A major loophole in federal law allows fragrance manufacturers to hide potentially hazardous chemicals in product scents, including substances linked to allergies, birth defects, and even cancer. Because they won't tell you what's in the scents they sell you, we combed through thousands of Valentine's Day gift ideas to bring you products that not only smell great, but that are also free of hidden, potentially hazardous fragrances.
Buy Your Sweetheart
"Fragrance" = "Hidden Chemicals"
Take a quick look at a personal care product label, and you'll nearly always find a long list of chemical ingredients in tiny print. Chances are, somewhere in the midst of these technical chemical terms, is the simple word "fragrance." Although companies are required by law to list all chemicals ingredients in a product, a special loophole allows them to hide what's in the "fragrance" component. And what's hidden in that simple word can include complex mixtures of up to hundreds of chemicals that studies show may be linked to a variety of health problems, including allergies, skin reactions, endocrine/hormone disruption, and possibly even birth defects. Companies are not required to test cosmetics for safety before they are sold. The label is the primary protection we have to make decisions about products we rub, pour, and lather on our skin and hair. Yet when it comes to fragrances, we don't even have this simple protection.
Who makes sure fragrances are safe?
The FDA, the agency responsible for overseeing product safety, does not systematically review the safety of fragrances. The FDA cannot require that fragrances be tested for safety before they are sold. Instead, the fragrance industry regulates itself, through their trade association, the International Fragrance Association, which funds and conducts safety assessments for fragrance ingredients. This self-regulating scheme has led to the widespread use of chemicals in fragrances that raise concerns when it comes to our health:.
Top hazards hidden in fragranced products:
We recommend that you choose products free of fragrance for your Valentine's sweetheart. But read ingredient labels carefully — the term "fragrance-free" on a product does not necessarily mean a product is actually free of fragrance chemicals. Instead, a fragrance may be masking a chemical scent to create an illusion of fragrance free. But better yet, use EWG's guide for fragrance-free products for easy Valentine's shopping.
How We Made the List
To compile this list, EWG's researchers searched not only our own toxicity and product ingredient databases, but also searched the most current literature for toxicity concerns surrounding the ingredients in these 10 products. All of the products on the list are ranked as green, or safer choices on the Skin Deep website. While some of these products may contain some ingredients not yet assessed for safety, all the ingredients in these products are listed on the labels and none contain secret ingredients hidden in fragrances.
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