2D structural formula of Acetaldehyde


What is it?

Fragrance in beauty and personal care products could be anything from acetaldehyde, benzophenone or phthalates (commonly diethyl phthalate). To preserve trade secrets, brands and companies do not have to specify which chemicals they use to make their fragrances. It is enough to label it “fragrance”’, “perfume”, “essential oil blend”, “aroma”, or similar in the ingredients list without clarifying what the fragrance actually contains.

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Lack of transparency.
Effects uncertain.

Even though many fragrance compounds are harmless, others are linked cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. The lack of transparency is the reason why fragrance is marked red by Curious Chloride’s scanner. Consumers can not find out which chemicals they are exposed to.

According to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund), there are loopholes in the laws regarding fragrance regulation. The standars are voluntary for chemicals in the “fragrance” components of products in the US, Canada and EU. The result is that the Fragrance industry basically is self-regulating. Current laws means that brands and companies are not required disclosing public safety of fragrance ingredients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) writes that “Fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, and they are the kinds of cosmetic components that are most likely to be ‘trade secrets.'”

The FDA also brings to attention a misconception regarding ‘natural’ and ‘organic’, “Sometimes people think that if an ‘essential oil’ or other ingredient comes from a plant, it must be safe. But many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating, or likely to cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin. For example, cumin oil is safe in food, but can cause the skin to blister. Certain citrus oils used safely in food can also be harmful in cosmetics, particularly when applied to skin exposed to the sun.”

Skin allergies and irritations are common problems observed with fragrance ingredients, according to the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS).

Fragrance, with all its different compositions, was awarded Allergen of the Year in 2007 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

How is it used?

Some kind of fragrance compound is used in most cosmetic* and household products, including soaps, creams, serums, makeup, perfumes, scrubs, laundry detergents, room fresheners, etc. Fragrance is used to hide unpleasant smell, or to give products a specific, pleasant smell.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) writes that more than 2500 fragrance ingredients are used in cosmetic and household products in the EU.

“Even some products labeled “unscented” may contain fragrance ingredients. This is because the manufacturer may add just enough fragrance to mask the unpleasant smell of other ingredients, without giving the product a noticeable scent”, the FDA.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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