Toxic Fragrances versus Organics and Aromatherapy

While some devotees of cologne and perfume like their fragrances long-lasting, they may be unaware that it is phthalates – causing the disagreeable odor at the nail shop – that act as a perfume fixative, retaining the smell for 24 hours and sometimes much longer, even after clothing has been laundered in a washing machine or professionally cleaned. In fact, these same chemicals permeate the fragrance in laundry detergent, which is why it doesn’t wash away in the rinse cycle. If you find that you cannot seem to wash off fragrance from laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoos, cologne, pump soap, dishwashing liquid, or cleaning products, you might want to change brands because you could be compromising your health. The chemicals in fabric softener sheets like Bounce are left embedded in clothing. They shorten the life of sheets and clothes, and the substance rubs off on your skin, potentially causing skin irritation and respiratory problems.

Also be aware that the switch from one heavily advertised brand to another is not likely to help.

How to Buy Safe Cleansers and Cosmetics that Enhance your Health

Buying products designated “unscented” eliminates the toxics in synthetic fragrances, but if they are commercial brands they will likely contain toxic chemicals elsewhere in their ingredients, many of which according to US labeling laws are not required to be listed.

Natural botanicals and pure essential oils, by contrast, have therapeutic properties and have been used – literally for thousands of years – for their health-conferring benefits as well as for beauty and enjoyment. The safest approach to shopping for personal care items and household products is to buy from companies that have never used toxic ingredients. These include the following:

100% Organic products which by legal definition preclude use of toxic processing or ingredients

Cosmetic companies like Aubrey that never test their products on lab animals because there is no need, as the ingredients are all known to be safe

Products containing scents naturally derived from botanicals like coconut oil or essential oils

“Green” companies like Method whose mission is to produce quality products that do not harm the environment

Cosmetics made using 100% pure, distilled essential oils by genuine aromatherapy companies

Reputable aromatherapeutic products are available in most health food stores as well as online. Trader Joe’s does a good job of providing unscented and natural-scented soaps, shampoos, and laundry detergent as well as organic produce and pet food. This does not apply to all TJ brands, however; read the labels to be sure of what you’re getting.

Don’t be fooled by heavily advertised brands like Clairol Herbal Essences, a shampoo that has co-opted two of the most holistic-sounding words in its very name, yet is highly toxic. If a product is advertised on television, the ad budget has compromised the quality of the product. It means the company’s priority is on marketing, promotion, and hype.

Skin creams, makeup, shampoos, or colognes purporting to be “natural” may not be – not if the single word fragrance is listed in the ingredients. Sadly for the unsuspecting public, the word fragrance is legally defined as a scent produced synthetically in a laboratory, usually through petroleum-based chemistry.

Topical preparations are absorbed systemically through the skin, in some cases more efficiently than if they were consumed orally. For this reason, it’s a good idea to avoid putting anything on your skin that you wouldn’t consider safe to eat.