Many people suffer from sneezing, wheezing, rash, and headache from perfume, even when it is on someone else.
According to Dr. Heather Patisaul, a biologist at North Carolina State University, anything that gives perfume an odor is very likely going to cause allergic reactions in some people leading to the possibility of perfumes toxic.
Perfume or cologne soaked colleague or travel companion could be the cause of your runny nose.
“Look at your perfume bottle and read the ingredients. It reads like a chemistry book,” says Dr. Patisaul. You can get lost among all the benzyls and Ethyls.
However, it’s the ingredients listed as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ that worry public health researchers like Dr. Patisaul. According to her, those terms are a catchall for thousands of different ingredients.
Trade secrets in making perfumes
Due to trade-secret laws that shield perfume and cosmetic makers from revealing the explicit formulas of their products, Dr. Patisaul says that it is virtually impossible for to know which of the multiple ingredients a person is dabbing onto their neck or armpits.
The safe bet is that any scented cosmetic – be it a deodorant, body lotion, perfume, or cologne- will contain a group of petroleum-based chemicals called phthalates.
If you get the right perfume there is nothing to fear
According to Patisaul, phthalates are excellent for cosmetics because they make things smell well.
Phthalates keep all the different elements in the liquid suspended and evenly distributed.
The phthalates can be dangerous to human health. Some, namely one called Diethyl Phthalate (DEP), is shown to interfere with our hormones, including testosterone.
“There is evidence connecting phthalates to developmental disorders, especially among newborn boys,” Dr. Patisaul explains.
Multiple effects of toxic perfumes
DEP has also been linked to poor lung function, and numerous sperm issues, including low counts and reduced motility. Men, particularly adolescents who fumigate their still-developing bodies with aerosolized body sprays- could be in danger.
In women, researchers have linked phthalate exposure to problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, several complications that could include trouble conceiving, irregular periods, and hormonal imbalances that could lead to uneven hair growth and acne.
Recent research from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health also found that phthalates are linked to a low IQ.
According to the study, children exposed to in-utero to high concentrations of two specific phthalates had reductions in IQ scores at age seven.
Effect of toxic perfumes to kids
Children whose mothers had concentrations in the highest 25 percent also had IQ scores 6-8 points below those with mothers in the lowest 25 percent exposure, the researchers found.
Scientists are not yet sure how exactly phthalates could affect IQ, but they speculate that there could be several mechanisms at play, one of which could be that the chemicals act as endocrine disruptors of the mothers’ thyroid hormone- essential to a child’s brain development. People are urged to swap their fragranced products for unscented ones.
How to make sure you pick a non toxic perfume
By choosing trusted perfumes from established fragrance companies there is a better chance that you will be safe. It is also advisable to check Amazon perfume reviews to make sure that the cologne is in good standing with the clients. It is especially important to be careful with long lasting perfumes. Stick to popular brands like Calvin Klein or Estee perfume.
If you have to go for cheap perfumes go for oil based perfumes rather than alcohol and water perfumes.
You will be surprised at how good perfumes combinations from cheap perfume companies but established will work for you.
Consumers can also check the safety of some ingredients and products that contain those using resources such as Skin Deep, a product safety database.
If you are not willing to ditch your favorite scent, then scientists suggest that you go easy when applying it to your body.