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7 Things You Didn't Know About "Fragrance"

Take a look at the ingredient list on any of your favorite scented products and you'll probably "fragrance." But, what exactly is fragrance?

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1. "Fragrance" can contain any number of the thousands of synthetic fragrances

Most manufacturers do not disclose the ingredients they use in fragrance, instead they choose to keep these ingredients a secret from their consumers. In this photo, you see that the exact same product sold in the US (left) simply lists "fragrance" while in the UK (right), the company is required to disclose the allergens linalool, hexyl, and cinnamal.

2. It's everywhere!

Beyond traditional perfumes, fragrance is used from everything from beauty products to laundry detergent. Even in products like feminine washes or tampons that come into contact with extremely sensitive parts of our bodies use fragrance that can contain toxic chemicals.

3. Gender matters

Women are up to 3 times more likely than men to have fragrance allergies and become sensitized decades earlier. Women are disproportionately target by fragrance marketing, and as such see much more negative health effects.

4. Your fave perfume may be making you sneeze for a reason

Tens of millions of people in the US have sensitivities to common fragrance ingredients. Symptoms can include skin and eye irritation, problems breathing, and can exacerbate asthma.

5. Allergies aren't the only problem

Ingredients like synthetic musks and phthalates have been shown to be nasty hormone disrupters. Phthalates especially have been shown to cause reproductive and developmental harm.

6. There isn't anyone regulating fragrance

The fragrance industry is virtually self-regulate and establishes its own safety guidelines for the use of fragrance chemicals. There is no third-party verification or independent testing done to make sure that the chemicals we're exposed to every day are safe.

7. YOU can do something!

The first step is to reduce or eliminate your use of fragrance products. Try some natural or DIY alternatives instead! You can also take the Fragrance Free pledge, letting companies know that you're not interested in fragranced products until they disclose all of their ingredients. Find out more at Women's Voices for the Earth.

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