3 Reasons to Avoid Scented Products
How are menopause and scented products related? For one thing, they both affect your hormones, and it just might not be in the way that you think.
Scented products are very popular with women. For instance, raspberry bath bombs, cucumber melon body spray, or luxurious vanilla candles. Though these products are typically intended as a self-care treat, they may actually be harmful – especially as women age.
Here’s what you need to know about scented products and three reasons why you should find alternatives.
What’s in scented products?
Scented products are made to have a certain fragrance. Fragrances are frequently added to personal care products, like shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, body washes, hand soaps, deodorants, and lotions. They’re also found in many household items, like candles, cleaners, and detergents.
What makes scented products smell? The average fragrance contains anywhere between 100 and 350 chemical ingredients. That’s right, it takes a grand science experiment to create what seems like a simple aroma.
Are scents harmful?
Industrial chemical exposure can have detrimental health effects, so it’s important to know what’s behind a certain scent. Scented gifts like body sprays and room deodorizers give off vapors that are easily ingested. The volatile organic compounds in vapors attach themselves to clothing, hair, and pretty much everything else nearby, like carpets, drapes, and bedding.
But that’s not the only reason to avoid them, during menopause or at any time.
3 reasons to avoid scented products
1. The chemicals used in scented products go more than skin deep.
Scent chemicals can cause headaches, nausea, and loss of coordination. They can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, triggering asthma attacks and aggravating sinuses. One chemical used to bind and make scents last longer is diethyl phthalate. It’s also known to cause contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction making your skin red and itchy.
Diethyl phthalate, and many other fragrance chemicals, are also reproductive toxins. This means they can interrupt normal reproductive or sexual function. Some are endocrine disruptors, which can trick your body into thinking they’re hormones and prevent actual hormones from doing their job (probably not another side effect you want during menopause). Your body does what it can to rid itself of toxins, but some of them linger and even build up in tissues, creating problems later on. Women with high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their blood are more likely to start menopause an average of 2 to 4 years earlier than those with low levels.
Many scent chemicals are also derived from petroleum, which are classified as xenoestrogens (can produce estrogenic effects), can block and suffocate pores, and may even be carcinogenic.
2. You never truly know all of the chemicals hidden in a product.
The term “fragrance” is a bit like the label claim “all natural”. It indicates proprietary ingredients, isn’t a regulated term, and doesn’t tell you anything about what it is. Companies can hide questionable ingredients behind this verbiage, preventing consumers from thinking twice about it.
3. Scented products unnecessarily add to an already large daily toxin exposure.
It’s estimated that women are voluntarily exposed to over 168 chemicals daily. What’s more shocking is that this exposure comes through the use of only 12 products on average. Buying for yourself or gifting others more scented products, unfortunately, contributes to this problem.
What are some alternative safe scents?
Your first thought might be to purchase products labeled “fragrance-free”. Although some may use fewer ingredients than scented products, they can still contain fragrances used to mask other smells.
A better idea would be to buy natural or homemade products. Scents created with essential oils are great for self-care and make fabulous presents, and are easier than you think to whip up. Scrubs and bath salts are a cinch to make. If you need a few recipes, check out this guide. While you’re at it, go scentless with other common products. household cleaners and detergents can be made using a few inexpensive natural ingredients like baking soda, Castile soap, water, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar. Natural air fresheners can be produced using essential oils.
No time or interest to make your own products? You can look for safer commercial products. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great place to look for products with ingredients that have been evaluated by experts for safety. This includes cosmetics, lotions, and other products.
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