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"Toxic Chemicals" in Scented Products

Do you have a beauty product to hand? Perhaps a hand cream in the depth of your handbag or better still go to your bathroom and grab your favourite moisturiser. Now read the ingredients label do you see the word “fragrance” or “parfum” or “perfume”? 

Synthetic fragrance is found in a wide variety of products from skin care to household items such as air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, candles. Fragrance/Perfume is a blanket term. Manufacturers are not required to list the toxic ingredients that are used to formulate that scent you adore because they are protected by trademark laws. 

"The National Academy of Sciences reports that 95% of the chemicals used in fragrances today are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum, including known toxins capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. We have been brainwashed by the industry to feel we must cover up our natural scents with toxic chemicals. Many of the same chemicals in perfumes are the same chemicals that are in cigarette smoke." allnaturalbeauty.us/chemicalsensitivities

There are over 500 potential toxic chemicals that can be used under the term “fragrance”. Rather than create a long list of unpronounceable words I thought it would be easier to link a list click here. This is a widely discussed topic and there are many informative articles online explaining the possible health risks should you wish to research further. 

Many of us including me have allergic reactions to fragrance in products. Symptoms vary and range from headache, sinus pain, sore throat, breathing difficulties (such as asthma) or skin irritations (rash/itching/hives). If you experience any of these symptoms when in contact with your own or other people’s fragrance products you could be experiencing sensitivity to the perfume.

So what should you look for when buying beauty products? You are probably thinking that fragrance free or unscented is your best option. The answer there is a surprising NO. You have to be careful of these two words as a product may still contain perfume to mask a chemical odour. Confused? Yes include me in that. Basically the ingredients making up the product may have an undesirable odour so it is covered up but not to the extent needed to be noticeable to the consumer (further info link). The alternative is to opt for products containing genuine essential oil. Consider purchasing from companies that eliminate toxic ingredients in favour of natural alternatives because on the whole they do not include synthetic fragrance. However do remember that essential oils can also be allergens or skin irritants so hyper sensitive skins should still be cautious. The key is to read ingredients and become familiar with the language. If you see fragrance or perfume listed check for a footnote to explain the source. 

Over the years I have noticed sensitivity to household cleaners and air fresheners. Usually my breathing is affected by these products. If you are feeling thrifty you can make your own cleaner from items like white vinegar, baking soda and lemons. There are many natural cleaning tips online if you wish to do more research. I learnt from Earth Friendly Beauty that Clove oil can be used instead of bleach to kill mould. If making your own cleaning agents sounds like too much effort consider brands such as The Bio-D Company, Bentley Organic, Earth Friendly Products, and Soda Crystals. Sadly the majority of these brands do not appear on Supermarket shelves you have to order them online or seek them out in a local health food store.

I recently switched to Soap Flakes (purchased from Tesco) for hand washing delicates.  I've broken out with eczema where my bra sits so decided I need to avoid my laundry liquid for the time being.  Soap Flakes is pure soap with no added fragrance or perfume, vegetable origin, contains no animal products, not tested on animals and is palm oil free.

I guess my overall message is to inform you to be aware of what you put on your skin and breathe in.  Next time you purchase the latest celebrity perfume or a beauty product or an air freshener consider what toxic chemicals might be lurking in the bottle.    

Thank you to Anna of Gaia Creams for suggesting this post topic.

Disclaimer – I am neither a medical expert nor a scientist all information in this article has been formulated from my own research into the subject matter and personal experiences.  


  1. Great post! I've been reading up more and more about why to avoid synthetic fragrances and it really is scary to hear that fragrance companies don't have to list ingredients at all, they can add in any kind of poison (and often do).

    Thankfully i'm not much of a perfume girl but cleaning products definitely irritate me. Bleach is the worst one, it's my boyfriend's mum's favourite cleaning product and I can still smell the stuff a week after use. She uses it in the bathroom which results in my eyes watering for a whole day and being unable to breathe properly. When I get my own place it will be a bleach free zone! My room is bleach free but the bathroom fumes still affect me since they're quite close.

    I wish that greener cleaning products were more readily available in supermarkets as it's really inconvenient having to order online. I've read that you can use oils like Eucalyptus to help wash clothes and Lavender is a good deodoriser to add into the wash too.

  2. @MissTeaAddict I'm so pleased you liked my post. I know what you mean about bleach but I don't think my reaction is as bad as yours. I get that kind of reaction to deodorant and its worse with Men's ones no clue why that would be.

  3. Thanks for stopping by the Sit and Relax weekend hop again!! I know they're bad for me, but I'm a sucker for those fragrances. :( I wish there was a better way to smell pretty without all the bad stuff.

  4. Very tough to go without chemicals! It is amazing how we are all wrapped by this bubble, chemicals are everywhere!
    Thankfully I'm not allergic to anything. I always choose green cleaning detergent and dishwashing liquid, for the environment's sake :)

  5. @Su that's an important point reducing chemicals in the home will hopefully help with environmental issues, less bleach down the drain has to be a good thing?

  6. This is a great post. Thanks for the info xx