What's the first thing you do when you open a new lotion or shampoo, or even food? Our sense of smell is a powerful point of engagement for us with products. We sniff and smell everything! Product companies know that power! But here's the dangerous truth...Fragrance acts as a loophole on the FDA’s regulation of personal care products. They are considered a trade secret under the Fair Package and Labeling act of 1966, allowing companies to not list ingredients so their formula cannot be replicated easily. Unfortunately, this gives brands an opportunity to add in cost effective, but toxic, chemicals to their products to make a scent that is “better” than natural.
What does that mean for you, the consumer? It means that a whole lot of toxic chemicals are hiding in that word fragrance or parfum. Companies use these chemicals to make the spray or lotion disperse well and last longer rewarding our brains and giving us the desired scent, but there is a cost to YOU!
Scent can trigger migraines by sending our bodies into a frenzied state of reactive behaviors. Other symptoms that can be triggered are allergic reactions, asthma, chronic lung disease and a myriad of other disasterous health issues. Even if people do not have immediate symptoms from these chemicals, due to the lack of testing these chemicals, we don’t actually know the long-term effects of spraying or rubbing them on our highly sensitive skin every single day.
You might be wondering what exact chemicals are in fragrance. Well, the bottom line is we don't get to know that. There is no regulation from the FDA and companies are allowed to keep those as trade secrets. 75% of fragrances contain phthalates. Phthalates, used to make fragrances last longer, have been linked to many hazardous health conditions, such as reduced sperm count, liver and breast cancers, reproductive malformation and diabetes. Those are pretty scary reactions! The EU, Japan, South Korea, Canada, even China have banned the use of phthalates in their countries, yet the US doesn't see it as a high enough level of concern.
So how can you avoid fragrance? It's up to us to protect ourselves and stand up by voting with our dollars. The best action to take is to turn the product over...don't fall for natural, safe, organic or other greenwashing, take a few moments and look at the actual ingredient list. To be safe you want to avoid any use of product that lists fragrance, perfume, or parfum in the list. Some products may say “Fragrance-free”, “unscented” or “free and clear”, but be careful here as well. Many times these phrases mean that they just contain a chemical that masks the scent of other chemical toxins. Your best bet is to stick with essential oils and herbs for yummy scents. Willing Beauty skincare is dedicated to being fragrance/parfum free!