Unmasking Perfume

Marketing imagery has long connected scent to womanly allure. As I transitioned to ‘clean beauty’ perfume, I was aware that I hadn’t given any thought to the fact the fragrance actually bloomed to life inside a lab, nor had I thought to question the ingredients in those beautiful bottles of perfume sitting on my dresser.  

It wasn’t easy letting go of one particular bottle, partly because I’d come to see it as my signature scent but also because of the many special memories attached to the scent.  

Thankfully I have since discovered, natural perfumes are just as beautiful as their synthetic counterparts. The added benefit is I now don’t get the red, itchy skin nor the immediate sneezes that generally followed each spray. I never questioned those reactions, instead accepting them as a fairly typical response, until I deep dived into learning about chemicals in products.  

Of particular concern was the use of phthalates, plasticiser compounds commonly used to make plastics soft and bendy but also used in synthetic perfumes to help the fragrance ‘stick’ and linger longer. Not only is that word hideous to spell and say, so too are the known effects of phthalates. Fortunately, our body can excrete phthalates from the body quickly unlike some other chemicals, but, and the big but is that repeated, daily use of products containing phthalates build up within our body as levels begin to exceed what our body is capable of excreting. Current evidence on phthalates indicates there may be an association with breast cancer tumours, lower sperm counts, reduced male testes and penis size in babies and asthma.  Several types of phthalates are known endocrine disruptors and as someone with hyperthyroidism, an endocrine disorder affecting thyroid hormone production, it seems foolish to put more pressure on my endocrine system that already struggles. I also can’t be sure that all those years of dousing myself in perfume chemicals didn’t have some role in the development of my autoimmune thyroid illness. 

Here are a few of the other fragrance facts I became aware of: 

  • Fragrance free can mean that the product is still fragranced but has a masking agent to prevent the brain from detecting an odour. 
  • Individual components of a fragrance do not have to be disclosed in Australia   
  • Fragrance components have been found in breast milk 
  • The term fragrance on a label can also cover any parabens (used as a preservative) and synthetic musk used in the product 

So now that you might be feeling turned off your old fave perfume, I have some suggestions on where to find your new clean beauty signature scent. 

  • I really love Vanessa Megan’s Monarch which is available over at Nourished Life.  
  • The Natural Perfume Co are the largest online perfumery for all natural ‘clean beauty’ brands. There’s a handy quiz and they even have a blog featuring popular synthetic fragrances brands and similar natural alternatives to help you make the swap.  
  • High quality essential oils from reputable companies, mixed with a carrier oil are another way you can make your own perfume. We recommend DoTerra and Young Living brands. You can find more information on our website under the directory.

Xx Sim