Ingredient Investigation: Fragrance

We are exposed to fragrances day in and day out. They are in almost every product we use. But, have you ever stopped to think about what fragrance really is? Let’s take a deep dive on these sweet smelling aromas to see why fragrances are not all created equally. 


This question does not have a simple answer. Here’s why: fragrance is a term that is used by manufacturers to denote the ingredients that give a product its scent. There is an extremely broad range of ingredients that fulfill this purpose, most of which are neither safe nor from botanical sources, as consumers generally assume. 

Manufacturers have argued that their fragrance concoctions are proprietary information and therefore they do not have to disclose the actual components of this ingredient. We call this the fragrance loophole. It allows manufacturers to create hazardous compounds of synthetic chemicals and list them on the product’s ingredient list as simply, “fragrance”.

This 100% unregulated ingredient (that actually can be comprised of over 3,000 ingredients!) is mostly made up of petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are derived from petroleum. If that sounds familiar to you it is because it is the stuff that makes up gasoline. Now, imagine breathing in fumes of gasoline all day long. That doesn’t sound good does it? Yet many consumers are doing just that with synthetic fragrance being in so many different products. 


An astonishing amount of health issues can be caused by fragrance. The reason for this is due to the wide range of different chemical combinations that can live under the label of fragrance. Each of these combinations can cause a different effect on our health. Everything from nausea to skin irritation to headaches can be caused by immediate exposure to these toxins and prolonged exposure can result in health issues such as asthma, migraines, cancer, and infertility. Fragrance exposure could be the underlying cause for many unexplainable health problems.   

Notes from Ashleigh's practice.

Throughout my years of practicing as a homeopath, I saw the direct link between exposure to synthetic fragrances and a myriad of symptoms below in my clients. Some of the many health issues that could result from constant exposure to these petrochemicals...

  • Reproductive issues, such as infertility
  • Irregular, absent, or painful menstrual cycle
  • Cancer
  • Persistent sneezing
  • Runny nose/postnasal drip
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Dryness, redness of eyes
  • Skin rash, redness, or irritation
  • Psoriasis

Oftentimes, my clients would associate these symptoms with other causative factors like allergies, the flu, stress, genetics, etc. Yet when we removed synthetic fragrances from their environments, their symptoms would be alleviated.


What makes this fragrance dilemma all the more concerning is that these chemicals are found virtually everywhere. They can be found in most conventional name brand household cleaners, air fresheners, room sprays, candles, scent diffusers, incense, perfumes and colognes, makeup, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, sunscreen, body lotion, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, dish washing liquid, hand soap, essential oils, potpourri... you name it! 


Though synthetic fragrance is pervasive, there are simple steps you can take to remove them from your environment and routine. 



Eliminate Synthetic Fragrance in 3 Steps

Collect the following items in a large storage container:

1. Air Fresheners & Candles
      • All of these items are the most obvious because they are designed to have a widespread and long-lasting scent. The removal of these items will make the biggest initial impact. 
      • Include room sprays, fragrance plug-ins, car air fresheners, oil diffusers, and anything that gives off a strong scent.
      • Any of these items that are scented with certified organic or third party tested pure essential oils can remain.
    2. Home Cleaning & Laundry Products
        • Check all household and cleaning products and remove any that list fragrance in the ingredients. It can be listed under its alternate names "natural fragrance", "fragrance oil", "perfume", or "parfum” as well.
        • Any cleaning products containing synthetic fragrance that are used in a machine (i.e. washing machine, dryer, dishwasher) will exponentially increase indoor air pollution.
      3. Personal Care Products
        • Check all personal care products and remove any that list fragrance in the ingredients. It can be listed under its alternate names "natural fragrance", "fragrance oil", "perfume", or "parfum” as well.
        • All perfume, eau de toilette, and cologne should be eliminated from your routine unless they are scented with certified organic or third party tested pure essential oils. These products that are marketed as clean fragrance, safe synthetic fragrance, or phthalate-free fragrance should also be removed.

      Place the box in your garage or somewhere you won’t be exposed to the off-gassing of the products. Commit to at least 14 days without them to witness the immediate benefits to your health. Once you’ve experienced the positive effects of removing these harmful chemicals from your life, you will never want to go back. Go ahead and toss them out, and say peace out to these unwanted toxins! 


      • Watch out for unscented label claims. This can be a clever marketing tactic to make consumers believe that the product does not contain any fragrance. But in reality, many times these manufacturers have added a masking fragrance which covers up the scent but does not remove any of the synthetic fragrance chemicals. In other words, the toxins are still there, you just can’t smell them. It is better to opt for products that have been naturally formulated to be fragrance-free. 
      • If you want to use scented products safely, choose ones that are scented with 100% pure essential oils instead. Just note that not all essential oils are the same. Some manufacturers hide synthetic ingredients under the essential oil line item. Making sure they are made with certified organic third party tested pure essential oils means they have been evaluated to ensure they do not contain contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, or synthetic ingredients. 

      Removing synthetic fragrance from your life is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your toxin exposure and improve your body’s toxic load. Let us know how your fragrance detox is going by sharing photos of the products you’re eliminating on Instagram!