The Lowdown On Cosmetic Fragrances- Spring Clean Your Scents

The Lowdown On Cosmetic Fragrances- Spring Clean Your Scents

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past 5 or so years, you have probably heard a whole lot of hoopla about cosmetic fragrances and the potential danger they pose to your skin and your health. But, come on! Are fragrances really that bad? After all, they are usually listed as the last ingredient on the product label, meaning there isn’t even that much in there to cause any real damage, right? Well, as usual, I’m going to bless you with the facts and you can come to your own conclusions Beauty.


The Lowdown On Fragrances:

When we talk about fragrances, at least the ones that are harmful, we’re talking about those that are vaguely listed on the ingredient label as, well, “Fragrance “and sometimes as “Perfume/Parfum. Nothing more, nothing less. Just “Fragrance”.

The Low-LOW On Fragrances:

The only thing that makes this almost insanely laughable is that the average commercial “Fragrance” can me comprised of up to 3,100 stock chemicals! 3,100!!!!!

None of which need to be listed out individually -  by the way.

This wasn't always the norm. Perfumes and cosmetic fragrances used to be made from natural ingredients like flowers and herbs. However, Perfume formulations changed sometime around the late 70s and early 80s. Today, they are approximately 95-100% synthetic (man-made). Using crude oil or turpentine oil as the base material, synthetics are usually derived from chemical reactions.

So that Black Cherry Currant fragrance you got from the $5.00 bin at your favorite bath and body spot, very likely contains:

1.     ACETONE (in cologne, dishwashing liquid, and detergent, nail enamel remover)

On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. "Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throat; dizziness, nausea, incoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, and, in severe exposures, coma." "Acts primarily as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant."

2.     BENZALDEHYDE (in perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent)

Narcotic. Sensitizer. "Local anesthetic, CNS depressant"… "irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain." "May cause kidney damage." "Do not use with contact lenses."

3.     BENZYL ACETATE (in perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants)

Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer); "From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In mice: hyper-anemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."

4.     BENZYL ALCOHOL (in perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, Vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener) "irritating to the upper respiratory tract" …"headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."

5.     ETHANOL (in perfume, hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover)

On EPA Hazardous Waste list; symptoms: "…fatigue; irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations…" "Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to that characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor…" Causes CNS disorder.

6.     ETHYL ACETATE (in: after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid)

Narcotic. On EPA Hazardous Waste list; "…irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract" …"may cause a headache and narcosis (stupor)" …"defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking" …"may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys" "Wash thoroughly after handling."

7.     LIMONENE (in perfume, cologne, disinfectant spray, bar soap, shaving cream, deodorants, nail color and remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, air fresheners, after shave, bleach, paint and varnish remover)

Carcinogenic. "Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer." "Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, …applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor."

8.     LINALOOL (in perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant)

Narcotic. …" respiratory disturbances" …"Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression …development of respiratory disturbances leading to death." …"depressed frog-heart activity." Causes CNS disorder.

9.     METHYLENE CHLORIDE (in shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover)

Banned by the FDA in 1988! No enforcement possible due to trade secret laws protecting chemical fragrance industry. On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. "Carcinogenic" …"Absorbed, stored in body fat, it metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood." "Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, tingling in the limbs." Causes CNS disorder.

10.  a-PINENE (in bar and liquid soap, cologne, perfume, shaving cream, deodorants, dishwashing liquid, air freshener) Sensitizer (damaging to the immune system).

11.  g-TERPINENE (in cologne, perfume, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, air freshener) "Causes asthma and CNS disorders."

12.  a-TERPINEOL (in perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, bleach powder, laundry bleach, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, Vaseline lotion, cologne, soap, hairspray, after shave, roll-on deodorant) "highly irritating to mucous membranes" …"Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema." Can also cause "excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache." "Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact."


Or any number of other “secret” chemical ingredients. I mean, come on! How is this okay in our 2017 industry standards? I place a huge eye roll next to this crap! This isn’t just lowdown; it’s low-low down.

A Brighter Future In Fragrances:


On a brighter note, there are some companies, (proud to say The Butter Bar Skincare is one of them) who choose to still use and create their fragrances naturally and through longer, but better processes! What are these lovely, safer, and cleaner fragrances listed as you might ask? Of course, I’m gon’ tell ya! Here they go:

• Essential Oils-  A pure, natural, highly aromatic fluid obtained by the steam distilling natural plant material. Essential oils are highly concentrated and contain natural chemical and aromatic constituents found in the original plant. Because of their natural composition, essential oils are not only aromatic but also offer many therapeutic benefits, depending on the composition of the particular botanical.

•  Resinoids - A solid or semisolid organic substance exuded by plants or by insects feeding on plants.

•  Florasols- With Florasols, the extraction of essential oils occurs at or below room temperature, so degradation through high-temperature extremes does not occur. The essential oils are mostly pure and contain little to no foreign substances.

•  Hydrosols or Floral Waters -  Are the waters which are separated from essential oils during the distillation process. Also known as "floral waters," "flower waters" or "hydrolats."  Hydrosols are aromatic, containing many water-soluble fragrant materials found in the plants they are derived from.

• Natural Fragrance/Flavor Extracts - Used by blending Essential oils, hydrosols, and other extracts together to either in water or oil base to create a desired fragrance/flavor blend.

While the process of extracting natural fragrances and scents is a more complicated than stirring chemicals up in a lab, by partnering with great expert suppliers of these natural alternatives, any customer-loving company can “go green” and still have many fragrance options to offer their Beauties! I for one think it should be the standard for all products that are meant to be put on our skin.

Now that you have the facts, you know it is up to you. I encourage you to research and decide what you are comfortable with using in your day-to-day life. As for me and my house, we will stay chemical-free as much as humanly possible! If you feel me, leave a comment and make sure you're also following us on Instagram, so you can catch all the quick tips I deliver each day!

The Flawless Owner/Founder & CEO of The Butter Bar Skincare

Kimberly-Chloe Wilson



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