Do you ever wonder why you can walk past the laundry detergent aisle and still smell that “fresh tropical rain” five rows over? Just what is that persistent scent? You’ve smelled it in baby shampoo, lotions, makeup, deodorant, and even in trash bags. Fragrance is everywhere! Is that a good thing? Here are just a few reasons Earth Mama Organics doesn’t use fragrance.
Fragrance is an F Word
Fragrance isn’t just a smell; it’s is an ingredient made up of other ingredients. The way it’s listed on products varies, and sometimes includes modifying words or is listed as “parfum”. The exact components of the ingredient “fragrance” can be claimed to be a proprietary trade secret, meaning it doesn’t have to be disclosed to consumers.
Fragrance can hide thousands of chemicals – from parabens to phthalates to artificial preservatives. And there’s no way to know which of over 3,000 different chemicals are nesting in there. It doesn’t matter if it’s synthetic fragrance, artificial fragrance, natural fragrance, or even innocent-sounding botanical fragrance oils—if it says “fragrance,” you just can’t know what it’s made of. And even products that claim to be natural often use “fragrance.” So it’s a good habit to check for the F word in personal care products, even in the natural aisle.
The Problem with Fragrance
Scented doesn’t always equal bad, but most people can’t tell an essential oil from a parfum. And would you believe that “unscented” products can even have fragrance chemicals to mask their natural scent?
Some people are sensitive to scents, natural or not, but many of those people might be surprised to learn what they’re actually sensitive to is not a scent at all. Since the “fragrance” ingredient can contain so many different chemicals, and manufacturers are not required to list them on the label, you have no way of knowing what’s irritating you. It could be phthalate, the chemical fixative that makes a scent last, or one of hundreds of toxic hidden preservatives.
In fact, the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that 1/3rd of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic, and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database agrees:
“The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”
Hidden chemicals in fragrance can cause millions of people to suffer from skin and respiratory allergies, according to a report from Women’s Voices for the Earth. And it’s no surprise to hear about a rise in cases of eczema and contact dermatitis in sensitive babies and children, as well as adults. Not knowing a full ingredient list makes it difficult to identify the irritant, so choosing products with full ingredient disclosure is even more important.
What Goes On Goes In
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are especially vulnerable, since they are fundamentally absorbing for two.Much of what goes on your skin goes in, and even though our amazing bodies have brilliant filters like the lymphatic system, we may prefer not to flood our bodies with unknown numbers of unknown chemicals. And so even if you’re thinking about using more natural products, many people don’t give a thought to using fragrance-scented lotion, deodorant or dryer sheets.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are especially vulnerable, since they are fundamentally absorbing for two—and of course, they would never put a toxic chemical on their baby, but if they don’t know what’s in the fragrance in their all-natural lotion, they may be unintentionally adding a toxic stew into their system.
How to Avoid Toxic Fragrance Chemicals
The solution should be simple enough: avoid the F word. But the problem is that fragrance chemicals are found absolutely everywhere. There are some tools you can use to identify the worrisome ingredients when you’re standing in the personal care aisle though:
- You can avoid products that list the ingredient fragrance or parfum on the label
- You can learn to read labels carefully and double-check ingredients in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database
- You can protect your pregnant self, your baby, and your family from potentially dangerous fragrance chemicals by choosing safe, fully disclosed, certified organic products
Wouldn’t it be amazing if manufacturers were required to disclose synthetic fragrance ingredients in personal care products so we could make informed buying decisions? Maybe someday! For now, steering clear of fragrance will help you reduce daily exposure to worrisome chemicals. And the good news is that this small change can have a big impact!
From the positive test to the big push, from the first latch to the thousandth diaper, Earth Mama Organics makes effective organic and natural herbal products for the whole journey of motherhood: pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, and baby care. They have been safely nurturing mamas this way since 2002—and they wouldn’t do it any other way.