Synthetic Fragrance and Your Health


Knowing the why behind using synthetic fragrance.

Our sense of smell has a few powerful functions: prepares our digestive system for food (yes, it’s part of our GI tract!), plus it impacts our emotions and moods, both past and present. In fact, supporting our emotions with fragrance can have a powerful effect on our overall health; most physical issues are rooted from an emotional place, thus, finding that emotional balance allows courage and strength to deal with physical shifts.

However, perfumes and fragrances are big sources of hidden chemicals such as phthalates (it helps make fragrance aromas last longer), which have been linked to hormone-disrupting effects that may be one causing factor for headaches, dizziness, asthma, infertility, and allergies. When I counsel people on their health, I always tell them to look at their personal care product labels. If they see fragrance, I suggest they ditch it.

This is a big deal because on average, women use 12 personal care products daily, men 6 and teens, a lot more. We are exposed to approximately 80 to 126 different chemical ingredients every day and many of these products contain harmful synthetic chemicals labeled as fragrances. The cumulative effects of these chemicals in our body are profound.

A friend just share this article,  Girls, Puberty & Breast Cancer Risk: What Moms Need to Know Now, with me and it’s an important read. Being aware is the first step in making a change and we tend to make these changes a lot easier with our kids. This is the big take home in the article, but please read it in entirety.

Clean Out Parabens From Her Cosmetics Bag”

“Most cosmetics are loaded with chemicals such as parabens (and phthalates). Parabens are xenoestrogens (chemical estrogens) and can mimic estrogen in the body, increasing the likelihood of early puberty. Parabens have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. They are commonly used as preservatives in makeup, moisturizers, hair products, and other personal care products.

Parabens can be spotted on product labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben, but keep it simple and avoid anything with the ending “paraben.”

In the Human Body Detectives course, Know your body, period, we talk about this extensively!

Crazy fragrance trivia

Companies do not need to disclose any chemical ingredient if they say it’s part of what makes the perfume smell good. THEREFORE (the crazy part), fragrance and perfume can refer to as many as 4000 different things.

(And what’s more CRAZY, since WW2, we have introduced 80, plus chemical and 80 to 90% of them have never been tested.)

Crazy fragrant trivia

In this very informative Scientific American article, it states that perfumes contain petrochemical ( YES! ) chemicals derived from petroleum and/or natural gas and plenty more hazardous synthetic chemicals.

What You Can Do

Always look at the label. If it lists fragrance, it’s most likely synthetic and should be avoided. Many personal care products will use essential oils, which are natural products extracted from plants.

I was inspired to write this post from my recent trip to our local grocery store, as I entered the store, I was bombarded by the cinnamon scented pine cones. Yes, they did smell lovely and bring up some great memories, however, I knew the scent was synthetic and was causing damage to my body. Many people may think its only the products they put on their bodies, although, anything that adds a scent to a product: air fresheners, laundry detergent, scented candles, can do harm.

(If you are interested in making your own scented products and perfume, I often recommend essential oils from Floracopeia.)

FYI: The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) of 1967 requires companies to list a product’s ingredients. This sounds very protective to consumers yet this act cannot force companies to disclose trade secrets, therefore, companies can default to that. 

For beauty care products, I use and recommend Beautycounter. They ban 1,500 chemicals from all their products (the Never List), that have been associated with any disease.


dr. heather


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