We tend to gravitate toward products with refreshing or comforting scents, but have you stopped to consider how healthy or natural these fragrances really are?
“Fragrance” is a product used not only in making perfumes and deodorants smell good, but in virtually any cosmetic product you touch to make the product smell appealing to the average consumer.
But the toxicities and harmful effects of these fragrances are hardly publicized to the consumers. Companies are permitted to use chemicals in fragrances with little concern about the health and environmental effects, thanks to loopholes in health laws.
In a study done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it was shown that almost 90 per cent of the ingredients of personal-care-products are not subjected to safety evaluation by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. To top that, companies that produce fragrances are permitted to keep its ingredients hidden away, so as to protect their trade secrets, while we consumers are left in the dark about potential hazards of every air freshener and shampoo we use.
Take world-famous brands of shampoo and you can see listed at the back, under ingredients, this product called “fragrance” elusive because it is virtually impossible to get the chemical composition of this fragrance. Also, this one all-encompassing word ‘fragrance’ can constitute mixture of thousands of possibly toxic and harmful chemicals.
The health effects of these fragrances have been analysed by EWG, and the findings have been appalling. Fragrances have been found to be able to trigger anything from a skin allergy to hormone disruptions that could possibly lead to cancer.
Our skin is a very ardent absorbent of chemicals applied on or in contact with it. Through repeated use, these chemicals can accumulate in the body, causing the concentrations to escalate to harmful extents. So though you may initially not be allergic to these chemicals, repeated use of or even exposure to these fragrances can make you so. EWG’s analysis found that an average of ten chemicals per product (out of 17 branded colognes and perfumes tested) could trigger asthma, wheezing, headaches and contact dermatitis. These fragrances that can contain neurotoxins and are among the top five allergens listed, and also have potential effects on the endocrine or reproductive system.
Now, if you are left wondering what should be done about this, there are simple ways of ascertaining that these harmful chemicals don’t get to you. Firstly, start with reading ingredient labels, because even “fragrance-free” products might not truly live up to their names. Then, choose products with no added fragrance. To find products that do not use fragrance, pay a visit to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
Anne C. Steinemann, PhD, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the University of Washington, Seattle suggests, “For air fresheners, turn to natural options. Use baking soda, open a window, cut open an orange, or use spearmint leaves.”
Basically, replacing a lot of these chemicals with naturals can go a long way, not just for better health but also better results.
Article contributed by Vaishnavi Sairaj