To put it simply, “Fragrance Oils” or even just “Fragrance” are synthetic oils created from a multitude of chemicals, mixed together to produce a desired scent. These concoctions rarely come from or even resemble their natural sources (Similar to how banana candy doesn’t really taste like bananas, but is the chemical version of banana). Fragrances are found in a multitude of products, from personal care items and perfume to scented candle lines, deodorants and more, fragrances plague consumers on a daily basis. On an ingredient list, ‘fragrance’ may look like just one ingredient, but oftentimes indicates a list of undisclosed, harmful ingredients.
Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), the ingredients in any given fragrances are not legally required to be disclosed! Making it difficult for consumers to avoid ingredients they may be sensitive or allergic to. More unfortunately, it can be used to hide harmful ingredients from consumers.
There are a variety of concerns that can cause fragrances to be harmful for use, beyond just being potential allergens and sensitizers. Hormone disruptors and reproductive toxins are a few additional descriptions of some of the chemicals found in synthetic fragrances. In a study done by the Environmental Working Group, 17 name-brand perfumes were tested to find chemicals not listed on the labeling. On average, 14 undisclosed ingredients were discovered, including tonalide, Yellow 5, and galaxolide.