By Joey Papa on January 26, 2012

Your favorite perfume or cologne is potentially dangerous to you and others around you.

Hidden Dangers of Fragrance

I remember when I was in junior high and got my first bottle of cologne. I thought I was the man. I sprayed it everywhere: on my skin, my clothes and my hair. I wanted to make sure I smelled good that day at school. Little did I know that I was spraying harmful chemicals all over my body.

For many, it’s no mystery that perfumes, colognes and fragrances are harmful. People can suffer from migraines and asthma or feel nauseated when someone walks in the room wearing perfume. This is due to the fact that nearly 95% of all fragrances are made from synthetic chemicals that can have damaging effects. If you experience any adverse reactions from a particular fragrance, discontinue use of it and refrain from being around people who wear that fragrance.

The Environmental Working Group found some surprising results after conducting a study specifically on fragrances, colognes and perfumes. Here’s what they found:

  • 16% of the products they reviewed contained ingredients that may cause cancer.
  • 5% may contain harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems.
  • 18% contained penetration enhancers that increase exposures to carcinogens and other ingredients of concern.
  • 98% of products contained ingredients not assessed for safety in cosmetics or with insufficient data.
  • 76% contained ingredients that are allergens.
  • 13% of products posed other potential health concerns.

People suffering from an allergic reaction to the chemicals found in a fragrance will experience a stuffy nose, excessive sneezing, headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, tingling in the lips or arms and skin reactions. Here’s a list of the most common ingredients and the effects they can have, according to sixwise.com:

Butylated hydroxytoluene: cancer, allergies and other health concerns

Propylene glycol: penetration enhancer, allergies and other health concerns

Methylparaben: allergies and other health concerns

Tetrasodium EDTA: penetration enhancer, allergies and other health concerns

Propylparaben: allergies and other health concerns

PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate: harmful impurities, penetration enhancer, allergies and other health concerns

Diazolidinyl urea: harmful impurities, allergies and other health concerns

Tocopheryl acetate: harmful impurities, allergies and other health concerns

Octyl methoxycinnamate: penetration enhancer, allergies and other health concerns

Octyl salicylate: penetration enhancer, allergies and other health concerns

If you want to wear fragrance that’s all natural and by far cheaper than most designer fragrances, think about essential oils. Some of the most popular essential oils used as a cologne or perfume are patchouli, lavender and rosemary. Most come in a small bottle that will last almost a year when you use a drop or two on a daily basis. Buy body products that are free of synthetic fragrances or any fragrance at all to avoid harmful or allergic effects.

About the author

Joey Papa is a freelance writer in Tampa, FL, where he lives with his wife and son and daughter. Writing is more than a job for Joey; it's a way to express his passion and convictions through the written word.

His favorite subjects to write about are health and wellness, travel and creative writing.


Learn more about Joey Papa

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