Chemicals in Cosmetics

Discover The Truth Behind Synthetic Fragrances In Cosmetics

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Fragrance compounds are the ingredients that make up the fragrance in all the food, cosmetics, etc. products used. In order to create an odor, the substance must be the volatile substance in the air, it is sufficiently concentrated and has the binding ability to the receptors at the end of the nose – the olfactory receptors.
Natural fragrances are extracted from plants by extracting the ethereal oil (which creates the scent in the plant) into a concentrated solution when many kilograms of plants/flowers are required to produce some essential oil.
Because of the high prices of essential oils, most cosmetic product manufacturers, including some producers of natural cosmetics, use aromatic synthetic fragrances in cosmetics produced by different methods from petroleum products and other substances that undergo complex chemical processes to produce them. Therefore, in most products, ‘Fragrance’ is a generic name for synthetic fragrances.
Therefore, in most products, ‘Fragrance’ is a generic name for synthetic fragrances.
Although the law requires producers to list all the chemical ingredients in products, the odor substances issue allows them not to register what the odor substances are composed of (the trade secret of the companies). What often hides behind this little word is a mixture of hundreds of ingredients that studies show may be related to a variety of health problems including allergies, skin reactions, hormonal problems, and even possible birth defects.
The almost sole control of fragrance ingredients is carried out by an organization of the fragrance substances manufacturers themselves – the International Fragrance Association, which finances and performs safety assessments of the ingredients.

Among the problematic ingredients in fragrances are:

Phthalates – a common component of plastic materials suspected of causing birth defects in boys’ reproductive systems as well as hormonal changes in 3-month-old infants who breastfeed their mother’s milk (1). These substances were also found to impair semen quality in adults (3). A study conducted in the US found that 75% of the cosmetic products tested in the market used phthalates (4), and all the products did not mention the use of phthalates on the label and were probably found to be described as fragrances.
MUSK – a central odor agent (the natural substance is produced from deer male glands (5)). Artificial Musk oil contains two main groups – nitro musks, polycyclic musks – substances that accumulate in the body and are often found during blood and breast milk tests (6-9). These substances are related to skin irritation and skin sensitivity problems and even to cancer in laboratory tests (10-11). They are also associated with women’s fertility problems at high concentrations of exposure (12). Studies indicate that both ‘polycyclic musk’ and ‘nitromusk’ can affect the hormonal systems (13-16). In the European Union, it was decided not to approve the use of some of the nitro musks in cosmetics as a fragrance. But the use of polycyclic musk as an alternative to the more toxic nitro musks was increased.

Allergic reactions to Fragrance

The fragrance is considered among the top 5 known allergens (17-18) to be declared an allergen of the year in 2007 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society (19) and is known to be capable of causing asthma and asthma attacks (20-21). The medical information has been found in about 680 researches that examine the allergenic substances of fragrance and fragrance.
In an attempt to assess the percentage of adults in the fragrance-sensitive population, about 2% of people are sensitive to these substances, indicating that it is a very important factor in the health of men and women.
In light of the endless chemical lists behind the little word ‘Fragrance’ that appears in almost all labels in cosmetics, it is recommended to consider reducing the use and exposure to fragrance products for personal use or cleaning materials.

Written by Ido Mashall


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2. Main KM , et al. Human breast milk contamination with phthalates and alterations of endogenous reproductive hormones in infants three months of age. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):270-6.
3. Duty, S.M., et al., The relationship between environmental exposure to phthalates and computer-aided sperm analysis motion parameters. J Androl, 2004. 25(2): p. 293-302.
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10. Maekawa, A., et al., Long-term toxicity/carcinogenicity of musk xylol in B6C3F1 mice. Food Chem Toxicol, 1990. 28(8): p. 581-6.
11. Apostolidis, S., et al., Evaluation of carcinogenic potential of two nitro-musk derivatives, musk xylene and musk tibetene in a host-mediated in vivo/in vitro assay system. Anticancer Res, 2002. 22(5): p. 2657-62.
12. Eisenhardt, S., et al., Nitromusk compounds in women with gynecological and endocrine dysfunction. Environ Res, 2001. 87(3): p. 123-30.
13. Seinen, W., et al., AHTN and HHCB show weak estrogenic–but no uterotrophic activity. Toxicol Lett, 1999. 111(1-2): p. 161-8.
14. Chou, Y.J. and D.R. Dietrich, Interactions of nitromusk parent compounds and their amino-metabolites with the estrogen receptors of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and the South African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). Toxicol Lett, 1999. 111(1-2): p. 27-36.
15. Bitsch, N., et al., Estrogenic activity of musk fragrances detected by the E-screen assay using human mcf-7 cells. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol, 2002. 43(3): p. 257-64.
16. Gomez, E., et al., Estrogenic activity of cosmetic components in reporter cell lines: parabens, UV screens, and musks. J Toxicol Environ Health A, 2005. 68(4): p. 239-51.
17. de Groot, A.C. and P.J. Frosch, Adverse reactions to fragrances. A clinical review. Contact Dermatitis, 1997. 36(2): p. 57-86.
18. Jansson, T. and M. Loden, Strategy to decrease the risk of adverse effects of fragrance ingredients in cosmetic products. Am J Contact Dermat, 2001. 12(3): p. 166-9.
20. Norback, D., et al., Asthmatic symptoms and volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and carbon dioxide in dwellings. Occup Environ Med, 1995. 52(6): p. 388-95.
21. Millqvist, E. and O. Lowhagen, Placebo-controlled challenges with perfume in patients with asthma-like symptoms. Allergy, 1996. 51(6): p. 434-9.
22. Thyssen JP, Menné T, Linneberg A, Johansen JD., Contact sensitization to fragrances in the general population: a Koch‘s approach may reveal the burden of disease. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Apr;160(4):729-35. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

About ido mashall

Ido Mashall, BA in biology, B. Sc – Chemical Engineering, M. Sc. – Material Engineering (Technion), and a RCHhom- classical homeopath practitioner. Ido have more than 25 years experience in many industrial and chemical application and development. From 2007 ido is working and expertise in Natural Cosmetic development and manufacturing, Safety of cosmetic products and more.

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