Let's assume, you've scaled back on sweets, cut your portion sizes, intermittent fasted and sweated regularly at the gym, but you still can't seem to squeeze into your skinny jeans. Maybe it's time to consider if your fragrance is playing a role in packing on the pounds.
While research on the relationship between fragrance and body weight is still in the early stages, many studies suggest a direct link between the scents you wear and the number on your scale. In a Cell Metabolism article published in 2017, the team writes that the body’s sense of smell seems tied to its decision to store fat instead of burn it off.
Studies suggest that the type of scent like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, and even lavender may have more of an impact on your weight than the ingredients it contains. A 2011 study published in the journal "Food Quality and Preference" found that these sweet scents are typically associated with food and may increase your appetite.
Even worse, trying to avoid any of questionable chemicals can be tricky because manufacturers often lump them in under the term "fragrance."
The term “fragrance” means chemically formulated, laboratory synthesized petroleum compounds. 95% of all the ingredients in the fragrances used in perfume, cologne, scented body care products, laundry products, and cleaning products are produced from petroleum; they are NOT essential oils derived from living plant material. Fragrances are always synthetic and artificial, even if the label says that they are natural, green, or organic.
Are You Unknowingly Trading Your Breasts for Calvin Klein In A Bottle?
We are all seduced by glamorous ads that say “to be sexy is to smell delicious." Yet, the incidence of breast cancer has been on a steady rise over the past decades despite efforts like the monthly self-exam to make women aware of the risk. American and European women between the ages of twenty and fifty have higher levels of phthalates than any other population. Could phthalates be contributing to this rise of cancer in women? Research shows a definite connection.
Phthalates, or phthalate esters, are esters of phthalic acid. They are mainly used as substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, and added to cosmetics to increase their durability, and longevity. They are found in all kinds of plastic products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other fragrance preparations.
In January of 2012, researchers at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center found that children with higher levels of phthalates in their urine also tended to have a higher waist circumference than children with a lower concentration of phthalates.
A separate study released a few months later found a strong association between phthalates and obesity. Phthalates is the chemical used to delay fragrance and extend its life. It is found in most cosmetic products, including perfumes deodorants and hair products. This is the first study to have shown that both blood and urinary phthalates increased in proportion to Body Mass Index (BMI). The results show a strong association between obesity and phthalates.
The Addictive Power of Toxic Perfumes and Colognes
Is your perfume or cologne controlling your behavior? Is it possible that you are addicted? Let’s take a look at fragrances and see how they function in the human body. Let’s consider their addictive qualities and their capacity to control how we live.
Fragrances Contain Narcotic-like Substances
Fragrances contain chemicals that have narcotic-like properties. These substances do not produce a narcotic high, but they do cause dependency, which triggers the need for repeated use of the product to avoid the discomfort and irritability of withdrawal. Fragrances And Perfumes Are Being Labelled As The New “Second Hand Smoke”
Fragrances are made up of hundreds of chemicals many of which have functions known only to the fragrance manufacturers. Their formulas are trade secrets. It’s not just the individual ingredients that are of concern, but it is the complex interaction of all the ingredients that contribute to the highly addictive nature of fragrances.
Think you don’t take drugs? Think again. Take a good look at the list of ingredients on any bottle of perfume, lotion, or shampoo and you’ll find two narcotics listed—ethyl acetate and linalool. On the EPA Hazardous Waste List, this duo causes respiratory disturbances, depressed heart activity, reduced spontaneous motor responses, and stupor. In one study, a popular brand name perfume acted on brain receptors in a way similar to how alcohol affects mood. Additionally, another study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified benzaldehyde, ethyl acetate, and linalool as having definitely narcotic qualities. These chemicals are commonly found in perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, laundry detergents, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, bar soap, dishwasher detergent, aftershave, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dish-washing liquid, baby diapers, scented tampons, scented trash bags and in air fresheners.
In addition to the physically addictive aspects of fragrances, they are also emotionally addictive. This is due to the olfactory pathway in the brain through which sensations of smell enter the subconscious part of the brain.
Even the manufactures are bluntly admitting that their products are addictive. Look at this collection:
Humans Respond In An Involuntary Way To Smell Due To The Wiring Of The Olfactory Pathway.
Smell is unique among all our senses in its privileged access to the subconscious. That is because the olfactory nerves go directly to the primitive region of the brain called the limbic system. Limbic system is situated beneath the cerebral cortex which deals with emotion, motivation, and association of emotions with memory.
In other words, when you smell a perfume and other products containing fragrance, they have an immediate effect upon your emotions. These reactions happen even before the higher parts of the brain have the opportunity to recognize that an odor is present. Thus, fragrances can have a powerful influence over how a person feels and thinks even when the fragrances are very faint. This influence occurs for the person who wears fragrances and also for those who smell the secondhand fragrances that others are wearing.
Zookeepers at Dallas and Toronto Zoos found that when they sprayed the perfume, Obsession by Calvin Klein ( contains serious amounts of aphrodisiacs) in the tiger habitat; it stimulated reproductive activity. Such findings strongly suggest that fragrance producers are working with pheromones to evoke emotional and physiological reactions.
Pheromones are small organic molecules known as the “secret seducers” that influence biological processes to stimulate your sex drive. Animals secrete these pheromone-based chemical signals to communicate their gender or reproductive status to other animals — and humans are no exception. The existence of the pheromone pathway represents an opportunity for perfume manufacturers to influence human sexual desire and receptivity without a person being conscious of what is happening. Even though the pheromones can’t be smelled, they can change how men or women might react in social situations.
So, in addition to the narcotic effect of perfumes and their manipulation of your emotional state by means of the limbic system, fragrances also influence your sexual responsiveness through pheromones.
Toxic Ingredients You Should Look Out For In Perfumes
The truth is, there is no perfume that is completely “clean.” Almost all perfumes contain one type of chemical or another. Even some of the natural substances used in making perfumes may be toxic to some people. In other words, the term “clean perfume” only means that the concerned perfume does not contain certain chemicals or chemicals that have been identified EPA or FDA as toxic.
The toxic chemicals that are used in making some perfumes have been found to cause several health problems and negative reactions. For instance, people that react to these chemicals may experience any of the following:
Blisters on the part of the skin the perfume came in contact with.
Dryness of the part of the skin that came in contact with the perfume.
Skin discoloration (on the area the perfume usually touches).
Respiratory tract disorder, including respiratory failure
Aggravating asthma attacks
Damages to the nervous system
Reproductive system disorder
There are other more grave health problems that can be caused or aggravated by perfumes, especially those made with toxic ingredients. This is why you should know the perfume ingredients that you should always stay away from. In other words, if you read the label of a bottle of perfume and you see any of these ingredients written there, you should drop back the bottle and go for another perfume. Some of the ingredients you should avoid in perfumes are:
Acetone: This can cause the depression of the central nervous system. It can also cause slurred speech, headache, confusion, dry mouth, dizziness, and nausea.
Linalool: The chemical can cause central nervous system disorder and depression.
Benzaldehyde: This chemical irritates the eyes and lungs. It can also cause kidney damage, abdominal pain, and nausea. It is also a narcotic.
Camphor: This is capable of causing convulsion, muscle twitching, dizziness, nausea, and confusion.
Benzyl Acetate: This is a carcinogen, which is capable of causing pancreatic cancer. It can irritate the lungs and eyes. It equally causes cough.
Parabens: This chemical is a hormone distruptor, which is capable of causing cancer as well as affecting the reproductive system
Benzyl Alcohol: Benzyl alcohol can irritate the skin.
Methyl Chloride: Methyl chloride can irritate the respiratory tract, eyes, and skin.
Limonene: This is another known carcinogen.
Ethyl Acetate: This chemical can cause the irritation of the respiratory organs and the eyes.
Phthalates: This chemical has several harmful effects. One of the adverse effects of this chemical is low IQ in children, whose mothers were exposed to it during pregnancy. It also induces obesity and damages sperm cells.
Styrene: Styrene is a human carcinogen, which can cause cancer.
Musk Ketone: This chemical can irritate the skin as well as disrupt hormones.
Sulphates: This can cause the irritation of the lungs, the eyes, the mouth, and the skin.
The painful thing is that many perfumes contain one or more of these harmful ingredients. However, some of the ingredients are found to be more toxic than others. For instance, the extremely toxic ingredients to look out for can be detected from their adverse effects. As you can see, chemicals such as parabens, limonene, benzyl acetate, musk ketone, phthalates, and styrene, should be avoided at all costs.
Fragrance Seems To Be The New "Lipstick Index"
During hard times, economists have historically turned to something called the "lipstick index." The thinking goes that even when times are tough, people will still carve out room for small luxuries — like, say, a tube of lipstick.
In 2020, times were certainly tough, but buying a tube of lipstick was suddenly pointless given that masks obscured the lips. Lipstick and makeup sales overall, plummeted throughout 2020, making the lipstick index essentially obsolete.
But there was one beauty category that not only avoided free-fall last two years, but actually thrived, leading to a shocking surge in sales in the first quarter of 2021 that has even industry veterans scratching their heads: Fragrances.
Fragrance sales were up 45% in the first quarter of 2021 versus the year prior which included the onset of the pandemic, according to data from market research firm NPD Group. According to the industry advisors, a market development like this has never been seen before.
Why Do People Keep Buying Perfume?
The ballooning sales beg the obvious question: Why, in the midst of a pandemic that has sickened millions of Americans and shut down much of society, did people keep buying perfume? It's impossible to know for sure, but fragrance seems to be the new lipstick index.
According to the industry analysts, the rise in fragrance sales is inextricably linked to the pandemic, a dark time when people were looking for a getaway, if only mentally. There's a science behind your sense of smell and how it's directly related to your mood. It could be, to a degree, consumers wanting to escape and lift their spirits.
NPD Group recently conducted a consumer survey asking people why they were buying fragrances. It seems that in the absence of occasions for putting on makeup, consumers opted for another small luxury, one that only required a quick spritz. A great majority of the respondents said it was a treat for themselves. Is some kind of and industry designed addiction the culprit?
The Perfume Challenge
It is quite fascinating to watch the power of physically addictive aspects of fragrances. If you happen to be a heavy perfume user and it has been 4 or 5 hours since your last fragrance fix, the moment you feel like you need a pick-me-up, you might be probably going into withdrawal.
Finally, to those who say that they use fragrances all the time, but they are most certainly not addicted, I offer you a simple challenge. Why not prove to yourself that you are not addicted by going off all your perfume, cologne, and scented body care products, and discontinuing the use of scented laundry products and dryer sheets? Do it and see what happens. Try it for 30 days. If you are not addicted, then you will not experience any withdrawal symptoms or have any cravings to use these products.
However, if you get irritated, develop headaches, feel queasy, can’t sleep or maybe can’t wake up, feel depressed, or feel confused or foggy headed, then you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. If you can’t stop thinking about your perfume, then this is also a sign of addiction.
What else should you do? Opt for unscented products. If you must, choose only legitimately natural, pure, products made from organic, therapeutic-grade essential oils.
You should also observe your health condition. Do any of your health problems disappear after quitting your fragrance craze?