The sweet smell of perfume; so lovely right?! Well apparently not according to 35% percent of the population who suffer quietly from the effects of fragrances. We were completely shocked to discover that 1 in three people have obvious (and quite often immediate) reactions to perfumes and strong scents. One in three! Their symptoms include headaches/migraines, coughing, sneezing, breathing difficulties, dizziness and fatigue – and this is simply from being near to someone wearing fragrance. If they themselves wore fragrance they could also suffer from skin irritation, itching and severe rashes.
It seems hard to believe that something so seemingly innocent could have such an alarming reaction on a significant percentage of the population. So what is really in our conventional fragrances that can cause such a response? The truth is: we can’t really be sure. Companies producing fragrances are not legally responsible for listing the full component of ingredients on their labels, or anywhere for that matter. Hundreds of chemicals can be masked simply by using the word ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ on the label – making it a ‘commercial secret’ and exempting them from disclosing what’s really lurking in that perfectly posh bottle you’re spritzing directly onto the largest organ of your body; your skin.
We were really surprised to find what was really lurking in our conventional perfumes. Here is a rundown of the two main culprits we discovered that made our favourite scents suddenly not so appealing!
Phthalates, also referred to as ‘plasticizers’ are used to make plastics more flexible and resilient. This group of chemicals is used in food packaging, vinyl flooring and detergents as well as many other uses you wouldn’t link to personal care products. The purpose of phthalates in perfumes is to help the fragrance cling to the skin to help the scent last for hours on end. Phthalates are a known hormone disrupter and have been linked to reproductive abnormalities, premature delivery and endometriosis in women.
Parabens are a group of artificial preservatives used in perfumes and cosmetics to stop the growth of bacteria and mould, increasing the product’s shelf life. Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, confusing the body and causing disruption to the normal hormone system. People particularly susceptible to the effects of parabens are women who already have hormone imbalances and conditions associated with estrogen dominance, like PCOS.
Phthalates and parabens are just the beginning of a long list of ingredients found in conventional fragrances that are either known hormone disrupters, highly-likely carcinogens and/or chemicals that are overloading our systems with toxic ingredients we could really do without.
But you love your synthetic fragrance? We understand! Perfumes can be something that feel really special to us. They can almost represent who we are or act as a sentimental reminder of precious memories. If you want to make healthier changes you don’t necessarily have to ditch your favourite perfume overnight. We suggest switching to an all-natural fragrance for regular use and keeping your conventional perfume for special occasions, which will greatly reduce the amount of chemicals you’re exposed to daily. Or who knows, after embracing your new natural perfume you might just throw that synthetic fragrance out for good like we did!
Written by Emily Ings, Co-Founder of KYND Scent