How and When Did Fragrance Ingredients Go Wrong?
What Does “Fragrance” Mean in Ingredients?
The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
The ingredient or mixture of ingredients acting as a masking agent, i.e., covering the undesirable off-odor of a product without adding a discernable odor to it, may be declared by their individual name(s) or as "fragrance" (in lieu of a better designation). A masking agent present in a product at an insignificant level may be considered an incidental ingredient under § 701.3(1)(2)(iii) in which case it need not be declared on the label. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, as amended
Even if you can’t specifically identify which synthetic ingredients are used to formulate the products you use, the “Not So Sexy Report” published in May 2010 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics provides a list of commonly found toxic chemicals found in fragrance compounds. This list is not exhaustive, but here are some key chemicals:
- Phthalates: Chemical plasticizers which research has shown to be potential reproductive toxicants and possible human carcinogens.
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): A preservative and stabilizer. Two studies have linked BHT with adverse effects on the thyroid.
- Styrene: A known carcinogen found by the IFRA to be used in fragrance.
- Ethyl acetate: A flammable liquid with links to skin, eye, ear, and throat irritation.
- Methylene chloride: An industrial solvent with links to mammary gland tumors in experimental animal studies and possible occupational carcinogen.
what can you do?
The loopholes of labeling make it difficult to be sure of what you are buying. However, if you practice smelling a variety of products, you will eventually be able to distinguish natural smells from chemical-based smells very quickly (e.g., if it smells like a bag of skittles, then…).
If a product does not disclose its ingredients on the label, don't buy it! There is always a reason for this, and generally it is because the product is not safe.
What is North Authentic Doing About it?
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