Have you ever sprayed so much perfume on or smelled someone else's so intensely, you could taste it at the back of your throat?
The fragrances we use, whether through spraying them into the air, onto our clothes, or directly onto our skin, can affect us more than simply adding a pleasant scent. It turns out that the cosmetics we use are not as harmless as we assume they are.
According to an article on Conscious Life News, several of the fragrances and deodorants that we use in our every day lives are harmful and almost as toxic as second-hand smoking. The fragrances that are released in the air through the use of fragrance, shampoo, or air fresheners, carry with them toxins that can be absorbed through the nose, lungs, and skin.
Phthalates is the name of the chemical that is found in most cosmetic and plastic products. In an article that Larry West wrote for Thought Co., he reports "manufacturers use phthalates because they cling to the skin and nails to give perfumes, hair gels and nail polishes more staying power." Of course no one wants to buy a perfume that only lasts five minutes after you've put it on, but there are harmful effects to the chemicals used in perfumes that make the scent last longer.
Much like aluminium in anti-perspirant.
"Phthalates are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs. What does this mean? When absorbed by the body, they act as estrogens that interfere with metabolism and normal hormonal function," writes Daman Karu in a 2017 article. A particular kind of phthalate, diethyl phthlalate, is known to be an eye, skin and respiratory tract irritant, a hormone distruptor, and is linked to nervous system damage.
But phthlates are just one of the numerous ingredients in fragrances that could negatively affect your health. Based on this Conscious Life News article, there are over 3000 chemicals under the broad terms "fragrance" and "parfum" on the ingredients list.
Similarly to the effects of smoking and being exposed to second-hand smoke, several of the chemicals found in your cosmetics can cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, while triggering or worsening asthma over long periods of time and from over-exposure.
Here's how to limit your exposure to harmful fragrances:
You obviously can't ask the woman sitting next to you on the bus to use less perfume when she leaves the house, but you can make a difference in how much of the toxic chemicals you are exposed to in your own home.
- Ventilate the room where you're using your perfume, body spray, or hair spray. If the perfume is strong enough, you can go outside and spray it onto your clothes (not your skin) and avoid inhaling it in a confined room.
- Avoid using fragrances that have parfum, phthlate, or fragrance on the ingredients list.
- Where you can, use natural, organic products. Products that contain essential oils such as sandalwood are recommended, especially if they are listed as the ingredients on fragrance bottles.
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