Luxurious, captivating and sensual fragrances have become so firmly established in our lives that now we cannot imagine going out without using them. Many of us make up our perfume wardrobe, choosing fragrances for the weather, mood or event.

But it turns out that many of the fragrances we use every day pose a threat to our health.

The story of a fragrance

We do not know how long nature had to work to create an amazing rose flower with its delicate, subtle, exquisite aroma. Chemists in laboratories to reproduce its smell require several dozen synthetic substances that have nothing to do with the rose itself.

The most paradoxical thing is that the consumer will never know exactly what ingredients were used to create his favorite fragrance, since this information is classified and protected by trade secret law.

Fragrance Expert Lisa Brodar advises avoiding the purchase of a perfume whose list of ingredients contains such general terms as parfum or fragrance. These names may hide a cocktail made up of several dozen chemicals. However, it is not known what effect they all have on health.

Attraction of unprecedented generosity

Attraction of unprecedented generosity

Concerns about the use of harmful substances in perfumery have long been expressed by many international organizations. Among them — Environmental Working Group (EWG).

In the USA it operates Campaign for safe cosmeticsinitiated by hundreds of groups with the goal of achieving transparency in the publication of a complete list of beauty products and perfumes.

In 2010, she initiated a review of 17 popular world fragrances. Independent laboratory tests showed that the submitted samples hid 24 chemical ingredients that were not listed on the label and were dangerous to humans.

Summing up the test, Environmental Working Group (EWG) noted that each tested sample contained an average of 14 ingredients, the presence of which was not disclosed by the manufacturer. As a rule, these are unsafe chemical compounds.

Substances have been found that cause hormonal imbalances, provoke the development of allergies and the deterioration of the functioning of organs and body systems. But that’s not all! Some of them are able to accumulate in the human body.

An eloquent example is the substance diethyl phthalate, found in the body of 97% of Americans. According to scientists, it leads to damage to the DNA of spermatozoa.

On a note!

Eau de toilette, cologne and perfume are not the only products in the house that are dangerous. Toxic chemicals can be found in any scented product, whether it’s laundry detergent, deodorized personal care products, air freshener, or scented candles.

Toxic substances in perfumery

Way back in 1986 US National Academy of Sciences recommended that Congress test the composition of fragrances for neurotoxicity. However, to date, the results of the study have not been presented. But during this time, several other authoritative studies have been carried out. According to their results, the following ingredients are often used in perfumery, which are dangerous to humans:

  1. acetone,
  2. benzaldehyde,
  3. benzyl acetate,
  4. benzyl alcohol,
  5. camphor,
  6. ethanol,
  7. ethylacetate,
  8. limonene,
  9. linalool,
  10. methylene chloride.

Specialists Invisible Disabilities® Association they say that the listed substances, combined in one perfume composition, can cause disorders of the central nervous system, kidney damage, respiratory problems, irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, dizziness, contact dermatitis, fatigue and much more.

Thus, experts associate phthalates with endocrine disorders, deterioration of sperm quality in adults and a decrease in IQ in children whose mothers were exposed to these substances during pregnancy. In addition, experts warn that phthalates can cause a person to gain weight, regardless of their diet and level of exercise.

And musk-ketone, according to scientists, causes skin irritation and dermatological diseases.

Did you know?

Approximately 2% of the world’s population is intolerant of synthetic ingredients in cosmetics and perfumes. When using fragrances, they may experience panic attacks, allergic reactions, depressive disorders. These conclusions were reached by researchers from the Medical Center in Texas, USA.

What does our future smell like?

What does our future smell like?

According to experts, modern perfumery uses between 3,000 and 4,500 different chemicals, many of which have not been tested for safety. Manufacturing companies are not currently required to disclose data about the ingredients used, which can be costly for human health. A natural question arises, how can a person protect himself?

  • Refuse to buy a fragrance whose ingredient list is classified or contains the general concepts of parfum or fragrance.
  • Try to purchase only those fragrances that are based on essential oils, natural plant concentrates.
  • Before purchasing a new perfume, check its ingredients list on a specialized resource, assessing the level of toxicity.
  • Give preference to eco-friendly brands that produce products with care for nature and human health.


Research conducted Environmental Working Group (EWG), showed that only 34% of the substances used in the creation of perfume compositions were tested for toxicity.

Expert comment

Oksana Orlova, MD, PhD, researcher at the St. Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology, laboratory of aging bioregulation, cosmetologist

Aromas have power over us. They directly shape our well-being. From the lungs through the pulmonary circulation, ephemerides enter the limbic system of the brain, which forms the mood. Sometimes certain pungent odors can even cause a headache. Not without reason in alternative and traditional medicine there is such a thing as aromatherapy.

But, not only that “there is no comrade for the taste and color” and the same aroma cannot be liked by everyone, the general allergization is also growing. Therefore, ethical standards have been introduced in a number of countries: do not use strong-smelling substances in public places, especially in medical institutions, where odors can adversely affect the treatment process.

Aromatherapy has its roots in ancient times. What was called incense, in composition, was the essence of essential oil plants. Getting them has always been a laborious task associated with high costs: energy, time, etc. For example, to obtain 1 gram of rose oil, it was necessary to collect and process 5 kg of petals.

Sufficiently stringent requirements were imposed on the quality of raw materials, it is not easy to grow a crop. Initially, the composition of perfume (perfume) contained up to 25% of essential essence; in perfumed water — 15%; in toilet water — 7%, and in the rest — alcohol. The stability of the aroma was explained by the same.

The modern perfume industry, faced with the difficulties of obtaining natural raw materials, has switched to synthesized fragrances, among which are potentially hazardous to health: dimethyl-ethyl-butyl phthalates, musk-ketone, alcohol, etc. This is fraught with inflammation of the mucous membranes, runny nose, nausea, shortness of breath, sudden fatigue, and in severe cases, respiratory allergies and status asthmaticus. Chemicals accumulate in the body: in adipose tissue, breast milk, liver, kidneys, brain. In biological experiments on mice, these components affect the quantity and quality of sperm and lay genetic abnormalities in the offspring, are carcinogenic.

But due to commercial considerations, this will not be indicated on the label. And we will still resort to a simple means to cheer ourselves up. In addition: “everything is poison and everything is medicine”, only the dose determines the line.

Evaluation of health risks caused by musk ketone / Schmeiser HH, Gminski R., Mersch-Sundermann V. // Int J Hyg Environ Health. May 2001

Prenatal Exposure to Common Chemicals Linked to Lower IQ // Child and adolescent health, Environmental health, Maternal and reproductive health Dec. 10, 2014

By EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics // Environmental Working Group 2010

Phthalate Exposure and Children’s Health / Braun JM, Sathyanarayana S., R. Hauser // Curr Opin Pediatr. 2013


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