Beauty Lifestyle

Fragrance is The New Second-Hand Smoking

For those of us who are non-smokers, we know how bad it is to be surrounded by smokers. Or people who have just finished smoking – that stale, acid and musky scent that hits you in the nose and nauseates you. Well, fragrance is the new second-hand smoking!

We are not trying to single out smokers. It is important that smokers consider what non-smokers think or feel when they are around. We hope that this is an incentive to quit smoking perhaps or to do it privately and in closed quarters.

There are numerous studies on the harmful effects of smoking for smokers and the doubling effect on second-hand smoke to non-smokers. A quick google search can return several results of these studies.

Luckily, governments have implemented several laws limiting smoking areas and imposed rules and regulations regarding distances. They have also recently passed a Fragrance Free Environment and Scent-Free policy in offices in Canada and other countries. If you or your employer would like a sample template, follow the link to the policy above.

Fragrance is The New Second-Hand Smoking

Before the proliferation of chemical fragrances, smoke and second-hand smoke were extremely prevalent. However, it seems that today, a new scent has taken over. Fragrances are becoming more and more prevalent. Day after day, it seems that our exposure to fragrances has taken over our environment. Every product you consume has a fragrance listed as one of the ingredients. Just the other day we went for a walk around town, and could not help but notice that no matter where you turned there was a fragrance hitting us in the face.

You cannot go into a public place and not be taken over by the multitude and soup of scents emanating from people. The problem is that the people partaking in this toxic and detrimental habit do not realize it because the body becomes desensitized. Like anything in life, the more you do, the more you need.

Fragrance sensitivity is becoming a common issue nowadays. Most people do not realize this, but more and more individuals are becoming extremely sensitive to chemical fragrances and are beginning to experience severe reactions and health implications.

What is Chemical Fragrance?

“Fragrance” (“perfume”) is listed as an ingredient in practically everything these days: body wash, shampoo, soap, makeup, perfume, laundry detergent, fabric softener, hairspray, dish soap, household cleaning products and the list goes on. The term fragrance is a catch-all and vague term used by corporations to literally mask the cocktail of chemicals (studies suggest it could contain up to 4000 chemicals per fragrance [1]).

The term “fragrance” or “perfume/parfum” on an ingredient list refer to a “trade secret” recipe that is made with thousands of synthetic chemicals. Companies do not have to disclose which chemicals they use, nor do they have to test for their safety [2]. Not many of these chemicals pass stringent testing, but the few that were have shown to produce harmful side effects such as reproductive harm, known neurotoxins and respiratory issues, to name a few.

Link Between Chemical Fragrances and these health issues and symptoms:

Below are some of the health issues and symptoms that have a link to chemical fragrances. Please make sure to research these links and/or to speak to a doctor.

Endocrine disruption
Hormone imbalance
Brain fog
Memory and concentration issues
Headaches and migraines
Respiratory problems
Birth defects
Damaged sperm

An example of one of the most known chemicals today is phthalates. If you google this chemical, you will find an enormous amount of information. This chemical is now starting to become very well-known and for causing issues such as reproductive system birth defects, hormonal changes, reduced sperm motility and concentration, increased damage to sperm DNA, obesity and insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, thyroid irregularities, asthma, and skin allergies, miscarriage, and infertility, to name a few.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) produced a study on phthalates showing that nearly 75% of name-brand products, while not a single product listed phthalates as ingredients. The reason for this lack of transparency is because phthalates fall under this “trade secret” and can be slipped into the chemical cocktail that results in one simple word, fragrance, on the ingredients list [3].

Perfume, cosmetics, creams, scented laundry detergents, hair products, air fresheners, the list goes on. Just like cigarette smoke, these fragrances create an aura of fragrance that pollutes the air. At their core, second-hand smoke and today’s fragrance epidemic are both battles over indoor air quality.

Does “fragrance-free” or “unscented” really mean there is no fragrance?

No, unfortunately not. Products labelled “unscented” or “fragrance-free” may contain fragrances. The use is to mask the smell of other ingredients. Health Canada has rules on how companies can use these two terms on labels. According to Health Canada’s labelling regulations, “fragrance free” or “unscented” means that there are no fragrances added to the product, or that a masking agent has been added to hide the scents from the other ingredients in the products.

Top Essential Oils to Have on Hand

What Can You Do?

As consumers, it always comes down to us and how we vote with our hard earned dollars. Please remember that chemical fragrances and fragrances derived from organic essential oils, herbs and spices are not the same. The former are synthetic forms, whereas the latter are derived from Mother Nature and have been used for millennia. Please take a look at the list of versatile essential oils that you should have on hand at home to enjoy.

We hope this sheds some light on the dangers of synthetic fragrances and that you will think twice before slathering your skin with toxic substances. Please take into consideration that not only are you harming yourself but those around you and Mother Nature.

To your health and wise choices and to a life truly inspired by nature.

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Comments (3)


A very timely topic. Thanks. Frequently, I see people coughing and sneezing while using the public transportation system…I often believe it is a reaction to someone else’s fragrance.
Most of the time, the scent is overpowering.


Thanks for your feedback Rita! Yes, Maria has developed an allergy to fragrance a few years ago and we have experienced this first hand. Doctors were unable to figure out the cause of her allergy, she had to go through a bunch of basic allergy tests that were all negative. We had to figure out that it was an allergy to fragrance by keeping a log 🙂
Sometimes we are our best doctors!

What is Organic Skincare? - Life Inspired by Nature

[…] synthetic preservatives and other harmful ingredients such as petroleum products, artificial fragrances and colors (including dyes), parabens and phthalates among others. These ingredients can cause […]

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