14 Dec 3 Reasons to Avoid Gifting Scented Products This Year
How are menopause and scented holiday gifts related? For one thing, they both affect your hormones. It just might not be in the way that you think.
Holidays are the season for giving, and scented gifts are very popular for women. For instance, that raspberry bath bomb you forgot to use before it crumbled, or the cucumber melon body spray your teen daughter “borrowed” months ago. Though these gifts are typically intended as a self-care reminder, they may actually be harmful – especially as women of menopause age.
Here’s what you need to know about scented products and three reasons why you should find an alternative gift this year.
What’s in scented products?
Scented products are made to have a particular fragrance. Fragrances are frequently added to personal care products, like shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics, body washes, hand soaps, deodorants, and lotions. They’re also found in many household items, like candles, cleaners, and detergents.
What makes scented products smell? The average fragrance contains anywhere between 100 and 350 chemical ingredients. That’s right. It takes a grand science experiment to create what seems like a simple aroma.
Are scents harmful?
Industrial chemical exposure can have detrimental health effects, so it’s important to be aware of what’s behind a specific scent. Scented gifts like body sprays and room deodorizers give off vapors that are easily ingested. The volatile organic compounds in vapors attach themselves to clothing, hair, and pretty much everything else nearby.
But that’s not the only reason to avoid them, during menopause or any time.
3 reasons to avoid scented products
1. The chemicals used in scented products go more than skin deep.
Scent chemicals can cause headaches, nausea, and loss of coordination. They can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, triggering asthma attacks and aggravating sinuses. One chemical used to bind and make scents last longer is diethyl phthalate. It’s also known to cause contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction making your skin red and itchy.
Diethyl phthalate and many other fragrance chemicals are also reproductive toxins. This means they can interrupt normal reproductive or sexual function. Some are endocrine disruptors, which can trick your body into thinking they’re hormones and prevent actual hormones from doing their job (probably not another side effect you want during menopause). Your body does what it can to rid itself of toxins, but some of them linger and even build up in tissues, creating problems later on. Women with high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their blood are more likely to start menopause an average of 2 to 4 years earlier than those with low levels.
Many scent chemicals are also derived from petroleum, which is classified as xenoestrogens (can produce estrogenic effects), can block and suffocate pores, and may even be carcinogenic.
2. You never truly know all of the chemicals hidden in a product.
The term “fragrance” is a bit like the label claim “all natural”. It indicates proprietary ingredients, isn’t a regulated term, and doesn’t tell you anything about what it is. Companies can hide questionable ingredients behind this verbiage, preventing consumers from thinking twice about it.
3. Scented gifts unnecessarily add to an already large daily toxin exposure.
It’s estimated that women are voluntarily exposed to over 168 chemicals on a daily basis. What’s more shocking is that this exposure comes through the use of only 12 products on average. Gifting others more scented products, unfortunately, contributes to this problem.
What are some alternative ways to gift safe scents?
Your first thought might be to purchase products labeled “fragrance-free.” Though some may use fewer ingredients than scented products, they can still contain fragrances used to mask other smells.
A better idea would be to gift truly natural or homemade products. Scents created with essential oils make fabulous presents. Scrubs and bath salts are a cinch to make. Household cleaners and detergents can be made using a few inexpensive natural ingredients like baking soda, Castile soap, water, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar. Natural air fresheners can be produced using essential oils.
No time or interest to make your own products? Alternatively, you can look for safer commercial products. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great place to look for products with ingredients that have been evaluated by experts for safety. This includes cosmetics, sunscreens, lotions, and other products that make great holiday gifts.
For more information about how to reduce your exposure to personal toxins, join us at Lisa Health!