Is Your Perfume or Cologne Toxic?


It may smell good, but is this intoxicating scent that you enjoy so much damaging your health?

When you breathe in fragrance it goes through your sinuses directly to your brain. Chemicals are also absorbed through the skin and eyes, getting into the blood stream or targeting organs. These chemicals can have a major effect on everything from your mood to your physical state of health.

Many of the chemical ingredients in perfumes, colognes, and beauty products these days are the same dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes, only with the fragrance industry there is no regulation and they are not forced to disclose what goes into their proprietary mixes.

In 1986, the National Academy of Sciences recommended before the 99th US Congress that fragrances be tested for neurotoxicity and regulated. This so far has not happened. Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets. Manufacturers do not have to tell anyone, including the FDA what is in those formulas. They do not have to be safety tested or carry any warnings. They are allowed to put any chemical in them they so choose, safe or not, and they do.

Perfume is often composed of many of the same toxic chemicals found on the EPA’s hazardous waste list, these are not things you want to be putting on your body…. Here are the top 10 most included offenders:

1. ACETONE (in: cologne, dishwashing liquid and detergent, nail enamel remover)

Effects: Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throat; dizziness, nausea, lack of coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, and, in severe exposures, coma.

2. BENZALDEHYDE (in: perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent)

Effects: Narcotic, Sensitizer, Local anesthetic, Nervous system depressant, irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain. May cause kidney damage. Do not use with contact lenses.

3. BENZYL ACETATE (in: perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants)

Effects: Carcinogenic – From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages. Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects.

4. BENZYL ALCOHOL (in: perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, Vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener)

Effects: Irritating to the upper respiratory tract, may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, central nervous system depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure.

5. CAMPHOR (in: perfume, shaving cream, nail enamel, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, nail color, stickup air freshener)

Effects: Local irritant and central nervous system stimulant. It is readily absorbed through skin and can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat as well as dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions. Avoid inhalation of vapors.

6. ETHANOL (in: perfume, hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover)

Effects: Fatigue; irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations. Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor. Causes CNS disorder.

7. ETHYL ACETATE (in: after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid)

Effect: Narcotic. Irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. May cause headache and narcosis (stupor). Has defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking. May cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys. Wash thoroughly after handling.

8. LIMONENE (in: perfume, cologne, disinfectant spray, bar soap, shaving cream, deodorants, nail color and remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, air fresheners, after shave, bleach, paint and varnish remover)

Effect: Carcinogenic. Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer. Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor.

9. LINALOOL (in: perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant)

Effect: Narcotic. Causes respiratory disturbances. It attracts bees. In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression, development of respiratory disturbances leading to death. Causes CNS disorder.

10. METHYLENE CHLORIDE (in: shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover)

Banned by the FDA in 1988! No enforcement possible due to trade secret laws protecting chemical fragrance industry. On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists.

Effect: Carcinogenic when it is absorbed and stored in body fat, it metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, tingling in the limbs. Causes CNS disorder.

What you can do:

Your health isn’t something you want to take chances with and certainly not in the name of vanity.

1. Choose products with no added fragrance
2. If you are very attached to your fragrance, try to use it sparingly and less often
3. Choose natural alternative scents like essential oils, which are certified pure such as DoTERRA Oils


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Sarah Barendse
Writer | Graphic Designer at Sarah Barendse Creative
My name is Sarah Barendse. I am a Natural Health Advocate, Writer, Graphic Designer, Life Enthusiast, and Spiritualist. I have been writing for Natural News since 2013 and uncovered some pretty crazy health and wellness issues that seemingly had gone previously unnoticed.

While I publish here I also have my own site, Please visit me there for more in depth articles!