Making Sense of Scents

Hi there! I’m Emily, another student research assistant in Protect Our Breasts. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I thought it would be important to inform you all about a very popular Valentine’s Day gift; fragrance.

As I was explaining to my sister over winter break as she was spraying 5 squirts of perfume on her, fragrance is a contributor to Breast Cancer. It is a known endocrine disruptor(EDC) due to the hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds that make up the term “fragrance”. The ingredient of “fragrance” listed on the labels of our cosmetics, cleaning products, and most importantly perfume is an umbrella term because manufacturers are not required to list exactly what creates their “fragrance”.  I simply referred my sister to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics article on Fragrance (

What most people don’t know is that on top of allergens and sensitizers, fragrance contains phthalates, neurotoxins, and synthetic musks. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption. Diethyl phthalate (DEP) and DEHP are banned in Europe but are found in many popular perfumes. As phthalates are becoming more recognizable on labels, manufacturers hide them under the term “fragrance”. Synthetic musks (also EDCs) such as Galaxolide and Tonalide are also another ingredient tested to be in many fragrances.

So after my sister read this article and was freaked out that she just “sprayed toxins” (in her words) on herself, she asked me what she should do. Knowing that she would not be able to just stop using fragrance all together I referred her to the EWG Skin Deep database that give toxicity ratings on numerous cosmetic products (including fragrance!).  So instead of using the commercialized perfume she was so used to, she has decided to try Hugo Naturals Essential mists and lotions. For anyone else looking for perfume alternatives, essential oils can able you a fresh scent without covering your body with toxins that contribute to Breast Cancer. Check out your local Whole Foods or other natural stores. So with the love-centric holiday just around the corner, let’s all show how much we adore our loved ones by giving gifts that avoid Breast Cancer.


Comments are closed.