Sweet Toxic Fragrances
The perfumes used to give cosmetics and beauty products their pleasant scent are complex and often comprised of several different chemicals, many of which have been found to cause everything from allergic reactions to cancer. There are as many as 3,000 chemicals being used as fragrances in not only perfume, but most of the beauty and personal care products on the market. Many of these chemicals have yet to be tested for toxicity and include known hormone-disrupting chemicals and carcinogens.
“An allergen is a protein that is known to cause an IgE-mediated reaction,” explains Beth A. Miller, MD, director of the University of Kentucky’s Asthma, Allergy, and Sinus Clinics and chief of the school’s division of allergy and immunology in Lexington. IgE, or immunoglobulin E, is an antibody produced by the body in response to exposure to an allergen.
Fragrance Allergies – Skin Reactions
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) are antibodies produced by the immune system. If you have an allergy, your immune system overreacts to an allergen by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
An irritant, on the other hand, doesn’t provoke the immune system. But it has no problem making eyes water or noses run.
It’s not understood how or why this happens. “An irritant is a chemical or product that causes symptoms without a known immunologic cause,” says Miller, so it does not cause an IgE-mediated reaction.
“Sensitivity is really a non-specific term,” notes Miller. Only an allergen can cause a true allergy, while “irritants cause sensitivities.”
The bottom line: What people call a “perfume allergy” is either fragrance sensitivity or an allergy to some chemical in the perfume.
Fragrance Causes – Burns or Brown Age Spots
Have you ever noticed that some ladies have distinct brown discoloration on areas such as the neck, décolletage and even on and behind their ears! This condition is a direct result of daily application of perfume to these areas.
Some perfumes even contain bergamot, a fragrant fruit that is photosensitive, meaning that it can cause aging spots or brown spots on your skin when it combines with the sun on your skin. The solution: spray perfume on your clothes instead of directly on your skin. Age spots are flat, brown, gray, or black spots on the skin.
Your favorite perfume or cologne is likely to contain alcohol, which when applied to your exposed skin during daylight hours, causes it to become photosensitive to sunlight. This means your skin is more likely to suffer from sunburn, leading to wrinkles, pigmentation and possibly even skin cancer.
So basically, applying perfume directly to the skin will accelerate burning; which in turn, sunburn causes wrinkles and pigmentation.
Contact dermatitis is a fairly common effect of perfume on the skin. This can cause your skin to develop a red, itchy rash that can be quite painful and even blister and become infected, depending on the severity of your reaction to the product. Those who use certain products regularly increase their risk of a severe reaction and even chronic skin disorders, such as eczema.
Safe Skin Perfume Tips:
- – Spray your perfume onto your wrists.
- – (Just don’t rub them together – this bruises the notes, altering the scent.)
- – Squirt your delicious smelling smell onto the skin under your clothes.
- – (Avoid spraying it onto your actual clothes – fragrance can stain fabrics!)
- – Heat helps emit the perfume from your body, so any body parts like your inner elbows and knees are also wonderful places to spray.
- – Oh, and spritzing your fragrance on your hair does leave a lovely lingering scent, but the alcohol can also dry out your strands so be careful when doing this.