Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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Quels sont les dangers des eaux de parfums ?

Does My Perfume Hide Any Dangers?

Eau de parfum is a composition containing 15 to 20% aromatic extracts, diluted in 80 to 75% alcohol at 70 or 90°. Concentrated, it has a long-lasting hold of 6 to 8 hours. This means it can be used daily, without the need to spray an extra dose throughout the day. Are perfumes bad for you? Generally not. There are, however, a few precautions to bear in mind when using it. Focus on the potential perfume dangers.

What Harmful Compounds Can Eau de Parfum Contain?

Are perfumes bad for you? Generally spoken, no. However, the use of eau de parfum is not without danger. A sensation of discomfort may be experienced, due to the presence of one or more of the following ingredients.

  • Phthalates, including DEP, diethyl phthalate

Phthalates are colorless, slightly volatile liquid substances. Originally, these ingredients were used as plasticizers in plastic materials, notably polyvinyl chloride (PVC), to make them more flexible. In cosmetics, they were mainly used for their fixing and film-forming properties. Nevertheless, recognized as endocrine disruptors, most of them were banned from cosmetic formulas by the European Union in 2013. Only dimethyl phthalate (DEP) remains authorized: this ingredient is multifunctional (solvent, perfume agent, film-former, hair conditioner). In eau de parfum, DEP is used to fix and prolong scents. Nevertheless, it remains an endocrine disruptor suspected by ANSES (National Health and Food Safety Agency).

  • BHT and BHA

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and its associated compound butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are phenolic species with antioxidant properties. They protect the unsaturated fats in eau de parfum from oxidation phenomena that may occur on contact with air. In this way, they extend the shelf life of eaux de parfum. Studies on these active ingredients are still ongoing. However, some have already revealed that, when applied to the skin, BHA and BHT are sensitizing, and can lead to allergic reactions. In addition, they can modify the hormonal system, stimulating the female sex hormone estrogen and inhibiting the expression of male sex hormones. This disruption could have deleterious effects on reproduction.

  • Azo dyes

Potential allergens, skin, and eye irritants and suspected carcinogens (aromatic amine releasers), these elements are best avoided in eau de parfum! They are listed under the following names:  CI 1914 (yellow dye), CI 15850 (red dye), CI 15985 (yellow dye), CI 17200 (red dye), CI 16035 (red dye), CI 15880 (red dye), CI 12085 (red dye), CI 16255 (red dye), CI 15510 (orange dye), CI 11680 (yellow dye), CI 16185 (red dye), CI 12490 (red dye), CI 18050 (red dye), CI 18965 (yellow dye), CI 13015 (yellow dye), CI 20470 (black dye), CI 12700 (yellow dye), CI 15865 (red dye), CI 11710 (yellow dye), CI 21108 (yellow dye), CI 21100 (yellow dye), CI 12370 (red dye), CI 14700 (red dye), CI 14720 (red dye).

  • Chemical sunscreens

These are used in eaux de parfum to protect them from damage caused by the sun's UV rays. Controversial ingredients include avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789, Eusolex 9020 or Escalol 517), octocrylene, oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), PABA (para-amonibenzoic acid) and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC).

Unfortunately, brands are under no obligation to display ingredient lists, as perfume formulas are still considered trade secrets.

Why Can My Perfume Give Me a Headache?

If you get a headache when you smell a perfume, it's not related to a poison or an allergy. It's either a fear of certain smells, commonly known as osmophobia, or hypersensitivity to specific chemicals.

  • Osmophobia is actually linked to a disorder called hyperosmia (heightened sensitivity to odors). The scents are so strong that they become unbearable, triggering headaches in the worst cases. On a biological level, odors stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which, when inflamed, causes migraines. Some scents can even cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate or narrow, leading to headaches.

  • Multiple chemical hypersensitivity (MCS) is a disorder discovered by American allergist Theron G. Randolph in the 1950s. Those affected are extremely sensitive to the inhalation of certain volatile organic compounds, even if their concentration is much lower than the general toxicity threshold. MCS is included in the WHO's International Classification of Diseases and recognized as a disabling condition in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Spain, Japan and, above all, the USA and Canada. However, it is not officially recognized in France.

Precautions When Using Eau de Parfum.

A few precautions must be taken before using eau de parfum. It is applied directly to the skin, by spraying on pulsating areas such as the wrists and neck. The skin's natural heat will warm it, and the eau de parfum will diffuse all the subtleties of its fragrance.

The alcohol in eau de parfum can irritate sensitive skin. In this case, avoid applying it directly to the skin, and use it instead on clothing. To avoid the risk of skin dryness caused by alcohol, eau de parfum generally contains glycerine. Glycerine attenuates the effect of alcohol while enhancing the scent of the fragrant essences in eau de parfum.

It is strictly forbidden to apply eau de parfum before sun exposure. Certain fragrance molecules used in eau de parfum can be photosensitizing. These odorants are often extracted from plants and essential oils. There is therefore a risk of skin reactions when exposed to the sun. Before going out in the sun, it's best to spray eau de parfum on clothing.

Should I choose a natural eau de parfum as my perfume so that it does not contain any toxic synthetic substances? Yes, that would be better because, unless you have allergies, natural ingredients are better tolerated by the skin.

Sources :

  • SCHETTLER T. Human exposure to phtalates via consumer products, International Journal of Andrology (2006).

  • BYUNG-MU L. Risk assessment of unintentional phthalates contaminants in cosmetics. Regulary Toxicology and Pharmacology (2020).

  • LANIGAN R. S. & YAMARIK T. A. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of BHT. International Journal of Toxicology (2002).

  • YOSHINO S. Enhancement of allergic responses in vivo and in vitro by butylated hydroxytoluene. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (2007).

  • Study on Enhancing the Endocrine Disrupter Priority List with a Focus on Low Production Volume Chemicals, Revised Report to DG Environment, DHI Water and Environment, (2007).

Potentiellement dangereuses, maux de tête, lait maternel, système nerveux central, phtalates et des muscs, eaux de toilette, produits parfumés, long terme, produits chimiques, huiles essentielles, muscs synthétiques, dangereuses pour la santé, composés organiques volatils, odeur agréable.

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