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Your favourite perfume could have ‘more than 100 toxic ingredients’; here’s how they can affect health

"Since the skin is abundant and has a rich nerve and vascular (blood) system, certain cosmetics and cosmeceuticals can get absorbed," said Dr Smriti Naswa Singh

perfumesCan perfumes cause harm? (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Do you ever get hives, blisters, allergies, and sometimes even nausea after applying your favourite perfume? If the answer to that question is a yes, you may want to re-think before using fragrances next. That is because, fragrances have “more than 100 toxic ingredients” that can lead to various allergies and other serious complications, according to Ayurvedic expert Dr Aparna Padmanabhan.

“Your expensive, exotic-smelling perfume with the word ‘fragrance/parfum’, can hide a cocktail of more than 100 toxic ingredients. Perfumes, colognes, room fresheners, fabric fresheners, deodorants, and aftershaves could cost your health,” she captioned her Instagram post.

As such, one needs to be careful about “respiratory sanitisers that trigger allergies, wheezing, or asthma; hormone sensitisers that throw your endocrine system off balance; secret ingredients that are harmful to your reproductive system when they build up in your body over time,” she added, as she listed some ingredients to avoid — phthalates, styrene, galaxolide ketone, musk ketones, ethylene glycol, acetaldehyde, and oxybenzone.



We understand more, we reached out to some experts. Find out what they had to say:

“Skin is the body’s largest organ that comes in contact with the environment. Since the skin is abundant and has a rich nerve and vascular (blood) system, certain cosmetics and cosmeceuticals can get absorbed. In such a scenario, perfumes are no exception,” Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, consultant dermatologist and cosmetic dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund told

Dr Smriti explained two significant ways in which they impact health

*The fragrance, colour, or preservative of perfumes can cause sneezing, wheezing, or urticaria (wheals) in a person if they are allergic to any ingredients. This means those with an allergy or a personal or family history of asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, eczema, urticaria, or sensitive skin should refrain from using perfumes. If they want to use fragrances or cosmetics, they should do a test patch behind their ears and see if any allergies develop in 48 hours.


*There is a neural-immune-hormonal axis which gets disrupted by certain ingredients in cosmetics, including perfumes. These agents are called endocrine disruptors and are responsible for causing excess estrogen in the body, increasing inflammation and aromatase upregulation, among other conditions, she explained. “Further, endocrine disruptors can cause hormonal havoc in the body and are associated with various issues like delayed periods in polycystic ovaries (PCOS), hirsutism, stubborn acne post-30s (adult acne), early hereditary balding, acanthosis nigricans (insulin resistance), diabetes, and hormonal cancers among others,” she noted.

Dr Monika Singh, assistant professor (Department of OBGY), Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences agreed and said that perfumes can be harmful as most of them contain triclosan (TCS) – a chlorinated aromatic compound. “It is widely used in personal care as well as household products such as perfumed soaps, shampoo, toothpaste and liquid disinfectants,” Dr Monika told in an earlier interaction.

“Evidence from animal and in vitro studies suggested a variety of hormonal activities of TCS, including oestrogenic, androgenic and antiandrogenic activities, and disturbance of thyroid hormone activities, all of which are related to PCOS-like syndrome,” said Dr Monika.


However, according to Ayurveda, not all perfumes are harmful, said Dr Smita Naram, co-founder, Ayushakti. “It also depends on the person’s dosha. In the past, perfumes were made from herbs, plant extract, and essential oils, but today they are mostly chemically infused and derived from crude or turpentine oils. Basically, this is what you’re spraying on your skin! Instead, you can try using aroma oils which can boost your calm and relaxing energy, soothe strain, and soothe stress, by pleasing your senses and balancing your Doshas,” Dr Smita told, adding that one should always choose scent over perfume.

“If you want to be hundred per cent sure (and don’t want to do the research work), look for a label that lists the essential oils and herbs used to scent the product, or go for fragrance-free perfumes,” mentioned Dr Smita.

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First published on: 20-10-2022 at 10:50 IST
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