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What is it?

“Synthetic musks, known as white musks in the perfume industry, are a class of synthetic aroma chemicals to emulate the scent of deer musk or other natural musk.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Numerous studies on synthetic musk fragrance compounds, such as polycyclic musks, have shown them to be anti-estrogenic or interact with the estrogen receptor, thus causing endocrine disruption.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund) have gathered studies showing that synthetic musks bioaccumulate in the environment, are toxic for reproduction, disrupt cell functioning and hormone systems. The chemicals are only partly biodegradable and are therefore spread everywhere in our environment, in water, drinking water, soil, air, and in living species, such as in seafood and in the bodies of humans all around the world. Musk xylene is on their Red List*.

One of the synthetic musks, musk xylene, is identified as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Musk ketone and tonalide are restricted in the EU but not in the US.

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

White / synthetic musks are widely used as fragrance and solvent ingredients in cosmetics⋆ and cleaning products. In modern perfumery, the majority of musk perfumes are based on synthetic musk’s. The chemicals are used in all kinds of other product fragrances, such as detergents, air fresheners, colognes, scented soaps, body washes, and hair products.

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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Read about the other ingredients.