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

12 Essentials for Packing a Plastic Free Lunch

our favorite reusable items for packing lunch for the kids (and yourself!)

As all the kids are going back to school, it's time to get ready to start getting creative when it comes to packing lunches. While plastic sandwich bags may be convenient, they aren't the healthiest and are only adding to the plastic problem in our oceans. Instead, stock up on some of these lunchbox essentials. They are reusable, washable, and healthier than a bag full of plastic containers. We also have a roundup of general food storage containers you might want to check out.

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

Everyone has their favorite water bottle - a Camelbak with the chewy straw, or a new shiny S'well bottle, or the Hydroflask that keeps your drink icy for days. And, we know that reusable plastic water bottles have some perks- lightweight, see through, indestructible- but they also have one big drawback, the plastic. Plastics, even ones that are BPA free, are often made of chemicals that can seep into water and affect your health. So, that's where this big question comes into play. Do I have to (or should I) ditch my beloved Nalgene with all my stickers from travels throughout the years?

Our answer is - you don't have to pitch it, but it probably shouldn't be your primary bottle either. You can stop reading here and check our our roundup of a dozen glass and stainless steel reusable water bottles if that's enough info for you, or you can keep reading and well give you some tips and nuggets of info on why those tips will make a difference.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

A Dozen Reusable Water Bottles

Our top picks for glass and stainless steel water bottles

If you've made it here, you probably already know that bottled water isn't great. Plastic in general can also be tough because of the ever popular BPA and it's sister chemicals. So, we collected 12 of our favorite plastic-free, reusable water bottles so you don't have to go hunting. Many of these brands make many types of bottle and cups. Feel free to poke around to find a size or shape that might work better for you, but keep in mind always go for glass or stainless steel. That assures that even if the plastic bottles are BPA free, you won't have to worry about BPA replacements. It's often tough to find bottles without plastic lids, but if the water isn't constantly touching the lid, a plastic lid usually isn't something to get too worried about.

If you have some old plastic reusable water bottles kicking around (who doesn't!) then check out our advice about how to use them safely.

Keep Reading Show Less
Science

Having Trouble Keeping a Healthy Weight?

Here's why chemicals might be keeping you from shedding those last few pounds

If you're eating healthy, getting lots of sleep, but just can't seem to hit a healthy weight, it might be something you've never thought about. Obesogens, a term coined in 2006 to refer to chemicals that cause us to gain and hold on to weight, and can influence weight loss. Now, we know that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is influenced by what seems like a bajillion factors, and is a complicated issue with no easy solution. But, it looks like obesogens are a piece of the puzzle and definitely something you want to be aware about. Data shows that obesity is an increasing problem. Over one-third of both adults and children in the U.S. are obese or overweight (1, 5). Even for people who regularly work out or have superhuman strength to say no to desserts, obesogens are having an impact. Unfortunately, as obesogen research is in its early stages, we still don't know everything about these chemicals and how they affect weight gain, but as of now, here's what we do know.

Keep Reading Show Less

Cleaning is important, you should definitely do it. While it can be a not very fun chore, unless you relate to Monica on a spiritual level, it really is something that should be done regularly. Besides germs, cleaning removes all the yucky (and potentially chemically laden) dust and dirt that can collect in your home over time. While it might seem like you should also disinfect your surfaces when you clean to kill any crazy germs that might be hanging out, it's not as necessary as you might think. And, using a strong, commercial disinfectant is definitely not needed or advised. Do you really want to use something all over your home that comes with a huge caution or warning sign on it?

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

Gifts! Gifts! Gifts!

Plastic-free, zero waste, and full of heart

As the holidays start to sneak up on us, we have been pulling together some of our favorite homemade gifts. All of which happen to be plastic-free, zero waste, edible (because food!). Bonus, they are all delicious and help cut down on both the plastic you and your loved ones are exposed to, plus how much ends up in the environment. Not to mention they look really awesome and a homemade gift is a unique way to show you really care. One more benefit, you can pull them together super last minute, get pretty much everything you need at the grocery store (most of it in bulk even) and avoid the heinous parking scene at the mall.

Keep Reading Show Less
Family

Non-Toxic Bassinets and Cosleepers

All well-reviewed and safe for your newborn to sleep in all night (or day) long

*whispers* The baby's asleep! *silent celebrating* And, while the baby is snoozing away, you can actually eat some food and shower. While getting the baby to sleep can be a bit of a headache, figuring out where you will be gently laying them down in the first few months once they are asleep shouldn't be. So, we did all of the hair pulling research to narrow it down to a selection of 8 non-toxic bassinets and cosleepers that parents and experts agree are great options. Without further ado, here are the top picks.

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