Although many of us love sporting signature colognes to smell unique, did you know that they could be endangering your health? The toxic ingredients often found in colognes and brand-name fragrances may not only hinder your fight or recovery from cancer, but can actually cause cancer, as well.
A recent article elaborated that many health advocates believe colognes and other scented products contain toxic chemicals (like phthalates, shown to accumulate in human organs) that affect healthy-hormone function. Furthermore, experts continue to find evidence that other compounds in fragrance formulas may affect immunity, the nervous system, or play a role in cancer and other health problems.
Colognes and perfumes become dangerous because their ingredients are created from petrochemicals (as many as 95%), which put volatile organic compounds (VOCS) into the air. VOCS are typically found in toxic products like paint strippers or dry-cleaning chemicals, to which the public is strongly advised to limit their exposure. (We urge you to look for a local “organic cleaners” which do not use these chemicals.) If the fear of well-known toxins isn’t enough to stop your cologne habit, a study conducted by an industry lab found that a top designer’s cologne contained 41 ingredients which were “toxic to the skin, respiratory tract, nervous and reproductive systems, and [in some cases] known to be carcinogens.”
Why is the government doing nothing to address this growing concern? According to the author David Lawrence Dewey, “Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets. This means companies do not have to tell anyone, including the FDA, what is in their formulas. Individual ingredients that make up the fragrance portion on the formula only have to be listed as Fragrance (which could contain over a hundred chemicals).” He continues to explain that because there is little monitoring of the fragrance ingredients, even the fragrance industry has volunteered not to use certain chemicals (like Dioxane or Musk Ambrette) in favorite formulas.
How can you avoid toxic chemicals in your cologne and keep yourself safe? Opt for chemical-free products that have plant-based scents- which, by the way, can also benefit you physiologically. However, note that just because a brand is advertising flower or plant ingredients doesn’t mean the true source of the fragrance is non-toxic. Always read labels. There are many brands (like Intelligent Nutrients) made with certified-organic ingredients that are free of chemicals. We love Nurture for its calming properties and Restore to help rejuvenate and renew during treatment. EcoEssentials also offers nice aromas without the synthetics. You can even choose all-natural essential oils from certified organic companies like Mountain Rose Herbs to create a chemical-free scent. (Try mixing aromas like grapefruit, lemongrass and orange to uplift-or lavender and jasmine to relax-with a carrier oil such as jojoba). To check the safety of your favorite scents, please go to the Cosmetics Database or click here for our top 21 ingredients to avoid.
* Do you think that common colognes and perfumes pose a toxic risk to cancer patients? Want to share an alternative tip for smelling good, without endangering your health? Please let us know!