Natural perfumes
We all know that most fragrances are alcohol based. Some people choose not to use alcohol-based products as they can upset the pH balance of our skin, cause irritation, inflammation and dryness. In truth, there are far worse chemicals lurking in some pretty perfume bottles. Here’s a list of five chemicals I think stink in perfume –

What Could be Lurking in your Mainstream Fragrance?

1) Alcohol is used in fragrance as a carrier chemical. Around 95% of synthetic fragrances on the market are derived from petrochemicals which means water would be no use – remember water and oil don’t mix (which is why oily skin types should use oils! Read more here) Sadly, there are no laws, regulators or governing bodies to keep an eye on what goes in to fragrance products and with formulas close-guarded in the business, companies are not obliged to list their full ingredients – the word “fragrance” or “parfum” will suffice. The problem with petrochemicals and their derivatives is they are bio-accumulative in the body and are likely carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
2) Phthalates are another worrying group of chemicals, of which there are three- Di-ethyl phthalate (DEP), Di-butyl phthalate (DBP) and Benzyl butyl phthalate. They are known endocrine disruptors and suspected carcinogens that are small enough in molecule size to enter the body when applied to the skin. They are also absorbed into the body through the lungs when inhaled. As with the aforementioned petrochemical derivativesphthalates do not have to be listed on the ingredients list to be present in the product, and if “fragrance” or “parfum” is written in the ingredients list phthalates may be contained. Pregnant women should particularly take care to avoid this chemical group, especially Di-ethyl phthalate which has been linked to both developmental abnormalities in foetuses and learning difficulties later in life. You may think why don’t we know about such chemicals and the harm they cause, and I believe a switch is gradually happening (I hope I’m making a difference!), but the fact is scientists DO know about it. In 1986, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences identified fragrance as a category of neurotoxins – chemicals that damage your brain and nervous system! Most of us are inhaling these every day AND applying them to our skin!
3) Synthetic Musks are frequently found in fragrance. Some synthetic musks such as Galaxolide and Tonalide are endocrine disruptors and are also toxic to the environment, bio-accumulative in marine life and from here it works its way up the food chain.
4) Propylene Glycol is a preservative and penetration enhancer, so may well be helping all the other bad chemicals enter your body. It also can cause toxicity in the liver, kidneys, intestines and heart as it’s what’s known as bio-accumulative.
5) It’s believed that as many as 1 in 50 people could suffer from immune system damage due to allergens found in fragrance and become sensitised to the offending chemicals for life. This leads to allergies, which can mean a reaction each time the individual is exposed to the offending chemical. Such chemicals can also trigger asthma.
As well as containing a number of unsavoury chemicals, the production of synthetic fragrances often produces further toxic chemicals as byproducts such as dioxins and formaldehyde, which are toxic to the environment and us.

If you’ve turned your nose up reading any of this then why not check out my lowdown on safer natural alternatives click here to read more.