Health Dangers of Fragrances

A fragrance is a pleasant scent that is found in perfumes, diapers, tissue papers, face wipes, toys, candles, and even garbage bags. It gives a more natural scent which is usually meant to suppress an offending odor. A fragrance contains different chemicals which may contribute to the growth of cancer cells in one’s body, thereby, causing one to have cancer. There are different types of fragrances and they are classified according to their levels of concentration.

Fragrance Concentrations


It is important to note that parfum is different from eau de parfum, and that parfum is not different from perfume, as parfum is the French term for perfume. Parfum contains a high concentration of essential oils which is responsible for fragrance. These essential oils are then mixed with fixatives and solvents such as alcohol and water. The concentration of the essential oil is between 20 and 40 percent, which is why they are long lasting, thereby, having to apply little. This fragrance can last for up to 8 hours when applied because of its high concentration. Persons who have sensitive skins would most likely be best suited to use parfum as it has less alcohol than other types of fragrance which do not make the skin dry.

Eau de Parfum

This fragrance has a concentration which is between 15 to 20 percent. Eau de parfum may last for about 4 to 5 hours and is not as expensive as parfum which has a higher fragrance concentration. This simply means it has a higher concentration of alcohol than parfum does. Be this as it may, regardless of its alcohol concentration which is more than the other fragrance types, people with sensitive skin may be able to use it.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de toilette has a fragrance concentration which is between 5 and 15 percent. This type of fragrance has a weak concentration than parfum which can also be called pure perfume, which means its alcohol concentration is quite high. One may apply eau de toilette fragrance in the skin immediately after bathing or shaving. It may last for up to 3 hours and is usually referred to as a perfume that should be worn during the day.

Eau de Cologne

Eau de cologne is a more common type of fragrance which is between 2 and 4 percent. It is common and more affordable than parfum, eau de parfum and eau de toilette, and it lasts for about 2 hours only. One needs to use to use a generous amount of it so it stays for as long as possible.

Eau Fraiche

Eau fraiche has the lowest fragrance concentration which is between 1 and 3 percent. The essential oils used in this type of fragrance is low, but in this case, it does not contain high amounts of alcohol. It has a higher concentration of water than it does alcohol and essential oil. Eau fraiche does not last long on the skin; it may, however, last for about an hour or so.

Side Effects of Fragrances

Fragrances contain phthalate which is one of the chemicals that may be harmful to the human body. Other ingredients such as toluene, aldehyde, and chemical got from petroleum are terrible when they are found in fragrances to be used in the skin. Phthalate is a solvent which makes fragrances last longer; it is also present in body lotion as it aids skin penetration. Phthalates are not safe because they are endocrine disruptors which disrupt the endocrine body system. Our thyroid, pituitary gland, adrenals, and sex hormones are parts of the endocrine system and phthalates can disrupt this system, thereby, increasing the risk of birth defects, obesity, infertility, autoimmune diseases, autism, ADHD from exposure in the womb and cancer, especially breast cancer. The other ingredients mentioned earlier which are aldehyde, toluene, and chemicals got from petroleum can also cause health problems, and they are usually present in fragrances. Aldehyde can cause one to have respiratory problems if its concentration level is high in a fragrance. Toluene can cause one to have developmental and reproductive toxicity, irritation and organ system toxicity. Toluene can be referred to as a neurotoxin which can cause one to have damaged lungs, liver, kidneys, heart and central nervous system. It can also cause one to have severe headaches, loss of muscle control, memory loss, impaired vision, hearing, and speech, brain damage and even death. Some people are naturally allergic to fragrances, so they can easily irritate the nostrils of people who are sensitive to them. Asthmatic patients may also be unable to tolerate fragrances.

Here are Two Types of Allergy Symptoms

Skin Allergy Symptoms

dry skin

Some people may have skin allergic reactions to fragrances. They may experience skin irritations such as itchy skin, red rash, contact dermatitis (eczema), or skin inflammation. Once one experiences these symptoms, it is advisable to discontinue the usage of the fragrance and seek immediate medical attention. Affected persons should also endeavor to avoid the fragrance in question in order to avoid a recurrence of the symptoms.

Respiratory and Eye Allergy Symptoms

Some persons who are sensitive to fragrance may experience headaches, wheezing, irritations in the chest, respiratory problems, a flare in asthma symptoms, runny and stuffy nose and sneezing. Persons who manifest these symptoms are advised to stay away from products that contain fragrance as it may trigger these symptoms. Persons with respiratory allergy symptoms can take a nasal antihistamine and nasal corticosteroid medications to reduce and control their symptoms.

How to Prevent Fragrance Toxicity

Always Read Labels Properly

It is advisable to read the labels of products properly before purchase. Look out for products that contain aldehyde and phthalate, as they have the capability to wreck a lot of havoc in the endocrine system. Some manufacturers mislead their customers by labeling their products ‘fragrance-free’ when in actual fact it contains synthetic fragrance. One has to be careful, observant and inquisitive when buying products so as to avoid buying products that have fragrance in them.

Return Products that Contain Fragrance

If one already bought products that contain fragrance, one can return these items and opt for products that are truly fragrance-free. Fragrance-free products do not contain toxic chemicals that may most likely cause harm to the human body.

Make your own Products

One may make these products at home for self-use instead of buying products that may have been tainted with toxic chemicals. The internet has made life really easy, as you can find recipes to virtually everything online. It is, however, key to make use of ingredients that do not contain fragrance or toxic chemicals.

Avoid the Use of Air Fresheners

Fragrances are not limited to perfumes. There are a lot of products that contain fragrance which in turn contains harmful chemicals. Diapers, tissue papers, baby wipes, air fresheners, antiseptic soaps, and even scented candles contain fragrance. So, one can ditch the brands that contain fragrance and use the brands that are fragrance-free.

Bottom Line

Do not be deceived by how nice fragrance smells, it smells nice but hurts the body in the process. Using fragrance-free products would do the body more good than harm. If one experiences any symptom of fragrance sensitivity after using a product, it is advisable to stop using such product and seek medical attention as soon as one can.