Fragrance - Who Regulates This Anyway?

Fragrances can include all kinds of chemicals

Ooooooh.... this is my personal favorite HATED chemical. Meaning: it's the one that flat out angers me the most. And... in case you're wondering, that's NOT a pretty sight to behold.

When I find “fragrance” in products labeled for kids? GET THEE BEHIND ME EVIL. Because OH MY. This one is naaaaaasty. Okay... Let's start talking... 

“Fragrance” needs better regulation

Many products list “fragrance” on the label, but very few name the specific ingredients that make up a “fragrance.” Why? Wellllll..... This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” So as a result, they can hide a myriad of ingredients behind the Fragrance and not disclose them. This can include a host of banned and toxic chemicals... so something can LOOK like a clean label, but if you see the word Fragrance (or a variation, see below) listed on the label - PUT IT BACK. Yuck. Hidden dangers. GAG.

This lack of disclosure prevents consumers from knowing the full list of ingredients in their products. While most fragrance chemicals are not disclosed, we do know that some are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, and sensitivities. Clearly, there is a need for stronger regulations, more research, and greater transparency.

Where can we find “Fragrance”?

Fragrance is found in most personal care products including sunscreen, shampoo, soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, serums, exfoliating scrubs, and perfume.

Fragrance is defined by the FDA as a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne (including those used in other products) its distinct scent. Fragrance ingredients may be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials. Companies that manufacture perfume or cologne purchase fragrance mixtures from fragrance houses (companies that specialize in developing fragrances) to develop their own proprietary blends. In addition to “scent” chemicals that create the fragrance, perfumes and colognes also contain solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes. These additives are frequently, but not always, listed on product labels. In contrast, the chemical components in fragrance itself are protected as trade secrets and described on the label only as “fragrance.”

In other personal care products, fragrances that are added also include the combination of ingredients that give the product a scent and that stabilize the scent. These are typically only indicated by the term “fragrance” or “parfum.”

Dangers of using products with Fragrance

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reported as being used in fragrance compounds. Of these 3,059 ingredients, some have evidence linking them to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and sensitivities. Check out the link at the bottom of this post if you want to see the list and studies done on many of these chemicals. It's WAY more than I can post here!

Laws about Fragrance

Current laws do not provide the FDA with the authority to require disclosure or public safety of fragrance ingredients. In the U.S., companies are required to list ingredients on the label; however, this regulation excludes the individual constituents of fragrance in order to preserve fragrance trade secrets. This sustains a loophole that leads to disclosure gaps.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) develop and set voluntary standards for chemicals in the “fragrance” component of products. The US, Canada, and Europe rely on IFRA and RIFM to identify ingredients for use in fragrance. In effect, this means the international Fragrance industry is self-regulating.  Did you hear that?  It’s SELF-REGULATING!


C'mon y'all. Use the Thinker the Maker gave ya. No way. Skettttcccchhhhhy. There you have it.  There are tons of chemicals in common products and we need to be educated to keep our bodies safe because the regulatory agencies are not going to do it for us!

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