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The Toxic Effects of Perfume

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The Toxic Effects of Perfume

If you’ve walked through a department store lately, you may have overwhelmed by the perfume section.  Whether you are obsessed with Obsession, a believer in Believe, or consumed by L’Air du Temps, the smell of perfumes and colognes can be overwhelming.  The toxic effects of fragrances can also be overwhelming.

There are over 500 potential chemicals that can be used under the single name “fragrance” found on the label of many products, not just perfumes and colognes.  Fragrances are found in “air fresheners,” room deodorizers, cosmetics, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, candles, and many other places.  Manufacturers are not required to list ingredients on the labels of these products, nor do they have to reveal the specific ingredients that qualify as “fragrance” to regulating authorities because they are protected as trade secrets.

Some of the most common chemicals in perfumes are ethanol, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, a-pinene, acetone, benzyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, linalool, a-terpinene, methylene chloride, styrene oxide, dimenthyl sulphate, a-terpineol, camphor, and limonene.  Some of these chemicals cause irritability, mental vagueness, muscle pain, asthma, bloating, joint aches, sinus pain, fatigue, sore throat, eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, laryngitis, headaches, dizziness, swollen lymph nodes, spikes in blood pressure, coughing, and burning or itching skin irritations.

And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Acetaldehyde is a probable human carcinogen.  In animal studies, it crosses the placenta to a fetus.  The chemical industry’s own Toxic Data Safety Sheets list headaches, tremors, convulsions, and even death as a possible effect of exposure to acetonitrile, another common fragrance ingredient.  In animal studies, styrene oxide causes depression.  Toluene (also known as methyl benzene) is a well established neurotoxin that can cause loss of muscle control, brain damage, headaches, memory loss, and problems with speech, hearing, and vision.  Musk tetralin (AETT) has been shown to cause brain cell and spinal cord degeneration.

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Read more: Bath & Shower, Beauty, Conscious Consumer, Eco-friendly tips, Hair Care, Health, Health & Safety, Home, Make-Up, Michelle Schoffro Cook, Skin Care, Smart Shopping, , , , , , ,

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Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and board-certified doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and her new book The Probiotic Promise. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World's Healthiest News at to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.


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8:33PM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

Great article.

6:16AM PDT on Aug 5, 2012

really scary, thank you for sharing.

8:15PM PDT on May 23, 2012

Thanks for sharing, found article very informative.

10:50AM PDT on May 22, 2012

I have to avoid the cleaning products aisle in the grocery store, cannot breathe in a mall, and now shop in the health food stores or on line for natural products. Only a few really natural companies left that make necessities. Aubrey's Organics, Dr Bronner's, and Bi-O-Kleen are the only ones who have resisted being bought out by the big corporations. Hope they continue.

3:40AM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Walking through a department store is now for me a death sentence. I cannot breath, my eyes are starting to itch, follow by a huge migraine that takes days to go away. I hate this industry! What is the point to sacrifice animals in labs to produce a product that still will affect our health? Such a waste of lives, poor creatures :(

7:45PM PST on Jan 12, 2012

I am actually allergic to cologne and perfume. I stop breathing. Anything scented has been banned which lead to me using better products anyway.

11:03AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Thanks for sharing the info!

5:09AM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

Scary to think how long I've been wearing perfumes and never realized they were harmful.

4:23AM PDT on Jul 3, 2011

good to know

8:41PM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

I shared this on my Facebook page. I hope more people will get the message that this stuff is toxic.

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