the truth about synthetic fragrances

The Truth about Synthetic Fragrances

Synthetic fragrances are all around us in our everyday life. We have come to love them in perfumes, cherish them in personal care products and use them daily in our home to freshen the air and clean the floors, but one secret no body talks about is what exactly do these synthetic chemicals do to us? How do they interact in the body, and do they have any negative side effects?

Anything synthetic needs to be questioned and understood.

I remember vividly the nurses telling me not to wear perfumes (synthetic fragrances) around my new born baby. Why? I guess we must ask this? If not safe around your baby how are they safe around your bigger kids? Yourself? Your partner?

synthetic perfumes are harmful for fertility, pregnancy and kids

The questions started to unravel. I then had a very interesting conversation with a good friend of mine who told me she fell pregnant through IVF after removing all the synthetic fragrances from her life and home. She even went on to say that they had even advised her not to use any fragranced soaps/ body washes in the shower prior to the egg pick-up. The pre-admission notes stated this was due to the potential impact to eggs/sperm from fragrances.

I have spoken to many women who have been through IVF but this is the first time fragrances effecting fertility has ever been made aware to me. How many women out there are using these products without knowing the damage they are causing. This even flows through to pregnancy, our kids health and our ongoing health.

I find this all very interesting, my curiosity was definitely spiked and for this reason I started to research more. After seeing someone spray a weed with a perfume bottle, I took it upon myself to spray a weed with synthetic fragrance too. Guess what happened? The weed died! No shock really but it concerns me greatly to think every day mums spray themselves with these toxic chemicals and then feed their babies, pick them up, not too mention the damage they are doing to themselves.

Did you know synthetic fragrances are linked to cancer? Thyroid cancer in particular but not limited to. This is shocking how can these chemicals still reside on the shop shelves. It’s pure negligence.

What are Synthetic Fragrances?

Synthetic fragrances are a group of chemical molecules that are artificially made to create a scent, hundreds of undisclosed chemicals combined to make one ‘fragrance’.

Fragrance ingredients may be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials. Companies that manufacture perfume or cologne purchase fragrance mixtures from fragrance houses (companies that specialize in developing fragrances) to develop their own proprietary blends. In addition to “scent” chemicals that create the fragrance, perfumes and colognes also contain solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes.

what are synthetic fragrances

Synthetic fragrances are often referred to as phthalates or as to containing phthalates which are a series of compounds also found in plastics that are hugely detrimental to adults and children.

Natural scents such as essential oils are expensive to make and therefore scientists had a motive to synthetically mimic essential oils in the lab as to save money and to create a market that they could Patent. Hence the perfume industry was born.

With companies creating and Patenting unique scents, we saw brand names jumping on board and making their own unique concoction of synthetic chemicals. Giving the concoction a name, marketing the name and selling them for hundreds of dollars. Little do people understand that they are paying a fortune to smell like fake chemicals and harm their body.

Where do you find Synthetic Fragrances?

Synthetic fragrnaces are found in so many everyday items we consume and have in our home:

where do you find synthetic fragrances?

You can even find synthetic fragrances in the plastic handle of your shaving razor.

It is mind boggling how much we are exposed to synthetic fragrances just in our home alone.

In our car we find synthetic car smell (especially when new), the car air fresheners are all synthetic fragrances.

Kids toys and stationary are proficient for using synthetic fragrances such as texters, playdough, slime, ink pens, pencils and the list goes on.

What are the Health Dangers of Synthetic Fragrances?

The dangers of synthetic fragrances are extensive.

Many synthetic chemicals in fragrances are petroleum-based and can be harmful to human health. Chemicals found in fragrances include phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors, and carcinogens benzophenone and styrene.

Synthetic fragrances also contain chemicals which are obesogens. Obesogens make it hard to loose weight and therefore using these toxic chemicals can work against any weight loss goals you may have.

As a harmful hormone disrupter, we are seeing a rise in the early onset of puberty in young kids as early as 9 years of age, from compounding exposure to these shocking chemicals.

According to Force of Nature the dangers of synthetic fragrances need to be understood:

dangers of synthetic fragrances

“To arm parents with the information they need to make safe product choices, we’ve compiled the top 7 things manufacturers don’t want you to know about fragrance safety:

  1. Fragrances are linked to a staggering number of health risks. Across multiple research studies, chemicals used to make fragrances are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers, neurotoxins & carcinogens. The punchline: fragrances are highly toxic.
  2. Fragrances commonly contain phthalates, which are chemicals that help the scents last longer. Health risks for phthalates are startling and include cancer, human reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects & respiratory problems. These toxic villains are very hard to avoid because manufacturers are not required to list them on ingredient labels.
  3. Fragrance chemicals, like other toxic chemicals, can pass from the skin and into the blood.
  4. Manufacturers are not required to list their fragrance ingredients on product labels.  Often only one word, “fragrance”, is used on the label and can hide a cocktail of more than 100 toxic ingredients. This is because fragrances are considered to be “trade secrets”.
  5. The fragrance industry regulates itself, so that safety testing does not have to be confirmed by regulators before products are sold to consumers.
  6. So called “natural fragrances” can be just as toxic as synthetic fragrances. (it’s all about what’s behind the label)
  7. Whether it’s in a cleaning product, deodorant, shampoo, or laundry detergent, fragrance chemicals aren’t actually making your product perform better – they are just giving you that perception. We’ve been trained to think that clean has a smell, when in truth that’s not the case.”

We have to be aware of the labelling regulations out there. The word ‘organic’ is used loosely, so is the word ‘natural’ and ‘100% pure’. Current regulations mean that only a proportion of the overall solution at hand needs to contain a small percentage of organic, pure, natural substance such as an essential oil to be labelled so. Labelling is extremely misleading and quite negligent especially when these products are used by families; on pregnant mums, babies and kids.

The safest thing to do is bypass the synthetic products, stick to a company you can trust and use only products that you are are extremely confident that they contain no synthetics. To guarantee this I made my own products as to rest assure I was not being conned by another multi national trying to line their pockets at the expense of my children’s health.

You only have to look around to see some of the devastation caused by the greed and negligence we see around us. As a parent we have to do our own research and it is on us to make informed decisions to protect our kids.

What can I use Instead?

As a mum completely and utterly concerned about chemical exposures, I set out to find ingredients that would allow me to make my own baby and kids products. Taking away the dependence on the multi nationals and other companies out there to solve my problems. After much trust was repeatedly broken time and time again as I would find nasty chemicals in baby products, I took it upon myself to find a safer option.

Teething products are ripe with nasty chemicals, so are barrier creams, baby wipes and nappy sprays.

Now, as a DIY mum master, we make everything and it is so liberating not to have to venture out of the home every time one little mishap occurs.

It is simple to make everything you need from skin care to cleaning products to baby products, sun care options to personal care such as deodorant and body wash.

I also wanted to find a natural perfume I could wear that was safe around my kids. This is when I discovered essential oils.

Essential oils are a natural option for fragrance however you can be fooled here too. Not all essential oils are created equally and many companies combine both natural ‘órganic’ compounds with fake ‘inorganic’ compounds to make a scent cheaper and more profitable. This is called adulteration and is common in about 96% of all essential oils on the market.

what can i use instead of synthetic fragrnaces?

When I was researching essential oils I was focused on finding the most transparent essential oil company in the world. I wanted to know where the oils come from, how they are tested, what the batch results are, how to safely use them and how they work in the body. I was skipping no corners to ensure the essential oils I chose to use on my family were the best standard available in the world. I wanted to know the owners and there vision, their morals and what they thought to be the most important aspect of quality and purity. I was willing to pay a little more to ensure a safe product for my family.

And this is when I discovered my all time favourite essential oils. Essential oils I still use today to make my own products free from synthetic chemicals. Products that are safe for my kids. We make perfume blends for all of us to wear, perfumes for the girls and cologne for the boys. We receive comments all the time about how wonderful we smell. We even get comments about how good our car smells. We live and breath the benefits of essential oils and they offer our health so much more than synthetic fragrances ever will.

I truly hope you ditch all the synthetic fragrances in your home. Read all your labels and throw anything in the bin that has ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ on the label.

We have some resources that may help you on your journey and you can access them here. Over time I am slowly collating all our recipes and learnings into simple resources for people to use.

I hope this inspires you to make change in your home too for the ongoing health and wellness of your beautiful family.

Tahlia Esler wellness advocate and notox educator

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