We are surrounded by fragrance and parfum. When we talk about fragrance, it can mean the 10-50 chemicals of the over 3000 chemicals used to create synthetic scents in each of the products we use every day. Therein lies the problem. Fragrance is used in food, cosmetics, drugs, and household products, and regulated differently in each. For years cosmetic companies have been able to hide the chemical ingredients used to scent their products because they were considered “trade secrets.” Today there is increasing pressure to disclose these ingredients as a result of possible links to endocrine disruption, cancer, allergies, migraines, asthma, obesity, insulin resistance, learning disabilities, and developmental abnormalities in fetuses of exposed mothers.
Even “fragrance free” or unscented products contain fragrance and chemical masking agents to prevent the brain from detecting odor. Most of these chemicals are untested, both alone and in combination with each other, as the fragrance industry is self-regulated for the most part. Each day we are exposed to literally dozens of scented items, and nearly one third of us have some sort of sensitivities to fragrance. Many of these chemicals are harming wildlife and the environment.
Fragrance in cosmetics is of particular concern, as they are applied to the skin, and what is applied to the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. That makes it as important as what you eat. To protect yourself and your family, avoid personal care products with “fragrance,” “parfum,” and “proprietary formula” on the label. Pregnant women and infants need to be especially careful around synthetic scents. Avoid dryer sheets, air fresheners, candles and even feminine products with synthetic fragrance. Choose products scented with natural organic essential oils and plant material. Not only are they safer, but natural essential oils can provide therapeutic benefits. Buy from companies that disclose all of the ingredients in their products.
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