Life

The Darker Side of Perfumes

Why you might want to take a second look at what you're spritzing

Whether it's a Friday night party or Monday morning class, perfumes might be your routine go to if you're looking to feel extra fancy, or if you're running late and haven't had a chance to freshen up. With a million and one choices to choose from, you really can't go wrong - or can you? Government oversight on cosmetics is fairly lax, and they tend to take the approach of it's safe until we learn it isn't, so we're here to help you become a pro on picking perfumes that are both full of personality and free of unnecessary chemicals.


What sort of regulations do we have in place right now?

In the U.S., the news is a bit disheartening. The global cosmetics industry is enormous ($265B in revenue to be precise) while the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Office of Cosmetics and Colors, which regulates cosmetics including perfume is super tiny (a measly $13M). With such little money and manpower, it's difficult to ensure the strictest of safety standards for all cosmetic products being released (1). Furthermore, the Office of Cosmetics and Colors also has very limited authority to do anything since there is no legal requirement for cosmetic companies to collect or report on adverse products/events or even register marketed products (1). This is because the FDA follows general guidelines that ingredients in personal care products are safe unless proven unsafe (2). Even though this means more freedom, if the products are never tested for safety, we'll never know what we are putting on our bodies. It could be totally fine, or it could be full of chemicals that cause health problems. Without testing, we will never know. Luckily, there are many independent groups other than the government that carry out testing of personal care products!

Here's the evidence from independent research

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners conducted a study on 25 personal care and cleaning products, of the top 10 most hazardous ones, 5 were popular perfumes which all happened to be endorsed by celebrities. Each of these perfumes contained between 11 and 18 chemicals linked to chronic health concerns, like disrupting how your hormones should work, respiratory irritation and diseases, and cancer (3). In another study published in June, the scientists looked at Victoria Secret's Bombshell perfume and Ivanka Trump's line of perfume and found the same chemicals that are used in DEET (insect repellent). Even though DEET is fairly safe for repelling bugs, it just goes to show that sometimes random ingredients pop up in our products that really don't belong there (4)! One final study looked at the esters (chemicals that give perfumes their smells) of 47 perfumes and found that these esters don't only mess up how hormones in your body work, they are also genotoxic, meaning they mess up your DNA, which can lead to lots of health problems down the road! The amount of esters used in each of these perfumes was also much higher than safety levels set by Greenpeace (5). Not all perfumes are made equal, and all this research on the safety of perfumes has prompted many companies to start producing less toxic perfumes. Tips on how to jump on that trend right coming right up.

Here's our recommendations for perfume usage

  1. Try switching over to using perfumes scented with essential oils: Essential oils are made by using plant of flower extracts and are a step up from using synthetically produced perfumes (6). However, remember that everyone responds differently to products, so if you're trying out a new essential oil, definitely carry out a few skin tests to ensure that your skin doesn't freak out with a specific essential oil (6). You should also know that there are some essential oils that should be avoided or used sparingly. If essential oils are calling your name, we've written up a guide to help you pick the safest ones!
  2. Look for alcohol-based perfumes and perfumes that are free of parabens, phthalates and ingredients labeled as "fragrance." Fragrance is just another word for synthetic (a.k.a chemical-filled) scents (7).
  3. Choose products with bases of coconut oil, almond oil or beeswax if you're interested in perfume balms (6).
  4. Stay away from scents that seem like they weren't derived from plants or flowers (i.e. a perfume that smells like a mixture of cotton candy and roses probably isn't the most non-toxic).
  5. Save perfume usage for special days, and on those days, spray them on your clothing instead of directly on your skin to prevent your skin from coming into contact with the chemicals in your perfume.
  6. Time your sprays accordingly. Your skin absorbs a greater amount of chemicals when it is fully hydrated, than when it is dry. What this means is that you probably don't want to spritz yourself right after a shower or applying moisturizer (8).

The whole point of perfume is that it helps you feel more awesome. That shouldn't just be about how you smell, but about what you put on your body. So, do a little digging and pick the best perfume overall - not just one that TSwift lent her name to. While smelling like Taylor might seem like living your best life, being covered in toxic chemicals probably isn't the best (it also won't help you dance like Britney in Toxic any better either - we know from experience).

media0.giphy.com


References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2633254?guestAccessKey=616a4177-35d1-487b-94ec-b726cb4aec11
  2. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/guidanceregulation/lawsregulations/ucm074162.htm
  3. https://d124kohvtzl951.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/26035904/BCPP_Right-To-Know-Report_Final-2_9.20.18.pdf
  4. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0199386
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-017-9978-1
  6. https://happyholistichealth.com/2014/07/01/chemical-free-natural-perfume-alternatives/
  7. https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/default.htm
  8. https://toxtutor.nlm.nih.gov/10-004.html
Roundups

10 Best Non-Toxic Sunscreens

For the beach and all your outdoor sweaty activities. Reef safe too!

We updated our sunscreen roundup for 2019 with the 10 best reviewed, non-toxic mineral sunscreens we could find. As always, we make sure that our picks are easy to find online and in stores.

Sunscreen in our minds is synonymous with summer and being outside! But there are so many choices, it's hard to know if what you're getting is something that actually works and that other people like. Not to mention that there are some questionable chemicals in sunscreens that are definitely horrible for coral reefs and might be endocrine disruptors that soak through your skin. So look for one of our top 10 picks for non-toxic sunscreens the next time your tube is empty. We have plenty of options for everyday wear, sweaty sports and beach days!

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL

Heard of those sunscreen bans in Hawaii and Key West and thought "Well I'm never vacationing there so doesn't apply to me?" Well, turns out the chemicals in the ban that are bad for coral reefs may not be great for human health either. New FDA sunscreen guidelines could also change what active ingredients are found in sunscreen. Read more to find out how to get the safest sunscreen this summer.

Keep Reading Show Less

Tired of changing and throwing away tampons or pads every month? Want a zero-waste alternative for your period? Heard of menstrual cups and period underwear, but not sure which one to pick? Well, look no further! We rounded up the 10 best-reviewed non-toxic menstrual cups and organic period underwear options for you to try out. All of the menstrual cups are made of a flexible medical-grade silicone that collect fluid instead of absorbing it. The period underwear options we found are made with organic cotton, and can be washed.

Keep Reading Show Less
Family

Environmental Factors May Have a Bigger Impact on Fertility than You Think

Breaking Down the Science and Ways to Limit Harmful Exposures

Trying to get pregnant should be an exciting time of planning for the next stage of your life, not one full of doctors visits, constant testing, and worrying about body temperatures. But, if you and your partner are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. According to the CDC about 12% of women have impaired fecundity, which is another way of saying that they are having difficulty getting or staying pregnant (1) [there are no statistics on infertility in men, but there is science showing that overall sperm count is decreasing(14)]. And, the science is clear, environmental factors definitely impact reproductive health - for both men and women. Some of the biggest impacts come from air pollution, pesticides, and endocrine disrupting chemicals (2), which are in all sorts of products and affect the way hormones interact with your body.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

9 Stainless Steel & Glass Tumblers

For iced coffee, iced tea, and smoothies on the go

Getting iced coffee in a plastic cup with a plastic straw is a lot harder to do after watching that video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtle's nose. Plus there is also that pesky condensation that creates a pool of water at the bottle of your cupholder or on your desk. So we found the 9 best reviewed stainless steel and glass tumblers, so that you can have your iced beverages in style this summer. Many of the brands have different sizes ranging from 20oz to 30oz and variety of colors. We prefer stainless steel or glass because many of the acrylic or plastic tumblers may have chemicals similar to BPA. We also link to some stainless steel straws because not all of these tumblers come with straws. And if you're like us, drinking iced coffee through a straw is just synonymous with summer.

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

Easy Ways To Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh Without the Synthetic Scents

Cause Traditional Car Air Fresheners Are No Good For Your Health

Those little tree-shaped air fresheners dangling from a rear-view mirror or air vent clip-ons may feel festive, but most car air fresheners can be bad for your health. They seem so innocent, so how is that possible you might ask?

One of the biggest issues with these products is the mystery behind what goes into them. Believe it or not, It's actually hard to be 100% certain about what chemicals are in air fresheners. There's a ton of secrecy into what actually goes into a fragrance product because companies can claim their ingredients are trade secrets. We definitely can't say a product is safe if we don't even know what is used to make it.

However, we do know that most air fresheners are made up of a ton of synthetic fragrances. There are literally thousands of chemicals manufacturers can choose from when making a product with synthetic fragrance. And a lot of these chemicals are known to have negative impacts on our health. (1)

On top of that, fragrance in air fresheners usually contain both phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (2). Although these chemicals can make scents powerful, they can also be allergens that cause coughing, headaches, and runny noses (2). Phthalates are also hormone disruptors and VOCs can be carcinogens. We definitely don't want to be constantly breathing in those chemicals, no matter how good they might smell!

The amount of space inside your car is also a reason we don't like traditional car air fresheners. A smaller space = more concentrated exposure, and since you probably have your windows closed 90% of the time, a car is one of the worst places to keep a strongly-scented product.

Luckily, there are easy, nontoxic ways to make your car smell fresh! You can keep a container filled with baking soda or a baking soda freezer pack hidden somewhere. Baking soda is a completely natural way to eliminate odors and a box is only a couple of dollars! Using scents from natural sources are also a great way to add a little freshness to your car. You can put a few drops of an essential oil onto a clothespin or another wooden item and leave it somewhere in your car (3). When the smell goes away, just replenish with a few more drops of oil! If you prefer something a little more contained, we also love putting satchels of lavender or rose petals around our car.

But perhaps the easiest way to get rid of a bad smell is to simply roll your windows down! Maybe rolling down the windows will help make your commute a little more relaxing too.

References:

  1. https://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070919
  2. https://kellybroganmd.com/is-your-uber-air-freshener-making-you-sick/
  3. https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/how-to-make-3-naturally-scented-air-fresheners-for-cars/
Roundups

12 Best Non-Toxic Diaper Creams

Our top recommendations for your baby's bottom that parents love

Updated for 2019!

We get it- you're busy but you also want the best for your baby. But who has the time to sit down and do hours of research on the best diaper creams for your baby's bottom? That's why we're here! We have nothing butt (get it?) amazing products for our non-toxic diaper cream roundup. These 12 products are free from irritants like fragrances and use soothing ingredients to keep diaper rash at bay. Some options have non-nano zinc oxide to protect the skin, and some work more as an ointment to prevent redness. Looking for an organic diaper balm? We've got those too. As always, we thoroughly researched consumer reviews to ensure you're getting a stellar product that actually works and that parents love.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL