Is Your Perfume or Cologne Affecting Your Fertility?
There is no easy way to say this: perfume and cologne stinks. It stinks because we spend a fortune (fragrance is a $36.6 billion business) for a small piece of luxury (the gilded bottle bearing the name of a luxury fashion house or celebrity) and the illusion that we are getting a scent that defines us, but what we are really buying is a chemical soup of unverified, untested synthetic chemicals that are accumulating in our bodies, damaging our cells’ natural ability to fight toxins and affecting our fertility.
When we talk about personal care products and cosmetics, we often say ‘FDA-approved’ and mistakenly believe there is a safeguard process in place. We might imagine: companies create formulations, then a team of scientists decide the product is safe before products appear on the shelves. However, we are mistaken; the “FDA does not approve cosmetics” its website clearly states (fragrance and perfumes are considered cosmetics). It is the responsibility of cosmetic (read fragrance) manufacturers to “ensure, before marketing their products, that the products are safe when used as directed in their label or under customary conditions of use.”
However, no one is certain fragrance is safe. In this day of organic food, non-GMO, BPA-free and focusing on what we are putting in our bodies, it’s time to start focusing on what we put on our bodies. We use an average of 9 personal care products (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc) each day, adding 126 unique chemical ingredients to our toxic load or our ‘body burden’. Your spritz of perfume or cologne is the icing on the cake.
Warnings to consumers have been quietly popping up for years:
- In 2010 the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent lab to test 17 fragrance products (known brands such as Calvin Klein’s Eternity (for men and women) and Jennifer Lopez’s J. Lo Glow as examples) and found ingredients with the potential to act as hormone disruptors were common in all 17 name-brand fragrances assessed in the study. In fact the perfumes, colognes and body sprays contained an average of four potential hormone-disrupting ingredients each.
- In 2012 Silent Spring released a report that found endocrine disruptors and asthma-associated chemicals in consumer products, the highest concentrations and numbers of detects were found in the fragranced products (e.g., perfume, air fresheners, and dryer sheets).
Synthetics are not new to this industry. The first synthetic was created in 1853 and by 1920 chemists had created 80% of the synthetics used today. Over the years natural essences and essential oils distilled from natural ingredients have been replaced by cheaper synthetic materials. One industry expert estimates that a mere 10% of ingredients used to create perfumes today are natural, the remaining 90% are synthetic.
Patricia Ronning, Perfumer & Clinical Aromatherapist at Intelligent Nutrients shares,
“When Chanel No5 was created, aldehyde had just been discovered and in fact, Chanel owes it’s unique smell to an overdose of aldehyde in the formulation.”
Synthetics play a role in every conventional perfume. There are are 300 scents in the natural world, and synthetics can increase that number to 3,000. “The synthetic process of isolating components is what makes perfumes smell the way they do,” continues Ronning. “Manufacturers don’t use the full essential oil, they use components.”
So for consumers who are concerned about the products they put on their bodies, it’s time to switch to natural perfumes. They smell nothing like conventional perfumes, but that’s a good thing, says Brian Paulsen of rareEarth Naturals. “Being around essential oils is like walking through a field of flowers.” And while conventional perfumes can not be used for aromatherapy, natural perfumes can.
“Natural perfumes are good for people who are sensitive to synthetic or conventional fragrances and want a pleasant scent with aromatherapeutic benefits,” adds Paulson.
“Essential oils are medicine,” adds Ronning. “Technology and science have evolved so that using non-toxic, natural and organic products doesn’t mean sacrificing performance. Our Intelligent Nutrients products are free of sulfates, plastics, parabens, silicone, mineral oil, petrolatum, petrochemical-derivatives and synthetics. Instead, they are formulated with state-of-the-art science that makes them potent and high-performing. Certified organic essential oils of peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, ravintsara, cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, lime, and vanilla and red raspberry flavors help stimulate, strengthen, relieve tension, uplift, calm, and provide antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.”
Natural perfumes are built with chords of high, middle and low notes that provide a subtle journey as they change throughout the day. They can also contain a biological component that resonates with the wearer. Many natural perfumers use food-grade USDA certified ingredients. A natural perfume smells good, can contribute to feelings of calm or well-being yet add nothing to your body burden of toxic chemicals.
Natural scents to try:
- Buddha Nose Girl Body Balm: rose geranium, ginger, and clary sage essential oils nourish skin and mellow the mind.
- rareEarth Amani Eau de Parfum: notes of Australian blue cypress, ylang ylang, and sandalwood, inspires gentleness and inner harmony.
- Intelligent Nutrients Awaken Body and Hair Elixir: Top notes of lemon, lemongrass and lime lead a spicy green heart of stimulating spearmint and black pepper.
Based on an excerpt from Magnifeco: You’re Head to Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and NonToxic Beauty.