An Ode To Our Olefactory System
Sneezer, smeller, sniffer, snotter, snuffer or schnoze; snubbed or pointy, dear lovely nose how we love you so. An information inferring machine that, with barely a flare of the nostril, can lead us from garage to kitchen on the waft-and-promise of home cooking. You can detect the slightest dab of perfume on a wrist, or the powdery fresh deodorant application during a snuggle. We rely on your keen sense for protection: fresh paint? Don’t touch! Dirty diaper? His turn. Mildew? Time to investigate. The list goes on. Plywood to photocopiers, new couches to new cars. You are constantly sniffing around, and thank goodness, because there is a heck of a difference between old soured milk and a freshly poured glass. Honestly, our taste buds prefer the nose does it's job first.
Fragrance is part of the beautiful human experience. Recently, the fragrance experience has twisted into human deception.
Welcome to the Fragrance Revolution! Révolution de parfum!
What We Need To Know
The Savvy Path blog takes one topic a month and explores what we need to know and what we can do. Last month we explored 'BPA.' This month? Fragrance. Ready for the basics?
ONE Did you catch yourself saying, “Nope, this topic is not for me, I don’t use perfume.”? ‘Fragrance’ as we refer to it encompasses much more than perfume or cologne. Okay dirty socks don’t count. But dryer sheets and laundry detergent? Yep. Shampoo and deodorant? Yep. Is and what is making your car smelly so vanilla-y?
For the next three weeks, let your nose guide the way and observe how many places we encounter fragrance.
TWO The F-word (fragrance) is used on labels of cleaning products and personal care products, but isn't a single ingredient. The term is a catch-all phrase for mixtures that can be created from over 3000 chemicals. This leaves us with the inability to know, understand or make a responsible decision. Our generation is in a limbo zone. Before we can protect our health from harmful exposures, and they do exist (read further) we have to demand our right to know. We are asking for transparency and safety.
THREE From Sacramento to Washington D.C., the topic of fragrance is becoming THE topic of 2016. We want you to be Savvy about the topic, as you and your friends will be hearing more and more about this. It is being discussed often. By advocates, CEOs, councils, lobbyists and elected officials. Our founder, Kristi, just returned from presenting at briefing in the Senate House – fighting for transparency and safety on future personal care product legislation, with a specific focus on fragrance.
A Little Dab on What We Are Trying to Avoid:
Common fragrance ingredients we would like to reduce our exposure to can include:
- Phthalates (pronounced tha-lates) have an active history and reach broadly into everyday living. They are hormone disruptors linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer, feminization of male wildlife and, in more and more studies, genital defects in baby boys - yikes;
- Synthetic musks (these are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, buildup in our bodies, and a breakdown our cells’ defenses against other toxic chemicals);
- And known allergens.The European Union currently requires the disclosure of 26 common fragrance allergens on products – but in the U.S. we don’t have the right to know that these are in the products we purchase.
This is a gateway toxin term to understanding the big picture of our imperfect world: without clear labeling, we cannot fully decide for ourselves. Our right to know and understand is right worth fighting for, so until we know exactly what’s in fragranced products, it’s a good idea to reduce your exposure to fragrance wherever you can.
Wait - Before You Start Flipping Labels...
Fragrance-Free One option is to start replacing products with its fragrance-free counterpart. As you run out of a product, sniff around and to see if you can find a fragrance-free counterpart. Fragrance-free products shouldn’t contain synthetic fragrances. A double check is for the phrase : fragrance-free or free and clear, or free of perfumes on the product's marketing, and no trace of the words fragrance, perfume or parfum in the ingredients.
Bonus: Doesn't impact your pocketbook, but your pocketbook does impact a company's future decisions.
Unscented Unscented may, or may not, use a fragrance to cover a scent to create a non-scent.It may, or may not, be helpful. (That is what we call nonsense.)
Essential Oils “Fragranced with essential oils” is generally a little safer decision than just “fragrance” because it’s less likely to hide toxic synthetic chemicals. Some people can be allergic to certain essential oils. We understand that 'generally' is not helpful, but we want you to recognized the meaning behind these terms.
Au Natural As for natural, or nontoxic, we have to be buyer beware. Unless you understand the company’s mission, some companies can use these terms misleadingly. We wish it wasn’t true, but it happens.
What is Next?
This is heavy topic unfolding here in our generation. At Savvy, we believe that the truest change happens when we do this together. That is why Savvy's core feature is our chapters. Would like to learn a little bit more about Savvy Chapters?
Maybe its a good thing we don't have scratch-n-sniff screens. Our imaginations can do the work for us.