Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Posts Tagged ‘perfume’

Dolce & Gabbana’s Baby Perfume

“The Baby Smell.”  Did you just read those three words and immediately smell that one of a kind sweet scent you just can’t help but smile at? To my nose, it’s a blend of baby formula, Johnson & Johnson soap, clean laundry, and that indescribable, undefinable, ‘baby’ ingredient that no one has ever been able to pinpoint or recreate.

Sadly, the perfumers over at Dolce & Gabbana don’t quite see eye-to-eye with me on this one. The fashion house has launched a new fragrance designed for babies.

Upon reading this headline, I was quickly struck with the sad realization that our society’s need to quicken up the growing up process is now trying to rid infants of their natural, innocent smell.  Where will it end?

During pregnancy, expectant mothers go to great lengths to alter their routines in order to ensure their child’s development will not be hindered or negatively impacted by environmental toxins. They stop eating certain foods, drinking certain drinks, partaking in certain activities (even hair dying!) all in the name of their baby’s wellbeing. Way to go, moms.

If new moms go to such great lengths to secure a ‘toxin free’ environment for their child, doesn’t it seem ironic to sell them a spritz-able, scented, chemical cocktail for their newborn’s skin? Months of hard work and strong willpower down the drain with one pump of the nozzle on this aromatic mist.

The reality is, companies like Dolce & Gabbana are banking on a lack of consumer knowledge about their products and about environmental toxins in general.

Here come the facts:

  • 95% of the ‘fragrant’ elements of perfume are petroleum chemicals[i], many of which have been classified as neurotoxins. They cause harmful effects on the brain and nervous systems due to a person’s prolonged exposure[ii]. Some of these have even been labeled ‘toxic waste’ by the EPA.
  • Perfume companies are not, by law, forced to disclose ingredients to their consumers or the public at large, instead calling them ‘trade secrets’.  While they make a profit off of their ‘super secret formula’, we get lung disease, depression, skin rashes, central nervous system disorders, chest tightness, fatigue, asthma, and pollution of our bloodstream[iii][iv].
  • When tested on pregnant rats, the chemicals in perfume have been linked to the future infertility of the mother, and underdevelopment by way of undescended testes in the male children[v].

Sadly enough, however, ‘baby perfumes’ aren’t the only danger new parents should avoid.  Check out Forbes Magazine list of known carcinogens that have been found plaguing our baby products.

There has even been formaldehyde found in Johnson & Johnson baby soap.  

While it seems like the fight for toxin-free baby products may be a tad overwhelming,  please know that we as consumers have the ability to stop even more harmful products from making their way onto the market.

Tell Dolce & Gabbana  you don’t want their synthetic chemicals all over your baby’s skin by signing the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' petition :

Posted by on February 12th, 2013 1 Comment

Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance

A while back, I did a post on my arch-nemesis –the perfume aisle. I couldn’t figure out why just the act of walking through it was giving me migraines, making me sneeze, and leaving me feeling miserable.

NotSoSexy_coverIn their new report, “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance,” the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reveals exactly why fragrances can and do make people sick—they are filled with hidden, hazardous chemicals.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned tests of 17 fragranced products at an independent laboratory. The  Environmental Working Group assessed data from the tests and the product labels.  The products that were tested -- including celebrity brands J Lo Glow and Britney Spears’ Curious, and colognes Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce and Old Spice – contained multiple allergens and hormone disruptors, and many secret chemicals not listed on labels.

On average, these 17 products contained:

  • 14 secret chemicals not listed on labels due to a major loophole in federal law that allows companies to claim fragrances as trade secrets.
  • 10 sensitizing chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions including headaches, wheezing, asthma, chest tightening and contact dermatitis such as skin rashes.
  • 4 hormone disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and early puberty.        

People are unknowingly exposed to hazardous chemicals that are hidden in their favorite perfumes, colognes and body sprays—chemicals that are then absorbed into people’s bodies. Even babies, our most vulnerable population, have these chemicals in their blood at birth. This is unacceptable.

Here’s how you can help change this:

  1. Stand up and tell legislators we need safer products and smarter laws to protect us from toxic chemicals in personal care products: Sign the petition to Congress to voice your support!
  2. Sign on to the letter to the celebrities whose fragrances were tested –ask them to show their true leadership by taking a stand against toxic chemicals in personal care products, beginning with their own fragrance lines.
  3. You can also contact other cosmetics companies to ask them to disclose their fragrance ingredients. We've put together talking points to get you started.
  4. Support companies that fully disclose ingredients in their products.
  5. Use the Skin Deep advanced search to find products that do not include fragrance. Read ingredient labels, because even products advertised as “fragrance-free” may contain a masking fragrance.  Remember, less is better: If you are very attached to your fragrance, consider eliminating other fragranced products from your routine, and using fragrance less often.

Everyone has the right to know what’s in the products they spray on their bodies and lather on their skin. Please show your support by standing up to the chemical industry today.

Posted by on May 12th, 2010 2 Comments

Fragrances Stink–Especially While Pregnant

The birth of a child is a highly anticipated moment.  It’s the culmination of months of preparation, patience, and dare I say it, resisting temptation. Everything from coloring your hair, to eating sushi, to drinking alcohol is put on hold the moment you find out you’re pregnant. Here’s another “no-no” to add to your list: artificial fragrances.

Synthetic chemicals found in umbilical cord blood of American newborns.A study by the Environmental Working Group revealed 232 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn American babies. Synthetic musks, common components of fragrance, were found in 7 of the blood samples.

These results are significant because artificial fragrances are toxic and have been linked to developmental illness, infertility, even birth defects and cancer.

What’s even more disturbing is due to labeling laws, the ingredients in fragrance products are considered “trade secrets,”  and do not need to be disclosed.

If you’re pregnant –or planning on it—here are some precautionary measures you can take:

  • Choose products free of synthetic fragrance.
  • Make your own cosmetics.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has great recipes.
  • Be proactive. Contact the manufactures of your favorite lotions, perfumes, and lip balms, and encourage them to use non-toxic ingredients and to fully disclose this information on labels.

As wonderful as it is to look and smell nice, consider the risks of the products you’re using and their effect on your newborn.  By forgoing those toxic perfumes, you’ll be able to enjoy that new baby smell even more.

Posted by on December 29th, 2009 3 Comments

Poisonous Perfume

I’m pretty sensitive to smells, especially when it comes to perfume. The fragrance section in a department store is a guaranteed trip down Migraine Lane, leaving me no choice but to pop copious amounts of ibuprofen, draw the blinds and don a cold wash cloth for the rest of the night. Until recently, I chalked this phenomenon up to a weak stomach, weird DNA, whatever—all I knew was that perfume was not for me.

After doing some research, I learned there are plenty of reasons why perfume makes people sick.

95% of scented products on the market are made largely or entirely of synthetic chemicals, usually derived from petroleum or coal tar [1].

These synthetic chemicals can cause asthma, headaches (hello, department store!), dizziness, allergic skin reactions and nausea [2]. They can disrupt the endocrine system, instrumental in regulating hormones, growth, development and puberty. Some perfumes contain carcinogenic compounds that can cause birth defects and cancer.

Which perfumes are the worst culprits? Unfortunately, most of the top sellers. The EWG’s (Environmental Working group) Skin Deep cosmetic safety database rated Ralph Lauren’s Romance an 8 out of 10 for health hazard (10 being the most dangerous); Lancome’s Attraction a 9, and Diesel’s Fuel for Life a 10 (maybe that stuff really does contain diesel?).

Does it mean we should never wear perfume again? Perhaps we just need to be more cautious when choosing a scent.

Look up your scent. If it doesn’t score well, consider switching to something less harmful, especially if you have been experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms. There are plenty of alternatives free of harsh chemicals. Some even have samples for less than $3!

Please post recommendations!

8/27/2009: Update from our friend Swallowfield.  Apparently Indie Fixx offers a good do-it-yourself perfume alternative.

[1 & 2] Neurotoxins at Home and In The Workplace. Report 99-827. Committee on Science and Technology September 16, 1986.

Posted by on August 25th, 2009 1 Comment