Fragrance Dangers: Fact Versus Fiction

A campaign called, “Fragrance is the New Second Hand Smoke” is striking fear in many consumers. Fragrance dangers are important to consider but does it mean all fragrances are bad?

fragrance dangers

Analyze the Campaign

A careful analysis of this campaign is necessary. Please note: the primary concern of this campaign are fragrances that contain phthlates. Though some articles site other chemicals of concern as well. Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastics and make them more pliable. They find their way into many fragrances.

Analyze the Soap Company

But, not OUR fragrances. We carefully select and analyze fragrances making sure they do not contain harmful chemicals like phthlates. Why? Think about it. I pass on a 4 ounce bar of soap to you with a smidgen of fragrance. But, I am crafting larger batches which require me to use a significant amount of fragrance and essential oils. Further, we are in and around the cure room constantly. Granted, I love making soap but I am not willing to suffer harm making it. I chose not to use phthlates because I value my health and yours too.

Make Sure They Analyze Their Fragrances

Many articles assert that the fragrance industry is NOT regulated. This enhances fragrance dangers as a result. That is far from the truth. Not many industries escape regulations.  Try starting your own aroma chemical company and you will see the complexity of regulations including some from the European Union.   Fragrance companies are required to publish Safety Data Sheets and Technical Data. On those sheets there is a chemical breakdown. Soap and cosmetic makers should have these data sheets on file.

Don’t let the word “chemical” scare you. After all, water is a chemical. For example, here are just a few of the “chemicals” in one of our most popular fragrances:

  • Linalool
  • Geranyl acetate
  • Ethyl maltol

Yikes! That looks toxic for sure. However, take a closer look.

What is Linalool?

According to Bubble and Bee Organics, Linalool is a component of many essential oils, including orange, lavender, rose, rosewood, and coriander. Also, like limonene, pure linalool has anti-cancer effects. One study by the National Institute of Health, found that “…linalool exhibited comparable IC(50) values to the commercial drug vinblastine on the ACHN cell line” in killing liver cancer cells.

What is Geranyl Acetate?

Geranyl acetate is a natural organic compound that is classified as a monoterpene. It is a colorless liquid with a pleasant floral or fruity rose aroma. Its condensed liquid has a slightly yellow color.

What is Ethyl Maltol?

Ethyl maltol is an organic compound that is a common flavourant in some confectioneries. It is related to the more common flavorant maltol by replacement of the methyl group by an ethyl group. It is a white solid with a sweet smell that can be described as caramelized sugar and cooked fruit.
There are wild names on a fragrance data sheet. But, that doesn’t always mean they are toxic and synthetic. It does mean that chemical names are used in the industry.

Again, I don’t use phthlates because I am concerned about the impact on my health as a maker of bath and body products.

The Generic Label “Fragrance Oil”

So why do most makers only have the word “fragrance oil” on their label? They are hiding something from consumers. Right?

It ain’t necessarily so.

Please don’t confuse the soap and cosmetic industry with the aroma chemical and flavoring industry.  The two are entirely different entities. That is like saying a baker is the flour mill.  The baker uses flour to formulate a signature cookie that becomes  a major source of revenue. Regulatory bodies do not require the baker to reveal the recipe for their cookie.  But, they do list the ingredients.

Some bakers use organic whole wheat flour. Others use bleached white flour.  Still, others use unbleached or even a combination.  Astute bakers will source their ingredients to meet the needs of their target market.  For example, some customers want organic whole wheat stone ground flour.  Other consumers could care less.  It does not mean that neither the flour mill nor the baker are regulated.


The soap and cosmetic industry has a relatively low price point for a start up. That means it is a competitive industry. Makers strive to differentiate themselves often coming up with signature fragrances and custom blend essential oils. Basically, these are like the Colonel’s secret recipe.   We are granted privacy by regulatory agencies to protect trade secret blends. Privacy doesn’t mean we are able to poison you. Many list “fragrance oil” for proprietary reasons. However, that does not mean we are not regulated. In fact, we have standard usage rates and must use fragrances that are skin safe, body safe and lip safe (if making lip balms).

Ask Your Artisan About Fragrance Dangers

If you are concerned that an artisan is using dangerous synthetic chemical fragrances in their soaps, feel free to ask your artisan. Many are happy to share with you the reasons they choose ingredients and how they assure quality and safety.  If they can’t give you an informed answer,  find a new company.

However, please keep in mind assuring you safety and quality doesn’t mean you will find soap makers willing to share their proprietary blends or their supplier’s contact information.  There is a difference between the two questions.

In conclusion, it is important to understand the true fragrance dangers and protect your health. However, you would be missing out on an incredible amount of joy and pleasure if you lump all fragrances in the category of toxic because they have chemical names in the ingredient list.

Disclaimer: We do not claim to cure or heal any disease with our products. The above link is for educational purposes only.

Be sure and check out our essential oil bath and body products.  We also offer phthlate free fragrances in our shop.

Herbal Collection

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