The truth about mainstream perfumes -
plus safe natural alternatives!

Sweet Smell of Death:

By Evan Johnson


Perfume is BIG business 

     Perfumes and other fragrances are big business worldwide.  When Coco Chanel introduced Chanel No. 5 in the 1930's, it was a huge event. This marked the beginning of the synthetic perfume industry, which rakes in $ billions in profits every year.

     Companies spend fortunes on fancy bottles and glitzy promotional campaigns.  Celebrities have perfumes made for them and market them to the max.  Consumers dutifully line up to spend even hundreds of dollars on a  single bottle of a hot fragrance.

     Perfumes and fragrances are found both "straight" as products in themselves and as additives to other products to improve their appeal to consumers.  Manufacturers know that the nose is boss; what "smells well, sells well."


     The only problem is that mainstream industry, as usual, adds toxic chemicals
to the perfumes and fragrances it pushes on the public and withholds this fact from consumers. In our opintion, this is utterly criminal activity. And it has gone virtually unpunished for decades.

     Recent information we encountered about just one group of chemicals commonly added to commercial fragrances and many other cosmetics is startling.  This family of chemicals is called phthalates (pronounced THA-lates).  Below is an excerpt from a CNN online article:  ---

     A report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) said the chemical in question is called dibutyl phthalate or DBP. Phthalates are a class of industrial plasticizers that were invented in the 1930s. They are often used in cosmetics because they make nail polish flexible, help bleed the chemicals of fragrances, and help lotion better penetrate the skin.  They aren't always required to be labeled on the products.

     Lab animals given dibutyl phthalate had higher numbers of offspring with birth defects, especially of the male reproductive system.

     In September, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study that tested 289 adults aged 20-60 for seven metabolites associated with exposure to various phthalates and found it was present in all of those tested, with women of childbearing age having the highest levels.

     Jane Houlihan, Senior Analyst at the EWG, said women between the ages of 15-45 are probably exposed to dibutyl phthalate through cosmetics and
particularly nail polish.

     "We think that women of childbearing are should avoid all exposures to dibutyl phthalate when they're considering becoming pregnant, when they're pregnant or when they're nursing," Houlihan said.

Link to full article:


The Environmental Working Group's review of the scientific literature revealed:

     "Scientists have shown that phthalates can damage the female reproductive system, but it is the male reproductive system that appears to be more sensitive.  Phthalate exposures damage the testes, prostate gland, epididymis [definition below], penis, and seminal vesicles [definition below] in laboratory animals (see, for example, Mylchreest et al. 1998). Most of these effects persist throughout the animal's life and include, specifically:  € Testicular atrophy - a defect that leads to reduced capacity to form sperm and male sex hormones; € Hypospadias - a defect of the penis in which the opening occurs on the bottom of the penis instead of the tip; € Undescended testicles - a condition in which the testes fail to descend into the scrotal sac during pregnancy; € Ectopic testes - a condition in which testes are grown outside the scrotal sac; € Absent testes - testes are not formed at all; € Absent prostate gland - the prostate gland contributes liquid  secretions to semen; € Absent or small seminal vesicles - these structures, like the  prostate gland, contribute liquid secretions to semen; € Reduced sperm count - leads to reduced fertility; € Malformed or absent epididymis - the epididymis is the structure  where sperm mature and are stored."



     Another consumer health watchdog group, Healthcare Without Harm, tested  72 of the following kinds of cosmetics:  Nail polish, fragrances (perfumes, body oils, etc.), hairsprays, deodorants and lotions.  Fifty-two of these contained phthalates as ingredients, though none were listed on the labels.

     Most of the phthalate-containing products are household names:  Aqua Net Professional Hair Spray; Degree Original Solid Deodorant; Nivea Crιme lotion.  Two of these were in the fragrance category: Elizabeth Arden's Red Door fragrance; Calvin Klein's Eternity perfume.


     Phthalates are not the only toxic or suspect ingredients found in mainstream perfumes and fragrances.

     According to Richard H. Conrad, Ph.D., author of "Perfume Expose," the synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics (and cleaning products) may contain hundreds of chemicals. There is no way to know what they are, since on the label it will simply say, "Fragrance." Some of the problems caused by these chemicals are headaches, dizziness, rash, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation - and the list goes on. Fragrances draw from up to 5000 hydrocarbons.  Some hydrocarbons are formaldehyde, styrene, toluene, phenol... hydrocarbons can cause depression, exhaustion, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, trouble thinking clearly, diminished blood flow and brain damage, not to mention possible cancers.

     Due to laws protecting trade secrets, ingredients are not required to be listed when used in fragrances. Thus mainstream cosmetic companies can and do hide their poisonous concoctions behind the label "fragrance."


     Since we know that mainstream cosmetic products including perfumes commonly contain phthalates and other toxins not listed on the labels, our  wisest choice as consumers is to avoid such products.

     So what are we to do if we simply love perfume??  Fortunately for us, there exist safe natural alternatives! Pure plant essential oils blended together in an organic base are a phthalate-free way to wear and enjoy scents.

     Even here, though, caution is advised.  Cheap so-called "fragrance oils"
are on the market that may contain solvents or other unlisted chemicals, extenders, even artificial scents. In general, if a fragrance is cheap, is REALLY strong and LASTS a long time without need for re-application, it's probably fake or has synthetic chemicals added to it.

     The thing to do is deal with smaller companies that seem to have integrity,
a personal mission and a definite natural philosophy across the boards.  We
have found not one of the big corporations that truly gets this right - and
it may be a long time before they do, motivated as they normally are by profits and stock price rather than by honest help to the consumer.

     Give your nose and your health a real treat! Use natural perfumes and
cosmetics only!

     We hope this information helps you and your family.

To our health!

Kevin and Evan

Evan's Garden
(727) 449-0900

© 2004 by Organic Beauty, Inc.

Do not copy without author's permission

Disclaimer: The above information is presented for educational purposes only. The reader should consult a licensed health practitioner for his or her health needs.

This article was used, with permission, from the Evan's Garden E-Newsletter.  This is a very interesting and informative newsletter that comes out regularly.  To join their mailing list, please contact them at the link below.


You can find more great information and all-natural health and beauty products at Evan's Web Site here


To find out more about the benefits of using all-natural beauty products, come to


All views expressed in the articles on our site are those of the various authors, they are presented here for your enjoyment and enlightenment.  These views do not necessarily represent the views of SharAmbrosia or the "all natural health" website.

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