The Impact Of Synthetic Fragrance

Ever had some flavoured milk and then gone and eaten the real thing to realize it smells nothing like it? Artificial flavour.

Ever wondered why something smells fruity but you just can’t pick which fruit? Artificial fragrance.

Some skin and body care products have up to 200 synthetic products all labelled under one ingredient.  ‘Fragrance’ or ‘Parfum’.

Your skin absorbs 65% of what you put on it and takes it into your bloodstream. Your skin doesn’t have a liver or kidneys to filter it through, unlike your digestive system.

Synthetic fragrances are a mix of other chemicals used to make a certain scent. Chemists and scientists spend a lot of time learning how much of this can make something smell more ‘alpine-ish’ or how a dash of this can make it smell a little more ‘freshly baked pie-like’.

The problem is, their only concern is to make sure that it smells good.  It’s usually the job of unwilling animals to make sure that it doesn’t damage the skin. (We’ll save that story for another time).

What are some side effects of using these artificial or synthetic products? Long-term use or even long term exposure to synthetic fragrances has been known to cause Hormone disruption.

Ask any doctor (whose last holiday wasn’t paid for by a drug company) and they’ll tell you the role that hormones play in the human body.  

Hormone disruption causes a hormone imbalance and is why we have 6 year old girls having their first period and women as early as 35 going through menopause.  

It doesn’t get any easier for the guys either. Phthalates, common in nearly all forms of hygiene  product, have been proven to cause a decrease in sperm count and quality in men while Eugenol, common in fragrances, induces mammary gland tumors in male rats.

As well as ‘scent’ chemicals, solvents, stabilizers (used to prevent oil separating from water), UV-absorbers, preservatives (increase shelf-life) and dyes (colour) can all be masked under the guise of ‘Fragrance’.

You may be asking ‘why do we use synthetic products then?’. Well, for the same reason the McDonald’s make chicken nuggets out of leftover chicken carcasses, rather than chicken breast.  It all boils down to profit.  

What is cheapest is usually what is slapped with a pretty label, high price tag and sold to us by people we see on MTV.

There is not much point blaming the manufacturer as their ass is covered. Government and industry regulations mean that any chemical that contributes to a scent does not have to be individually named.  

The knowledge of the chemical being present is intellectual property. A manufacturer can instead label the chemicals as ‘fragrance’ and that’s the end of it.  

We think a product with a synthetic ingredient should only be used if you cannot use an essential oil.  We recently discussed why we use only essential oils here.  

The best way to combat any company using synthetic materials is to simply not give them your money. Stating that you use cheap synthetic ingredients does not make selling synthetic products ok.  A company does not gain nobility by admitting it uses cheap ingredients.

Another way to avoid synthetic products is to educate yourself on them.  This is the reason we’ve written this blog.

Now would be a good time to make it clear that essential oils themselves are not immortal and absolutely perfect.  Some people are allergic to them and in this situation, synthetic products maybe the only viable alternative.

Still a skeptic about the damaging effects of synthetic fragrance? If The Groomed Man Co. blog isn’t reputable enough to make you stop buying crap, perhaps Scientific American’s take on it is.