Is Perfume Harmful To Your Health?

Perfumes are one of the largest sources of exposure women have to chemicals called phthalates. What are phthalates? Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.

There are dozens of phthalates used in personal care products, only a few of which have been studied, and the one particular variety used in perfumes is a big question mark when it comes to your health. You’ll rarely find the word “phthalates” on a label (except for the occasional “phthalate-free,” which is helpful).

According to, Phthalates are readily absorbed through the skin and can also enter the body through ingestion, inhalation or medical injection procedures.

The more personal care products a woman used, the higher her body’s levels of phthalates.

The most commonly detected were metabolites of diethyl phthalate (DEP), a phthalate commonly used in lotions, shampoos, perfumes, and other scented products to prevent fragrances from dissipating.

The best way to protect yourself? Avoid products that use synthetic fragrances, and that goes not just for personal care products, but for cleaners and scented candles, as well.

• Find a better body oil. Plant essential oils are derived only from plants, not chemicals. Mix those with a neutral-smelling oil, such as grapeseed oil, to create your own perfume that serves double-duty as a moisturizer.

• Banish BO with baking soda. Another great product you can make yourself, deodorant doesn’t have to come with an ingredients list a mile long. You can make your own deodorant powder by mixing baking soda (which absorbs odor), cornstarch (which absorbs moisture), and a few drops of essential oil, if you want something scented.

Play around with the proportions to see what works best for you; baking soda can be drying, so start with a mixture of 1 part baking soda to 6 parts cornstarch, and adjust from there.

• Opt for clean-air candles. Standard candles and other air-freshening products are filled not just with phthalates but also a host of other potentially health-damaging chemicals. The healthiest candles are made with beeswax and scented with essential oils.

Be wary of the term “fragrance,” which is used to denote a combination of compounds, possibly including phthatates, which are a subject of recent concern because of studies showing they can mimic certain hormones.

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