There is much heated discussion in the perfume world when it comes to this topic. Those that have sensitivities to strong overpowering fragrances will argue the nasty toxins in synthetic mainstream fragrances make them sick and those that have never had anything but joy from a single spritz of their favourite designer perfume will wonder what all the fuss is about. So what is all the fuss?
Personally, I can get a slight headache if I’m walking down the street and a mainstream fragrance hits my face like a large suffocating blanket – it’s uncomfortable, but not extreme. With that said, I’ve had issues when it comes to dousing myself in mainstream perfume – I’ve felt congested, fuzzy-minded and as though I need to cough immediately. So naturally it makes sense to delve a bit deeper and figure out what the heck is going on.
The not-so-fun facts
Last year a Melbourne University study revealed that one in three Australians reported health problems such as migraine, headaches, skin conditions and asthma attacks when exposed to everyday fragranced products. One in three people! And of these health effects, more than half those affected could be considered disabling under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act. Eeek.
When you also consider that women are exposed to approximately 168 different chemicals per day from an average of 12 products, men approximately 85 chemicals per day, it is then quite alarming to find that teens use approximately 17 products per day resulting in even higher chemical exposure per day. An EWG study tested teens to find out which chemicals in personal care products were found in their bodies, the results were 16 different hormone-altering chemicals, including parabens and phthalates, were detected.
It’s hard to ignore the findings, especially now when there is more and more research uncovering the harmful effects of toxic chemicals found in our everyday consumables. Fragrance is in many things, from perfume, to skincare, air-fresheners, cleaning products, toys, furniture, and more. But we are not doomed.
The safer solution
There are healthier alternatives that I hope will one day be ‘mainstream’, and with the growing awareness of how beneficial a natural and organic lifestyle is, so grows the availability of the everyday products to suit our needs. These are exciting times people. And this totally includes that eco luxe perfume you once thought was only for hippies, but is now completely holding their own amongst the big players.
Zoe Foster-Blake’s real-life beauty hacks.
So, when it comes to lovingly spraying yourself with a luxury signature scent best known for its celebrity name, you might want to digest these ingredients first before applying again…
- The chemical composition of a mainstream perfume is made up of two parts, a base carrier usually a perfumers alcohol & a fragrance compound. Together, this chemical cocktail if legally enforced on a label (which it is NOT due to a loophole in the industry) could look something like this:
Ingredients: ethanol (denatured), Isopropyl myristate, Dipropylene glycol, phthalates, artificial dyes, fragrance oils, mineral oils, parabens, adulterants… and any of the other 3000 ingredients available for use in perfume creation.
A list which is mostly petrochemical based with the already very KNOWN carcinogen culprit such as phthalate and its endocrine disruptor pal paraben. Yes, we have all heard of these bandits by now so I won’t go into them here. It would be silly to ignore the compounding effect that these known toxins can have on your body given that we are exposed to them daily for what is essentially your lifetime.
Now in comparison, the chemical composition of a 100 per cent natural or organic perfume is also made up of two parts, a base carrier (sometimes oil like jojoba and sometimes alcohol) and a fragrance compound. This time when you look at a label of any natural perfume it’s pretty damn simple:
Ingredients: pure botanical ethanol (sugar cane, grain or grape), 100% natural botanical fragrance (proprietary blend of 100% botanical ingredients). Or to that like.