Is Your Perfume Poisoning You?

Is your perfume poisoning you?
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Did it ever occur to you that your fragrance may be seriously harming your health? Did it ever occur to you that your perfume might be poisoning you? Now when I say “poison”, I don’t mean to scaremonger – You are NOT going to drop dead from a perfume application, however, it could be making you quite sick. No exaggeration … when I get a whiff of a toxic designer perfume, it can make me feel nauseous, dizzy, and generally unwell. It’s no wonder because that glitzy little bottles could contain over 50 chemicals (that don’t have to be listed on the label),  and which are now known to have significant health implications.

Is your perfume poisoning you?

While some may be impervious to the strong, sickly whiff of synthetic perfume that is ubiquitous in our everyday life, others are almost taken down by it. Even if you are seemingly not affected, it could be just a matter of time because as we get older, our bodies become less efficient at standing up against the toxic assault. So why is perfume and fragrance so “bad”?

  1. Not So Natural: Perfume way back when used to be made from herbs, essential oils and plants, but now they are 95-100% synthetic and made from a base of either crude or turpentine oil. So this is what you are primarily spraying onto your skin!
  2. Toxic Cocktail: Then we move on to the cocktail that is added to this base. This is where it can get gnarly! Author of the book, Get A Whiff Of This, Connie Pitts, explains: “Perfumes, colognes, and many other scented  products contain an abundance of harmful chemicals, many of which are listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List. They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals,   neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petro-chemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.”
  3. Alarming Study: An EPA study in 1991 confirmed that the chemical compounds found in many synthetic fragrances can cause central nervous system disorders such as: dizziness, nausea, uncoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, headache, mouth/throat/skin irritation etc. On a more serious level, some of the hazardous compounds in fragrance, could cause autoimmune disorders, asthma, ADD and other learning difficulties.
  4. Not Just Your Perfume: Keep in mind that these fragrances are in a mass of products that we buy everyday: candles, soap, dish washing and laundry detergent, body lotions, deodorants etc. Even if you only buy fragrance -free products, you’ll still get a nasty whiff when you visit any mall or store like Bed Bath and Beyond, who pump it into the air!
  5. Industry’s Big Secret: You may wonder why “they” can get away with it. Pretty simple: There is a big labeling loophole where fragrance ingredients are considered a trade-secret, and this is why the individual chemicals don’t have to be listed.

So what do those of us do who LOVE beautiful scents? Easy – try to look for products that have been scented with pure essential oils. Many of the skin care brands that I recommend only use pure oils to create their fragrance.

But before you go shopping, a couple of things to note:

1. There is a big difference between the term “Fragrance-free” and “Unscented”. The latter might still contain a bunch of harmful chemicals. So, try to look for the “fragrance-free” label.

2. Many clean and green products are scented with pure essential oils. In some cases, green brands still list the “fragrance” on their label. This is where it does get tricky and confusing because for the most part I do advise to avoid the term in an ingredient list. However, there are exceptions, and a plethora of brands that I love, who do use the fragrance term, and yet they are phthalate-free and non-toxic. In sum, if you want to be a million percent sure (and don’t want to have to do the detective work), look for a label that lists the essential oils used to scent the product, or go for fragrance-free.

You cannot go wrong with:

Lurk Perfumes: Perfumer Anne Sanford Nelson hand pour each perfume to order. She has been in the business for years, and had drawn back the curtain in the “green” perfume space for me! Ooof – I had no idea what was going on!! So if you want to be 100% sure that you have a stunning perfume (she does both Eau de Toilette and Perfume Oils), check out her stunning collections.

Pour La Monde: The first and only 100% certified natural perfume, Pour La Monde puts designer perfumes to shame! There are just three Eau de Parfums (all stunning), but my personal favorite is Envision.

If these perfumes aren’t in your budget, consider making your own!

Please do remember that synthetic perfumes and fragrances are in just about everything. The first places to weed them out would be anything that you purchase because you love the scent. This might include cleaning products, candles, air fresheners etc.

The cleanest cleaning products are ECOS  – I’ve literally seen them being made!

For candles, you can’t go wrong with The Sage Lifestyle

And for an air freshener…hmmm, just make your own!

Don’t forget to grab a copy of my free Starter Guide, to get you started on your wellness journey.


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Sophie Uliano is New York Times best-selling author and leading expert in the field of natural health and beauty, who takes a down-to-earth approach to beauty focusing on what's truly healthy. Join my masterclass to get started.