clear is some of the cleaners that market themselves as “natural”. i strongly recommend reading the ingredient list, and if they don’t have one, please do not use it. this is also the part where i shamelessly plug the handmade {clean} products. all our products are made with bases of vinegar, baking soda, castile soap or rubbing alcohol, with only high-grade essential oils to give scent. no fragrance whatsoever. basically, the simpler the ingredient list here, the better off you are. 
  • laundry detergents: again, just because they advertise as “natural” or “fragrance free” does not mean they are. read the label. 
  • toiletries: such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste & shaving creams. a lot of these contain phthalates under the guise of “fragrance”, as it helps the scent last longer.
  • cosmetics: lots of fragrance & ingredient issues here, probably deserves its own separate post.

so there you have it. take a deep breath, check out your labels before you buy, and just be aware of what you put on your body or in your home. your health- and the health of your loved ones!-is worth it.

if you would like me to make either a follow-up post or an abbreviated facebook post about what some good replacement options are, please comment below or feel free to message me through social media. i tried quite a few alternatives in each category so i’d be more than happy to share what i found!