“Fragrance” is a generic term found on the labels of the personal care products we use day in and day out: Products like shampoo, deodorant, lotion, and in our laundry detergent, dish soap, and makeup. But the term isn’t as innocuous as it seems.
Each of these products may have a different scent, yet the labels simply indicate one descriptor: Fragrance. While companies are required by law to list the ingredients that make up their products, the word “Fragrance” is considered a trade secret, so companies aren’t legally bound to disclose what chemicals make up said scent. Often times, it can be dozens and even hundreds of chemicals. Consumers are left not knowing what hazards might be found in their personal care products.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “a rose may be a rose. But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer.”
A 2010 study done by EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that the average product tested contained around 14 secret chemicals that were not listed on the label! Included in these chemicals are substances known to disrupt hormones, to cause allergic reactions, and to have no safety testing to assess if they are even safe to include in personal care products!
Until laws to regulate the safety of our personal care products can be changed, we recommend that everyone avoid products with “fragrance” or “perfume” listed on the label. Even if that particular product might not be dangerous, because there’s no way to know what that term actually might be hiding, it’s better to be safe and just avoid such products all together. Thankfully there are a lot of excellent options in safe skin care that provide choices!