Health and wellbeing | 28.01.2015

What you need to know about synthetic fragrance in skin care

It's hard to believe its legal but it is. Lurking inside your skin care products, cosmetics and household cleaning products is something that could make you and your family very sick.

Even the cleanest, greenest person will have the odd product in the home that contains synthetic fragrance and if not, you're probably being exposed to it at work or whenever you come into close contact with other people, especially women who wear a lot of perfume. you and your family very sick — synthetic fragrance. 

Go and look at all your labels and you'll see it labelled as either 'fragrance' or 'parfum'. Those words sound harmless enough ­– but they are anything but.  

Under Australian law, the chemical components of a fragrance are considered a trade secret and do not need to be disclosed. That means when you see the words ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on a cosmetic or a skin care product, it could contain any number of chemicals from a pool of more than 5000 used by the beauty industry, most of which have never been tested for safety. 

According to a 2013 report released by Women’s Voices for the Earth,  almost 20% of the general population is sensitised to at least one allergen, and studies find that fragrance is one of the most frequently identified substances causing allergic reactions.  

The group says the lack of information on ingredients in fragrance is a major public health problem: "Allergic patients routinely suffer unnecessarily and incur significant health costs associated with those allergies. Disclosing fragrance 

ingredients, including those ingredients which have been identified by scientific bodies as allergens, is an imperative step that could have a significant global health benefit.” 

Synthetic fragrances can cause the following reactions: 

What are governments doing about it?

Back in 1986, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences identified fragrance as one of six categories of neurotoxins and recommend they be thoroughly investigated for their impact on human health. Not much has been done since then.

There is little governmental regulation of fragrance in Australia and the US. The fragrance industry is mostly self-regulating and has largely failed to address consumer health concerns about synthetic fragrance.

The EU is well ahead of the US or Australia.

In 2012 the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety adopted a new opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetics in which it updated its list of fragrance allergens that consumers should be made aware of. It confirmed that 26 fragrance allergens currently being used are of concern and indicated that three fragrance allergens (HICC, atranol and chloroatranol) should not be used in cosmetics.

cumulative effects of synthetic fragrances

While one-off use of a synthetic fragrance may not cause harm, cosmetics and skin care products are used on a daily basis. Add to that all the other fragranced products you use, such as dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent and you are looking at toxic levels.

Regulatory bodies don't consider the risk to our health of cumulative exposure to multiple chemicals from multiple sources. The health impacts of these exposures are largely unstudied and unregulated.

The long-term effects of synthetic fragrance are unquantifiable. What we do know is that more people are experiencing allergies and sensitivities than ever before.

The more we can minimise our exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals and toxins, the better. 

Why do cosmetics companies add synthetic fragrance to their products? 

Fragrance is often used in skin care products to give a sense of indulgence, but it doesn't serve any functional purpose (other than to cover up nasty-smelling ingredients).

None of the products in the Mukti Organics range contain any synthetic fragrances or perfumes.*

BUT — we know that people do enjoy using a beautifully scented product on their skin – as long as it’s natural and not harmful to health. 

Therefore, only use certified organic essential oils to naturally scent our range, making it suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin. We  recommend that you patch test the product on your skin, just in case you have a sensitivity. (Just because it's natural, doesn't mean you won't react).

Our essential oils do more than make you smell nice

The certified organic essential oils we use in our products are derived from flowers, fruit, grasses, seeds, bark, wood, roots, leaves, balsam and resin. They've been used for thousands of years and have stood the test of time.

These oils work both medicinally and therapeutically and are readily absorbed via the skin into the bloodstream, while having a balancing and regulating effect on sebum production.

The essential oil synergies in our formulations have been chosen for their beneficial qualities on the skin such as transdermal penetration, potency, natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and fungicidal properties, anti-aging and wound healing, fat dissolving and improvement in circulation. 

Plus — they smell divine. Without giving you, or people in your vicinity, a headache.

*On previous formulations we listed parfum as a preservative. Parfum is the generic name for the ingredient Naticide®, a vegetable-based fragrance which acts as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial preservative. It has a scent of vanilla and almond and can inhibit growth of bacteria, mould and yeasts. It is approved for use in organic skin care in Australia. Naticide® is the trade name owned by its manufacturer, Sinerga of Italy, and therefore not acceptable for use on a product ingredient list under International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (‘INCI’) rules. INCI requirements are to list this ingredient as either "parfum" or "fragrance" on the ingredient listing.
**We have since discontinued using this preservation system due to the potential sensitisation and the strong aroma.

Where do you stand on the issue of synthetic fragrances?


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