What's that smell?
Fragrances are designed to make you smell good, but is that all they are doing? In a recently released study of 17 name-brand fragrances co-authored by EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, we found that they contain secret ingredients, chemicals not listed on the label, with troubling hazardous properties.
We found 38 unlisted chemicals in our testing. The average fragrance tested contained 14 secret chemicals. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the industry's own safety panel.
In 1973 Congress passed the federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. The law, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels, specifically exempts fragrances. Since then, the vague word "fragrance" is all you'll find on the label. If there's anything to be grateful for in this, "fragrance" is a recognizable word that is easily avoided by label readers.
The FDA has not assessed the vast majority of these secret fragrance chemicals for safety when used in spray-on personal care products such as fragrances. Most have not even been evaluated by the safety review panel of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) or any other publicly accountable institution.
Of the chemicals that have been tested, there isn't a lot of good news. The vague term "fragrance" covers chemicals that can be linked to reproductive damage, hormone disruption, and can trigger allergic reactions.
Fragrances may be designed to make you smell better and feel good about yourself, but here at EWG we don't know how you can feel good when you don't know what you are putting on your body. We hope this new report will help you make better-informed choices about your fragrances.
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