The Truth About Artificial Fragrance

The olfactory sense is one of our strongest — tied to memories, emotions and survival.  Have you ever been walking through a store and smelled a familiar scent that reminded you of your Grandmother?  In our modern world, we are surrounded by a myriad of scents whether by our own intention or forced upon us. From perfumes and air fresheners to laundry detergents and skincare products, artificial fragrances have become an unavoidable part of our daily lives.  Only now are we beginning to realize the serious effects on our health.  

The Deceptive Allure

Think about it – when you spray that air freshener or slather on that scented lotion, you're not just inhaling a pleasant aroma. You're also getting a big whiff of things like phthalates, which can mess with your hormones, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can trigger allergies and even contribute to respiratory issues. Not exactly what you signed up for, right?

The Hidden Health Risks

Endocrine disruption linked to reproductive abnormalities + hormone imbalances 

Mucosal irritation 







What To Look For

Not all exposure is avoidable, but these are easy steps you can take to minimize your exposure:


— Stop buying products with artificial fragrance and beware of brands labeled “natural fragrance” unless they are disclosing what those ingredients are.  It’s 2024 - we are demanding transparency! 

— Remove all scented candles + air fresheners from your home

— Switch to fragrance free detergent


A word of caution about the labeling terms “natural,” “nontoxic,” and “green” — these are unregulated and require no standardized ingredient information (looking at you Seventh Generation and Mrs. Myers). In a recent study Steinemann et al. (2011) found that the VOC composition of “green”- labeled fragranced products was not significantly different from that of other fragranced products with regard to number of hazardous chemicals as defined under U.S. federal laws.

There's a bright side to all of this – natural alternatives. Yep, you heard that right – Mother Nature's got your back when it comes to smelling fresh and fabulous. Steam-distilled essential oils, for example, are like little drops of pure goodness straight from the earth. Not only do they smell amazing, but they also come without the health implications found in artificial fragrances.  Once you rid your home and personal products of artificial fragrance, you’ll never want to go back.