{Thrive} Mindful Monday: The Truth About Fragrance

why fragrances are bad for youNo one wants to smell like a pile of dirty socks but do you really want to douse yourself in toxins to avoid it? You might be! You see, every day, in many ways, we expose ourselves to toxin-laden synthetic fragrances and this is not limited to your daily spritz of perfume. Synthetic fragrances are EVERYWHERE! Curious where they might lurk? Sniff on this…they may be  in your shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products, air-fresheners, candles, laundry detergents/dryer sheets and more. That scent triggered migraine you loathe? Synthetic fragrances may be the cause.  You’re listening, right!?

Yes, it is a fact. Synthetic fragrances really stink. Studies have linked synthetic fragrance to to disruptions in hormones, reproductive problems and diseases like cancer, autism, diabetes and obesity.

While you may think they smell nice and are simply lingering about… you are actually consuming them constantly—through your nose, skin and mouth.

Consider this: you slather  your favorite, fragrant body lotion all over your body. It just hangs out there on the surface of your skin, right? Wrong. Nicotine patches exist because our skin is a gateway to the rest of our body. That lotion is absorbed by your skin and the chemicals therefor enter your body. Did I mention you are inhaling those fumes as well? Ugh.

That “laundry smell” that you love may be one of the most toxic smells in your house. Double ugh! Dryer sheets, which use an array of chemicals to “soften” our clothes, also emit a slew of toxic chemicals and fragrance into the air. Of 171 fabric softeners studied by the Environmental Working Group83.33% of them received a D or F rating! Eeek!

There is no way to sugar coat this. We are constantly exposed to environmental toxins and today’s Mindful Monday post is about just one that you should seriously avoid– products with synthetic fragrances. Remember…the more you know the more empowered you become to make decisions that feel right to you! That is my way of saying, “Don’t freak out too much but… listen up”.

Sadly, transparency is not a labeling requirement in the good ‘ole US of A (sarcastic “yay”) so the word, “fragrance”, can actually represent a cocktail that includes hundreds of hazardous ingredients–whoa, right!? Per the Environmental Working Group,” the term ” Fragrance” may include any of 3,163 different chemicals (IFRA 2010), none of which are required to be listed on labels.” They also found that “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.” Sheesh!

Additionally, studies by Dr. Philip J. Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, linked fetal exposure to these toxins with autism, ADHD, and neurological disorders. “Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage (EWG and CSC 2010).” Again, that is an average of 14 toxic chemicals per product!!! Think about how many products you use? The average woman uses 12 beauty products per day. Add to that your cleaning products and, well, you get the point!

So, what should you do?

Okay. Lets take a moment to relax as I do not want to be too much of an alarmist but, this is scary stuff. Thankfully there is a ton you can do to decrease your environmental toxin exposure. It is not very difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive!

  1. Swap all those synthetic scents (dish soaps, perfume, shampoo, air-fresheners, candles….I could go on) for essential oils or safe products scented with essential oils.  Bonus, essential oils often have medicinal properties of their own. More to come on this.
  2. Choose unscented products–soaps, laundry detergents, etc. from reputable brands (see below)
  3. Educate yourself. The more you know the better equipped you will be. A great place to start? EWG’s Consumer Guides.
  4. Remind yourself that perfection does not exist. You are not going to break-up with your friend for wearing fragrance or never leave the house. Control the things that you can. Start small if if feels more manageable. Again, learn the facts so you can make decisions that feel good to you.
  5. Use trusted products or make your own (learn how here). Here are a few of my favorite clean brands:
    1. Beauty Products:
      1. Beautycounter for make-up
      2. Acure Organics for kids products, shampoo and lotion
      3. Kari Gran (particularly love the lip whip and cleansing oils)
      4. California Baby
      5. Badger Brands
    2. Cleaning Products
      1. Seventh Generation
      2. Ecover
      3. Biokleen
      4. Dr. Bronner
    3. Air Fresheners
      1. Baking Soda
      2. Aura Cacia Air Fresh Sprtiz
      3. 100% Beeswax Candles like those from Big Dipper Wax Works 

Have you made the switch? If so, share your tips!

Inhaling Lavender Essential Oil, Exhaling Peace of Mind…



“Financial compensation was not received for this post.  I do, however, have a partnership with Beautycounter and there are affiliate links in the post. If you  choose to purchase products through the above links I will receive a small commission on the sale that helps fund this blog. Opinions expressed here are my own and I only recommend products I would personally use.”






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