The power of perfume


Fragrance, it is so personal and can be so emotive, perhaps reminding us of a memory, someone we love or perhaps a special event like a wedding day.  But do you know what’s in it your fragrance?

Spritzing myself with perfume as I headed out the door to work used to be an essential part of my morning routine along with cleaning my teeth, and I had a travel size version to ‘top up’ during the day or if I was going out after work.

I haven’t worn perfume for over two years now, and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t because of the chemicals (initially) but it was because of my clients. Some of them are very sensitive to smells, and perfume can be overwhelming for them.  Also, I find perfume is very personal.  There are some scents I love, and then others where the person sits next to you on the tube and you have to cover your nose! 

I actually smelt my perfumes the other day (as the bottles still look pretty on my dresser!) … oh wow! Not only were they strong, they smelt really synthetic to me. It was quite over-powering. 

I then looked my favourite perfume up on the Think Dirty app and it scored 8/10 for ‘dirty’ (harmful) ingredients and it was simply down to the fragrance and something called Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (EM) which is not only a carcinogen but a known hormone disruptor! You also fine EM in sunscreeens as it acts as a UV filter, and so it is included in perfumes to protect them from sun damage (the fragrance that is, not you)!

The challenge is, trying to find what’s in them exactly as the law seems to protect brands and their secret formulas whereby, they can just hide ingredients under the term ‘fragrance’.  Fortunately, nasties such as phlataes have been banned here in the UK (although not in the US) but I would argue that if a brand is unwilling to list what is in their product, then you shouldn’t buy it.

According to Maria Rodale, who wrote an article for Huffington Post last year, more than 95% of the chemicals in synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals.

This also includes the household fragrances that you can buy that ‘plug in’, spray, add to your washing or even light in candles. 

What happens when our body absorbs these ‘fragrances’?

Either way, your body is absorbing these chemicals, adding to what we in functional medicine call, toxic burden – the amount of toxins your body has to cope with that can then accumulate and cause health problems including: fatigue, brain fog, sleep issues and headaches.  Over time, this may then lead to conditions such as autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.

Over time, I have been whittling down the amount of chemicals I come into contact with.  All my washing powders, skin care products, deodorant and shampoos are organic, natural products now, and I would say 90% of my make-up is too.

If I need fragrance these days, I now use essential oils but there are some exciting natural perfume brands catching on in the UK now and with Christmas being a key perfume gift time maybe ask for a more natural scent or treat others to one, and you’ll be giving them more than just a bottle of perfume.

Walden Natural Perfumes are going on my Christmas list this year , especially their rollerballs, but here’s a few others you can try:

·       Pacifica

·       Balm Balm

·       Earth Mother Soul Sister

·       And one for the boys - Ceyx

However, if you can’t part with your normal signature scent then I challenge you to go just one week without wearing any perfume at all (no cheating with body sprays) and then see what it smells like!  Or maybe save it for weekends or special occasions and cut down the usage but do start to pay attention to what you put on your body as well as in it.

Photo by Dids from Pexels