Let's Talk About Fragrances...Really


I love a sweet smelling fragrance but I hate not knowing what is in it. Have you ever looked at the label on your favorite perfume or cologne and seen the ambiguous term “fragrance” listed as one of the ingredients? That has always bothered me. What does that even mean?


Well, the FDA defines the term fragrance as “a combination of chemicals that gives a perfume or cologne it’s particular scent.” Multiple chemicals can be mixed together to create a very specific scent profile, so that’s still not giving us very much information. Pretty intentionally vague, right? It gets better because oftentimes these companies have the right to make it just so. Traditional perfumes and colognes may contain proprietary blends that do not need to be disclosed but may be protected as “trade secrets”.


Why is this important? According to safecosmetics.org, the International Fragrance Association lists more than 3,000 materials used in fragrances, some of which are linked to allergies, reproductive toxicity, and even cancer! Crazy right?! Maybe not...if you have ever felt dizzy, nauseous, or have experienced a headache or migraine after smelling certain fragrances. You have to wonder why they don’t require all beauty product ingredients be listed separately.

There is some hope. As transparency in food and cosmetics continues to take priority in consumers’ minds, an increasing number of companies have revealed a more complete list of their ingredients. You may have even seen the term “proprietary blend of...” followed by a list of items. This has been one way that companies are acknowledging our need for transparency while maintaining some level of propriety. It has been a good compromise between manufacturers and consumers, allowing consumers to be well informed without exposing particular recipes or other trade secrets to competitors.


We deserve the right to know what ingredients compose our favorite fragrances. We deserve transparency across the board. What we put on to our bodies and/or expose them to matters more to our health than we even realize.


For more information, visit http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/fragrance/ .


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