I get it; we all like to smell nice. In fact, there’s a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to insuring that we do. Unfortunately this results in many people dousing their bodies in synthetic fragrances and perfumes 7 days a week, including cosmetics, personal care products, household cleaners, air-fresheners, deodorizers, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and so on. While this may smell nice, the effects are anything but.

Here’s why I believe everyone should step out from under the fragrance cloud:

1. Fragrances Don’t Stay on the Surface

They Go Deep When you lather-up or spray down the body and home with scented products, your body absorbs many of the chemicals through the skin, nose and mouth. Though this might not seem like a big deal, the body has to work hard to filter out each of the chemicals you inadvertently ingest, and over time, these toxins accumulate in the body and cause trouble.

2. A Rose by Any Other Name….

The word “fragrance” is essentially a euphemism for the nearly 4,000 or so different chemical ingredients that can wind up in your scented products, most of which are synthetic, petroleum- based and toxic to our bodies, capable of triggering skin problems, allergies, respiratory difficulties, hormonal, metabolic and thyroid problems, and even certain cancers and neurological problems.

3. Fragrances Are Mysterious Chemical Cocktails

Identifying individual chemicals that make up a particular fragrance is virtually impossible for consumers because manufacturers aren’t required to list every ingredient in their proprietary fragrance brews, meaning questionable ingredients are hidden behind the word “fragrance,” keeping corporate secrets safe and consumers at risk.

4. Think of Fragrance as a Toxic Layer Cake

According to consumer advocates The Environmental Working Group, over the course of the average day, most women are exposed to over 160 chemicals from their cosmetics alone! Add to that a few shower products, hair products, cleaning products and a load of laundry or two, and the amount of daily chemical exposure climbs even higher. The EWG also reported that tests of fragrance ingredients have found an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including ones linked to hormone disruption and sperm damage.


All this doesn’t mean that you have to spend the rest of your days completely scent-free – just enjoy ‘em in a smarter, healthier way. Steer clear of synthetic fragrances and consider the following simple scent-sible adjustments:


  • Buy the greenest, unscented cosmetics, personal care products, household cleaners and fabric softeners you can find.
  • If you’re particularly addicted to a scented product and simply refuse to give it up, then cut usage back by half or a third or water it down. Another option: alternate between a clean, green, unscented product and your scented favorite. It’s all about reducing exposure, and the more of it you do the better.
  • Get to know the bad guy toxins by name and reputation by referring to the EWG’s Consumer Guides and purchasing accordingly.
  • Try making your own scents from essential oils. They’re made from truly natural ingredients like flowers, leaves and grasses, and are kinder to your body, your home and the planet. And remember – don’t be fooled by bottles marked fragrance oils as they are almost always made of must-to-avoid synthetic ingredients.

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