Over the past few years I have been on a journey to ditch fragrance in my home and swap for more natural options!
“Fragrance” seems like a pretty innocent word. Most people don’t think twice when they see that word in the ingredient list on their shampoo, laundry detergent or lotion. But the reality is that “fragrance” can actually contain thousands of different chemicals and ingredients. Companies are not required by law to disclose any of the chemicals that make up their fragrance, because it is considered proprietary. This is dangerous as there are nearly no restrictions on what can be used to make up that fragrance! Source
I know you’re probably thinking “That can’t be true. The FDA is ensuring that every product sold is safe!” But unfortunately that’s not true! Companies are NOT required to gain approval on a new product before it is stocked at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Sephora, etc. The only time the FDA gets involved is if a product causes significant issues (direct links to cancer, death, etc) AFTER it has been sold. This means that thousands, or even millions of people may use a product for many years before it becomes evident that it is causing health problems. At this point, the damage has been done. Basically, WE are the guinea pigs. Source
In Europe, about 1300 chemicals have been banned from being used in cosmetic and personal care products. In comparison, less than 30 have been banned in the US and Canada. Source.
I don’t say all of that to scare you! In fact, I’m telling you this to encourage you to be your own advocate. It is your responsibility to read labels, and do research on products before bringing them into your home.
Some of the common ingredients found in “fragrance”
- Pthalates: Pthalates are not harmful in small amounts, but the repeated exposure to them over our entire lifetime is what causes worry. Pthalates can be found in cosmetics, paints, building materials, fabrics, electronics, children’s toys, pest control products, food packaging. Pthatlates are in everything from our food, water and even the dust particles in our homes. It’s impossible to fully avoid them, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to limit our exposure. They are a risk to our health because they disturb our endocrine system, and our natural hormone levels. This can cause issues with reproductive health and fertility. Source
- Solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes. Since these are not listed individually, but instead under the umbrella term “fragrance”, it is virtually impossible to know what is in the product you are using. This causes issues with allergies and sensitivities.
- Acetaldehyde, Benzophenone, Butylated hydroxyanisole, Dichloromethane, Formaldehyde, ethanolamines, Titanium dioxide, 1,4-Dioxane are all known or anticipated human carcinogens.
- Butoxyethanol is a skin, eye, nose and throat irritant.
So…How do you avoid exposure to these chemicals?
Learn how to read labels! It’s not enough to read the front of the packaging where you might see words like “unscented” or “fragrance free”. Those don’t necessarily ensure anything. The most important thing is to look at the ingredients on the back of a product. You want to avoid words like “fragrance” “parfum”.
Chose products with simple ingredients that you can pronounce and understand. I know it’s overwhelming when you’re just starting out, but if you start today and swap out ONE product, that makes a difference!
If you’re wanting more guidance as you get started, I have posts that will help you ditch fragrance and swap specific products in your home!
I hope this encouraged you to pursue a new healthy habit. I promise it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming when you are working towards a healthier lifestyle! If this was helpful, be sure to pin it for later or to share with a friend!