You know that toxic-smelling, headache-inducing perfume cloud you sometimes unwittingly walk into? The one that leaves you momentarily (or longer) queasy and taken aback? That is synthetic fragrance and it is in everything from shampoos and skincare to baby care products. It is also, of course, the mainstay in conventional perfumes. Thankfully, natural perfumes that you’d actually want to wear are now an option.
Synthetic Fragrance 411
Let’s back up to that nausea-provoking synthetic fragrance for a moment. A mainstream perfume is concocted of a combination of synthetic ingredients. A chemical recipe created, and protected, by individual manufacturers. No two recipes may be alike, but the ingredients used are very similar. And very toxic.
These chemical cocktails can do more than make you feel bad. Phthalates, some of the most toxic (and ubiquitous) ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products, are linked to hormonal disruptions, asthma, allergies, skin irritation, and the proliferation of cancerous tumors. While phthalates and other harmful chemical ingredients are still vastly under regulated here in the US, the European Union has banned their use in personal care products.
Diethyl phthalate (DEP)may be the toxic culprit’s name, but you will be hard pressed to find it on a perfume ingredient listing. Most perfume manufacturers slide their synthetic fragrance ingredients under the blanket term fragrance. And it’s perfectly legal. Terms like fragrance and parfum are permitted due to a FDA loophole which allows cosmetics manufacturers to guard their secret recipes. Yes, those celeb scents you see at your local drugstore are packing toxic ingredients under the guise of trade secret.
Obviously this ambiguous labelling practice makes identifying what’s really in your fragrance pretty tricky. Now here’s the real clincher. Many nontoxic perfume makers also utilize the trade secret loophole, using fragrance on their product labels. Their ingredients may be absolutely natural but you may still see this vague term on the listing. Brands committed to safety in cosmetics most often include a notation under the listing, connoting their use of natural fragrance ingredients. Something like: *from natural essential oils. If you are unsure whether a product contains chemical or natural fragrance ingredients, check the brand website for an ingredient commitment or ask me and I will find out for you. Remember, no full ingredient disclosure should raise concern about a brand’s ingredients.
A New Day for Natural Perfumes
Nontoxic perfumes are made with a combination of floral waters, floral and plant essences, and natural essential oils. If you are a scent wearer, natural perfume is the answer to this healthy lifestyle quandary. Skeptical? You’ve most likely sampled a natural fragrance and had an underwhelming experience. While organic skincare, makeup, body care, even hair care have come a million miles and perform as well as their toxin-laden counterparts, perfume hadn’t quite made the jump. I too have been repeatedly disappointed by the latest natural scent time and again. Until recently, that is.
There are now natural perfumes that smell delicious and less like an old vial of neroli from the ’70s. (No offense if neroli is your gig.) The best part, you can enjoy these little beauties without absorbing the toxic nastiness of chemical fragrance.
5 Natural Perfumes That Smell Fantastic
Tata Harper Love Potion – The pinnacle of my newfound love for natural perfume. The perfect mixture of rose, citrus, and something earthy. I love myself more when I wear it.
Lotus Wei Infinite Love Perfume – So softly floral and fresh, yet really lasts. This one smells like you worked in a floral essence lab all day long. In only the very best way.
Strange Invisible Perfumes Eau de Parfum Prima Ballerina – A cross between Love Potion and something a bit spicier. This one is perfect for evening because it offers just a hint of duskiness.
Honoré Des Prés Love Coconut – Who isn’t a sucker for coconut? It induces that warm summertime feel and this perfume smells almost drinkable. Use year ‘round to boost mood.
Abel Organics Vintage ‘13 – This unique fragrance works on either guys or gals, bestowing a woody spiciness. Like a walk through a forest on a late summer evening. That was kinda cheesy, but once you experience it you’ll totally understand.
Safe, beautifully scented, sans the toxic chemical cloud. You may just find that new (healthy) signature scent after all.
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Image via Alexander Shustov at Unsplash, cc