The Fragrance Dilemma: Why Perfumes are Destroying your Health

The Fragrance Dilemma: Why Perfumes are Destroying your Health

We all love to smell good, but at what cost? That is what we are exploring in this blog post: the health risks of fragrance.

Perfume has become such a part of human culture, offering a sensory experience often apart of our beauty routine or a way to combat the FOS (fear of smelling). However, the use of perfume comes with many different health risks that are often never spoken about. We are going to take a dive into these, and then I’m going to provide you with some alternate solutions that bring the good smells without the bad repercussions.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Perfumes contain VOCs, which are a diverse group of carbon-based chemicals that readily evaporate into the air at room temperature. These are also present in things like paints, cleaning products, fuel and many other substances. VOCs have long been known to cause adverse health effects and are linked to an increased risk of cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys, and damage to the central nervous system. They can also cause respiratory issues and worsen any symptoms of asthma. So it goes without saying that it is super important to understand what VOCs are, where they are present and ways to reduce your exposure to VOCs. Perfume and fragrance is the easiest place to start, as just by swapping out your favourite perfume for something more natural, you can significantly reduce your exposure to potential VOCs. Here is some further reading on VOCs in the household.



Phthalates are a family of synthetic chemicals widely used in perfumes to slow the evaporation of perfume aromas on your skin to make the scent last longer. So if you have ever sprayed a perfume that you could still smell a few hours later, then I can guarantee you it contains phthalates. Phthalates are extremely toxic and have been linked to many different adverse health effects. However, it has been shown that their toxicity is mostly concentrated in the liver, kidney, thyroid gland tissue and testis. Epidemiological studies have heavily associated phthalate exposure and adverse reproductive outcomes in both men and women!  So if you are suffering with thyroid or reproductive concerns, then you should read a little more. Here is a scientific article that is extremely insightful, referencing many different scientific studies to back up the harmful effects of phthalates.


Migraine Triggers

If you suffer from migraines, then here is some food for thought. Maybe the toxins around you or fragrances around you are triggering your migraine. See, fragrances, especially those with strong synthetic components are common triggers for migraines and headaches but is rarely spoken about. They can easily overstimulate the olfactory system, leading to discomfort and in some cases, debilitating headaches. So swapping your perfume to a more natural option is a great way to see whether these could be triggering your migraines or headaches.

Endocrine disruptors

There is a large presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in perfumes that interfere with the delicate balance of hormones in the body. This distribution has been associated with a myriad of health issues, including disrupted reproductive function, thyroid dysfunction, and an increased risk of hormone-related cancers.


Natural alternatives

There are so many different options for natural alternatives! Essential oils are incredible options, where you can mix with a carrier oil such as a little bit of coconut oil and place wherever on your skin. You can make your own solid perfume by using natural ingredients such as beeswax, shea butter and essential oils, where it will then melt when you rub it on your skin. You could use vanilla extract, aromatherapy jewellery, or floral waters!

One the easiest ways to swap your forever loved perfume that is a part of your everyday routine to something that is less harmful to the body, is simply using a natural fragrance brand. After using essential oil rollers for a while, when we found Vanessa Megan’s fragrance line a few years ago, we were immediately sold. And now, we are so honoured to be selling it in store at Tsavo Wellness.

Vanessa Megan marries luxury with conscientious choices. This Australian brand is committed to organic and sustainable practices, crafted fragrances that are 100% natural, using botanical ingredients and steering clear of harmful phthalates, parabens, and synthetic additives. Come into store today or book an appointment here and have a smell of these fragrances whilst you’re in! Otherwise, check out Vanessa Megan’s site here! 


Written by Abbey Farrell (Naturopath – BHSc)