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Breaking the Bottle: The Dangers of Perfume

Breaking the Bottle: The Dangers of Perfume

I’ve been a lover of perfume since I was a small child. I loved to examine my mom’s collection of pretty perfume bottles, neatly arranged on top of her dresser. Like the scarves in her closet, they were lovely and mysterious. When I was old enough, my mother would spritz my wrist with whatever scent she was wearing at the time. Then, like many girls of my generation, I got my very own perfume: Love’s Baby Soft. Oh, how I loved to spray myself with that sweet scent.

That was then. Today, I wouldn’t dare use any of those commercially made perfumes. You pick your poison and I’ve decided that perfume ain’t the one for me. One of the tougher lessons I’ve learned since becoming aware of the dangers of personal care products is that most perfumes contain chemical toxins I don’t want on or anywhere near my body. Worst of all: you don’t really know what those toxins are because of old laws protecting perfume makers from revealing their trade secrets. And this applies to all products, not only perfumes. When you see the word “fragrance” on a label, you’re being hoodwinked. “Fragrance” can include numerous chemicals that are not good for you (or the environment).

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics just released a report on a study of the health risks of fragrance: “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance.” Put simply: the news stinks. Perfume lovers who are unaware of what’s in their bottles will have a hard time with the findings–just as I was shocked and more than a little saddened when I consulted the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website a few years ago to learn about what’s found in personal care products. How bad can a little perfume be, right? Wrong–unless you’re okay with using chemicals classified as hormone disruptors that can increase your risk of cancer, or harm a developing fetus, or contribute to thyroid and other problems. It’s even worse when you consider how many other products we use regularly and how many other environmental toxins we’re exposed to. It’s black and white for me: if I know it could be bad for me, I’m not gonna use it.

After my enlightenment a few years ago–feeling like I was a graduate of the beauty school of hard knocks–I was faced with my own dresser of pretty perfume bottles I had collected over the years. They had to go. But what I discovered was more delightful than I could have imagined: there are pure and safe and stunningly beautiful perfumes being made that are far superior to the ones I had used. Now, I am a lover of perfumes made from pure essential oils–nothing artificial, nothing toxic. My dresser is now filled with small bottles of non-toxic oils and perfume blends I’ve found to satisfy my love of scent without sacrificing my well-being. You can begin your own search by finding a list of safe makers of perfume and other personal care products on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics site and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.


Urge your Senators to co-sponsor and strengthen the Safe Chemicals Act.

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photo credit: Stef McDonald

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8:02PM PDT on May 14, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

2:11AM PST on Dec 27, 2012

Way to spread information and credit a group of LOBBYISTS with no scientific background. Its just another way to take advantage of those ignorant of basic science.

2:10AM PST on Dec 27, 2012

If you have a chemical free perfume you seriously have a bottle full of air but oh wait the bottle is made of chemicals so literally nothing. educate yourselves people. natural does not always mean better or safe.

2:08AM PST on Dec 27, 2012

everything i meant

2:07AM PST on Dec 27, 2012

Every is a chemical you idiot even things that are natural. Poison ivy is natural, cyanide is natural, death is a natural process, shit is natural, everything once came from nature and shall return...

6:02AM PDT on Oct 26, 2010


10:45AM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

I cannot believe how many people know that their fragrance will/ is making others ill and continue to wear it in public, at work, etc.

How inconsiderate !

Most places have a " No Scents" rule directed toward such persons.....

9:02PM PDT on Oct 24, 2010

Thanks for this...

1:29PM PDT on Oct 23, 2010

Thank you.

1:27PM PDT on Oct 21, 2010

Thanks for posting.

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