They say a rose by any other name is still a rose. But, when it comes to perfumes and fragrances, that is certainly not the case. In fact, most days, the perfume you think is the finest rose scent is most likely full of chemicals that could make you and others around you sick. Here’s what you need to know about the truth of fragrances, and where to find the best non-toxic perfumes to keep you smelling like sweetest flowers on the stem.
I admit it. I used to be one of those girls.
I loved to ‘smell good.’ I loved going into that store and I loved picking up the best smells at buy three, get two free prices.
When I was a teacher, I loved getting gift cards to that store because I could load up on all the great smelling stuff and feel like I’d just left the islands or was about to bake a pie with grandma. It all depended on my mood.
And then one day, I started a new teaching job and my teaching assistant came to meet me. Within about 10 feet of me, she started to wheeze and said, “I am allergic to perfume and synthetic scents. I can’t be near you. Please don’t wear anymore tomorrow.”
I was honestly a bit taken back. I mean, I was the most allergic person I knew and I wasn’t allergic to perfume. I thought she was overdramatic and frankly, I didn’t like it. I had grown up on Elizabeth Arden and Clinique perfumes and couldn’t imagine a world where Eternity wasn’t part of my after bath for an evening out.
But I couldn’t deny her instant cough. Not just a cough, actually. Her instant wheezing. And coughing. And gasping for air. Just because she walked near me and my warm vanilla scented self.
And as I got to know her (without wearing anything scented) I got learn that not only was she an amazing teacher assistant and human, but she knew a lot about how bad synthetic fragrances are for our bodies, and how pure essential oils can make HUGE differences in our life (and make us smell great too). I learned so much.
You see, when you’re used to the toxic smells and ingredients, your body adapts and fights and accommodates for you. I know this firsthand because when I stopped wearing synthetic fragrances for my coworker and friend, I found I was healthier. My asthma was better. My allergies were better. Oh, and when I came in contact with people who were wearing perfume (or walked by that store), I would react just like my teaching assistant had that day.
Our bodies simply don’t need that poison, and when we come in contact with it after detoxing? We can instantly tell.
Why Don’t We Know About The Dangers Of Perfumes And Synthetic Fragrances?
Honestly, you already know the answer. Much like so many other things in the world, it’s all about money and who is in charge. Under the United States Fair Packaging and Label Act, perfume companies don’t have to disclose ingredients because they’re proprietary and trade secrets. And, while we understand that from a business point of view, don’t think that it’s not also free leeway for companies to use whatever they want in their products, despite the dangers for your health. Sadly, some of the ‘biggest’ names in fashion and parfum are the biggest offenders. Just think about those people spritzing in high-end department stores. It’s no coincidence people walk away with headaches, runny noses, itchy skin and a horrible case of the sneezes and wheeze. And those are just the allergic reactions. We’re not even talking about reactions to the unknown chemicals in the ingredients.
And honestly, it’s not just perfumes you need to worry about. It’s anything with a scent. Laundry detergent, lotions, candles, shampoos, conditioners…so much of our world is artificially scented, and has lots of toxic potential.
What Makes So Many Perfumes Toxic?
While the Environmental Protection Agency is theoretically designed to do just that–protect the environment and what’s in it–the reality is that it doesn’t necessarily do so super consistently, or in many ways that may hit profits of big business. In 1991, they did decide that the following chemicals in perfumes were toxic: acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool and methylene chloride.
Perfumes used to be made with natural ingredients. Actual derivatives of things that naturally smelled so incredible. Roses, gardenias, peonies…but now? According to Invisible Disabilities, that all stopped in the late ’70 and early ’80s and now they’re about 95% or higher synthetic chemicals. Seriously, would you ever think of turpentine or crude oil as a main ingredient in your rose-smelling perfume? And let’s not forget that a lot of these chemicals have serious effects on our endocrine systems, our lungs and our GI tracts.
When the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics (CSC) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) got together to analyze 17 popular perfumes, the results were downright scary.
They found endocrine disruptors and phthalates. They found chemicals that were allergy triggers, causing things like vomiting, skin irritation, hyperpigmentation, headaches, wheezing, coughing, headaches and sinus pain. They found musk ketone, which is not only a skin irritant but a hormone disruptor and passed through breast milk. Many of the chemicals found in their samples were not even approved as safe for use in the perfumes. Did you know that the only thing that really regulates what fragrance manufacturers can and can’t use is whether or not an ingredient has been ‘banned’?
And that’s just from what the EWG did in 2010. In 2011, the National Toxicology Program and the National Academy of Science found that styrene is probably carcinogenic. In 2012, so did the CDC. Guess what’s in a lot of perfumes? Yes. Styrene.
The reality is that we all should stay away from synthetic fragrances. Yes, we want to smell great and smell great things, but not at the risk of our safety, and not from companies who won’t tell us what they’re using to smell so great. Trust us, there are other options.
What Should You Do To Keep Your Family Safe From Harmful Perfume Toxins?
It’s hard to avoid when grandma still insists on her Eau de Toxin, or your child’s adorable kindergarten teacher bops around like a skin model for that store. You can be honest and tell them how synthetic chemicals and scents affect you and your family, though, and in a polite and compassionate way. What they do with your information is what they do.
In your home and personal life, you can make sure you don’t buy or use anything that you can’t find all the ingredients to. If it says fragrance, you’re gonna want to probably take a hard pass on it because it may be made of nuclear skunk for all you know. Look at the ingredients and then research them on EWG or Think Dirty.
Also consider using organic or scents that use essential oils as their base for composition. No, you may not ever smell like Japanese cherry blossoms again, but… you won’t be killing your endocrine system with a cleaner and greener non-toxic perfume.
What Non-Toxic Perfumes Should I Consider?
We don’t begrudge you for wanting to smell awesome. Our sense of smell and our moods are often directly connected (why so many essential oil-based products are music to our moods!) and there’s just something about a scent that conjures up all the feels. It can take us back to grandma’s gardenia garden or that smell of the lotion we used for our babes when they were born. The best part is there are several choices for non-toxic perfumes that can leave you smelling and feeling great.
We love Indigo Wild. They’re a band of humans who want the ingredients they use to be the best things on the planet, and it shows in their products. They know that holistic ingredients bring life to everything, and they use only the best stuff to bring their zen into the world. They had us at “We love dogs and hate breast cancer,” as they’re active in rescue and giveback. They donate a portion of proceeds to the Kansas City Sheltie Rescue and they have dogs (mostly rescue) running around their offices. Additionally, they have cancer survivors working with them, and they donate portions of profits to cancer charities as well. Saying they know boobies deserve better, they make their products to keep us healthy and disease-free.
The Zum Mist Frankincense & Myrhh and Sea Salt body mist spray smells warm and divine, and is made with 100% pure essential oils. You can spray on your body for calming peace and better sleep in addition to great smells, and you can use it all over the house for the same effect. No toxins, no poisons, just great zen and great smells.
Made with all-natural and organic ingredients, the scents from LaVanila are free of harsh chemicals and irritants. They use organic sugar can alcohol and infuse it with exotic essential oils and skin pampering botanicals to give a beautifully odiferous expression of nature.
Our fragrances stand out among others because they are made by hand with all-natural and organic ingredients from all over the world. Unlike traditional perfumes made of harsh chemicals that can damage and irritate the skin and senses, we uniquely infuse organic sugar cane alcohol with exotic essential oils and skin pampering botanicals for 100% healthy, gorgeous and authentic expression of nature.
They’re free of all the aldhydes, the phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals, pesticides and animal products that make people sick and the packaging and product is 100% recyclable made with an environment-impact minimizing process. And, since they know they take from the environment even just a little, their Plant-A-Tree program gives back to help accommodate.
And did we mention they smell great? Packaged in FSC earth-friendly paper, they’re clean, green, safe and they give back.
Sea Witch Botanicals starts off by telling you they began because they wanted to do good on the planet. Sea Witch Botanicals wants to use social and environmental good to counterbalance the strife in our world. They choose stewardship to waters by keeping them clean and free of toxins. They won’t use synthetic fragrances, irritants, preservatives or carcinogens and they won’t let those leach into the waters either. They make a positive impact on community by donating to charities like the EWG and EarthJustice and they don’t believe you have to be wealthy in order to have clean and healthy products. They use anti-slave sources for their cocoa and shea butters, and they encourage fair wages, fair living and fair opportunities for all who share resources with us. Sea Witch Botanicals is a Certified B. Corp that makes all sorts of natural perfumes and products, and they do so using green energy sources. We love the solid perfumes that are in low-profile and reusable tins, and you’ll love the amazing smell selections.
When Josh Rosebrook began his journey in hair and skincare, it was mainly because he was driven to find products he loved and that worked–but that could be clean and affordable. He wanted to find products that he could recommend in good conscientious to his clients, and so he began creating his own. He was highly successful with his Cacao Antioidant Mask, and that led him to create more products that helped people feel batter about themselves. He believes that beautiful skin and hair comes from a focus on whole body-mind balance, and he keeps a holistic mindset when creating. He believes Mother Nature is the best lab.
Enfleurage is the 18th-century French technique that is used to extract the aromatic compounds from flowers and plant oils. Enfleuria is based on the delicate gardenia oil and is hand-crafted through the enfleurage process. Enfleuria is clean and green, delicate and daring and it’s a true parfum that you can trust with its certified organic essential oils, extracts and absolutes in certified organic jojoba oil.
You’d think loving oneself came naturally but it really doesn’t. Still, it’s important, and this Magick Elixir is where you start. Love Magick prepares your body to receive, integrate and maintain the frequencies that allow you to reconnect with yourself and love yourself more. This natural perfume doesn’t just smell divine, it gives you a sense of yourself, and takes you to a place of rebirth smelling like a rose. It’s made of Bulgarian Rose Otto, frankincense, Gold and Pearl Powder and more, and it’s just what you need to love yourself and the world around you.
In a world where you just want to smell good without killing yourself (or those around you) all is not lost. There are tons of fair-trade, giveback companies who want to do good for the earth and its inhabitants and they make some incredible smelling products without the poisons. Your toughest job will be picking your favorites.
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