What Chemicals Are in Perfume?

Jun. 11, 2021

Your perfume may not be as rosy as you think. While perfume may conjure up images of a patch of wildflowers, it actually consists of a variety of synthetic chemicals made in a lab. Many perfume ingredients are far from natural. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists 20 common perfume ingredients such as benzene, benzyl alcohol, limonene, acetone, and ethanol on the EPA's hazardous waste list. Many of these chemicals list headaches, nausea, and other complications as side effects. Next, the cinnamon series flavors and fragrances supplier will share the following content with you.



Until the 20th century, most perfumes were made from natural animal or plant ingredients and were luxury items. With the introduction of synthetic ingredients, perfumes became more readily available. The first synthetic fragrances were made from coal tar. Now, waste by-products can be used to create perfumes that smell like flowers and sold to the public for much less money.



More than 4,00 chemicals are used in today's perfumes. According to a 1991 study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 95% of these chemicals come from petroleum, some of which are potentially dangerous. Common ingredients in perfumes include acetone, ethanol, benzaldehyde, formaldehyde, limonene, methylene chloride, camphor, ethyl acetate, linalool, and benzyl alcohol. Phthalates and synthetic musks are also common and potentially dangerous ingredients.




The EPA Material Safety Data Sheets for most poplar perfume ingredients list many of the nasty side effects of exposure. Acetone, commonly found in colognes, is a central nervous system depressant that can cause nausea, dry mouth, and slurred speech. Inhalation of ethanol vapor can produce symptoms similar to indigestion. Benzaldehyde is an anesthetic and local anesthetic. Limonene is a carcinogen and should not be inhaled. Dichloromethane was banned by the FDA in 1988, but can still be found in perfumes due to lack of enforcement. Another carcinogenic substance is benzyl acetate, which has been linked to pancreatic cancer. All of these chemicals are present in everyday perfumes and are readily absorbed by the body each time you spray.



Although personal care products must list their ingredients, perfumes can keep their ingredients confidential because they fall under the "trade secret" category. Critics say the FDA has been lax in regulating the fragrance industry. The word "fragrance" can be used for any product that has a specific scent, but it is not clear what "fragrance" can mean. It could include one or 100 chemicals.



Many people experience adverse side effects when exposed to second-hand perfumes. People who suffer from asthma or allergies often cannot tolerate the presence of perfume. Chemical sensitivity, also known as multiple chemical sensitivity or environmental illness, is a condition in which people experience headaches or difficulty breathing due to exposure to perfume. Because of these conditions, some workplaces prohibit employees from using perfumes.

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