October 05, 2016

The Dangers of Synthetic Fragrances

Maybe you’re like me - the season changes and so do the scents in my home. From baking everything pumpkin to switching out hand soaps and candles, I love the smells that remind me of crisp fall days and the holidays gathered around the fire.


And maybe you’re also like me and get splitting headaches any time you’re around strong synthetic fragrances. I can’t go into some of those big name candle or soap/lotion stores without an immediate reaction, and I definitely can’t have highly fragranced products in my home.  Those overpowering scents are not natural.  They are created from synthetic fragrances which are made up of chemicals that cause all sorts of troubles for us scent-sensitive people.


There are synthetic fragrances in Method, Mrs. Meyers, Green Works, and many more personal care and cleaning products. However, you will never find synthetic fragrances in Better Life products. It goes against our mission of our products being truly safe and plant-derived. Better Life uses only natural essential oils and extracts to scent our products to offer a subtle scent that is a delightful while scrubbing toilets, tables, floors, or your hands.

When you buy Better Life, you’re getting the warm, cuddly scent of fall and winter, spices and citrus, but without the headache that follows. 


Check out the Huffington Post’s “Five Must-Knows on the Dangers of Synthetic Fragrances” by Ava Anderson. 


  1. WHAT is “fragrance?” More than 95 percent of the chemicals in synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals. These chemicals include: benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates, and a slew of other known toxins that are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, nervous-system disorders and allergies—some of which are cited on the EPA’s hazardous waste list.


  1. WHERE is it hiding? In the U.S., manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals in the one word—“fragrance”—without revealing what those ingredients are. It’s referred to as a “trade secret” in the industry. But really, it’s simply a loophole big enough to drive a fuel truck though. This excuse to not label fragrance ingredients was initiated in an era when the major fragrance houses lobbied to protect their secret formulas made from flowers and oils. But those days are long gone. What the government is protecting now are manufacturers who have a license to poison the American public with more than 3,000 chemicals that are being absorbed, inhaled, and ingested daily.


  1. WHY should I avoid it? Environmental Working Group (EWG) researchers found more than 75 percent of products listing the ingredient “fragrance” contained phthalates (THAL-ates) which have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts, and cause reproductive malformation, and have been linked to liver and breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Additionally, studies by Dr. Philip J. Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, link fetal exposure with autism, ADHD, and neurological disorders.


  1. HOW do I avoid fragrance? Many of us work hard to make good food choices—such as eating organic and avoiding hormones and GMOs—and we read nutrition labels. But how many of us read the labels of our bottles, sprays, and jars? A majority of personal care products for men, women, and children, along with home-cleaning products, contain “fragrance.” The ingredients in “fragrance” are absorbed into the bloodstream directly though the skin. We advise people to avoid ALL products with the ingredient “fragrance” on the label—including perfumes and colognes, baby lotions and wipes, air fresheners and candles, dryer sheets and detergents, and so on. Even if the front screams “fragrance free,” products can still contain fragrance ingredients as a masking agent to cover unpleasant chemical smells. Read the labels!


The bottom line: Congress has banned some phthalates in toys, but as the recent study above suggests, others have been substituted in their place. Many countries have banned phthalates (EU, Canada, South Korea, Japan, even China). But the U.S. government demands such a high level of proof of harm that many agree it is simply impossible to reach—and our government is slow to respond, banning only a few chemicals in its history.

“Fragrance” is at the top of my “no-no” list. If a manufacturer isn’t willing to list ALL of a product’s ingredients on its label, that’s a deal breaker for me. I hope it is for you, too.

by Ava Anderson, natural beauty expert and safe cosmetics advocate for The Huffington Post