Avoid “Fragrance” in your Personal Care Products
EWG lists synthetic fragrances as “harmful”
It’s pretty common today to find “fragrance” listed in the ingredient lists of most personal care and deodorants on the market today, even those that claim they are ‘natural’ and clean. Legally, The word fragrance is often used to disguise complex mixtures of upwards of hundreds of chemicals. It is notably one of the major loopholes in the federal laws of the FDA. However, this “fragrance” alone is linked to various studies that have found evidence for the ingredient to be linked to an abundance of health problems like allergies, skin reactions, endocrine/hormone disruption, and possibly even birth defects (EWG, 2007). The FDA does not systematically review the safety of fragrances, rather, the fragrance industry is responsible for reviewing itself which means that fragrance is not regulated, leaving us little knowledge as to how dangerous the chemicals in fragrances can be, despite their widespread usage.
The Environmental Working Group was founded in 1933 in efforts to reform broken chemical safety and agricultural laws. The nonprofit group has been pushing industries to adopt better standards and work hard to advocate against harmful chemicals in our everyday lives. The EWG works by educating consumers with scientific evidence and knowledge on how to consume safer products (EWG, 2022). By highlighting outdated legislation, harmful agricultural practices, and various industry loopholes, the EWG helps us better understand what products can potentially risk our own health in addition to the health of the environment.
One EWG study detected 16 chemicals in blood and urine samples in teen girls (EWG, 2008). They also found that teen girls use upwards to 17 different personal care products a day and the average woman uses nearly 12 personal care products daily. That is a lot of products with fragrance - increasing these women and teens exposure to chemicals with every usage!
Some of the chemicals in “fragrance” are phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks. Phthalates are commonly used as a plasticizing ingredient. Studies have linked the ingredient to birth defects. Furthermore, laboratory tests have found the ingredient to display significant developmental toxicity, and damage to adult reproductive, adrenal, liver, and kidney organs (EWG, 2008). Despite its potential dangers, the EWG has found nearly 54 name-brand products to contain the ingredient, with none of them listing phthalate on the label. Musks have been linked to negatively affect hormone systems, and the European Union has banned certain usages of the ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. In the US, however, all musk chemicals are unregulated.
We at Cleo+Coco never use “fragrance”. Our delicious scent profiles come from carefully chosen plant extracts and oils - it is amazing what you can find in nature!
One reason why other personal care brands use synthetic fragrance in their products is because they are significantly cheaper than real plant extracts and oils. We as a brand work hard to keep our prices competitive, while using the highest quality ingredients - because your health and the health of your children matters to us a lot more than a few percentage points in margin. Choosing to purchase Cleo+Coco personal care products for yourself is a strong statement against synthetic ‘fragrance’ and will give more power to brands that care about safety first, like Cleo+Coco does.
Sources for further reading:
“Ask EWG: What is "fragrance"?”Environmental Working Group. 6 December 2007. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/ask-ewg-what-fragrance
“Our Mission”, Environmental Working Group, 2022. https://www.ewg.org/who-we-are/our-mission
“Scented Secrets.” Environmental Working Group, 12 February 2007, www.ewg.org/research/scented-secrets
Steinemann A, 2016. Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions. Air quality, atmosphere, & health, 9(8), 861–866. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-016-0442-z
“Teen Girls' Body Burden of Hormone-Altering Cosmetics Chemicals.” Environmental Working Group, 24 September 2008, www.ewg.org/research/teen-girls-body-burden-hormone-altering-cosmetics-chemicals