Are fragrances good for health? 6 Shocking facts


We are surrounded by fragrances all around, God has made so many things for us, the scent of which fascinates us a lot.

Fragrances are added to many man-made products also, whether they are personal care products, cleaning equipment, or body sprays, innumerable chemicals are used to make all these products scent stronger.

But none of these chemicals you’ll see listed on the label, all this process is done in a very confidential way.

To protect ‘trade secrets’ cosmetics companies keep the fragrance ingredients secret. So hazards in products cannot be assessed merely on the basis of the packaging ingredients list.

Only essential oils and natural ingredients used in the products are mentioned in the list but the synthetic fragrances are kept hidden so that people can trust the authenticity of a particular product.

Is synthetic fragrance reliable?

Synthetic fragrances pose higher health risks than natural fragrances. No state or globe authority regulates the safety of formulation process of these fragrances, not even knows which chemicals are used in which product.

A few years ago, a study of personal care and cleaning brands, found that almost 75% of all the toxic chemicals which came to light in tests of nearly 150 products were found only in fragrances. And the chemicals identified were associated with a deadly disease like cancer.

Numerous research studies have classified perfumes chemicals as allergens, asthma stimulants, irritants, and carcinogens.

Harmful chemicals and their effects

Women in particular are more affected by these harmful chemicals as they use more beauty and skincare products that contain chemicals hidden in fragrances.

And the chemicals are absorbed into their bodies through the skin. These chemicals are volatile organic compounds {limonene (LIM), α-pinene (APN), β-pinene, linalool (LIL)} which are vaporized into the air and react with ozone to produce secondary pollutants (formaldehyde & acetaldehyde).

When they are released from the fragrances, they can contribute to poor indoor air quality and are linked to multiple health issues.

Sometimes, a variety of odors such as perfumes, gas, cigarette, are found to be a nuisance for some migraine sufferers and asthma patients as well.

Is the fragrance industry regulated?

Wearing fragrances may make your personality appealing and irresistible but you’re unknowingly getting yourself in trouble. The cosmetic industry has long been working unregulated which could lead to serious health problems for the consumers who purchase these products annually.

Jane Houlihan, Vice President for Research at the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

In the absence of government jurisdiction, the task of scrutinizing the safety of the elements present in personal care products is done through the Cosmetic Industry Review (CIR) process.

But if there’s no CIR program, there would be no organized analysis of the safety of cosmetic ingredients, says John Bailey, head of the personal care products lobby’s group science division.

Should the scent-free policy be implemented in a workplace?

Applying scent is so common that everyone considers it necessary to wear it on the daily basis. Whether he’s working in a high position or just an ordinary employee.

This trend has even increased among school-going children. Not only this but also GMs in hotel lobbies consider it important to perfume the rooms for their guests.

In addition, smokers play their part too in polluting the air and infecting people with multiple harmful chemicals present in tobacco products.

Not only is scent harmful to the person who’s wearing it but also affects the people around who can feel this aroma.

If someone finds aroma unpleasant, it may have adverse effects such as aggression, nausea, skin irritation, respiratory issues, human development toxicity, etc.

Fragrances & human psyche

However, the reactions of chemicals may vary from person to person, with some people complaining of mild inflammation, while many people avoid going to public places to avoid these fragrances, resulting in severe mental illness, depression, and anxiety.

This condition is usually known as ‘’Environmental Sensitivities’’ which explains a condition whereby a person shows some reactions when disclosed to the specific environmental agents and allergens such as dust, perfumes, paint, cleaners, etc. The severity of these reactions may be different.

Should companies disclose fragrance ingredients?

Fragrance ingredients, like any other cosmetics ingredients, need to be fully secured. For people who use these products regularly or rely on them according to the labeled instructions, it’s really important to make sure that these products are safe, well-informed, and free from harmful chemicals.

It’s the responsibility of all the cosmetics and beauty companies to ensure the safety and authenticity of their products and to verify if these products are labeled properly or not.

As in many countries, fragrance ingredients are not regulated in the same way as food or other products. These products are simply listed as ‘’parfum’’ or ‘’fragrance’’ which offers a complex blend of multiple chemicals.

But not all chemicals used in fragrances are listed individually, which makes it difficult for consumers to determine which product may harm them and which may not.

Steps should be taken

  • It’s better to look for a product labeled ‘’fragrance free’’ before purchasing any product if you’re allergic to fragrances.
  • FDA (food and drug administration) should be provided with the authority to ask for disclosures of fragrance ingredients so that there’s no doubt left about the authenticity of any product.
  • Try to maintain good indoor air quality.
  • Employers should be asked to implement ‘no fragrance policy’ and provide scent-free rooms to ensure the safety of all the workers.
  • Talk to a scented person in a very respectful manner and let him aware of your sensitivity issues towards fragrances. It’s possible that individual may understand and cooperate with you if he had no idea about the harmful effects of chemicals found in fragrances.

Consult your physician about your sensitivities and symptoms.

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