Whether it is the genetic makeup or environmental factors that make women prone to specific types of allergies, one thing is for sure that women are particularly more allergic to perfumes than men. Components used in perfumes and cosmetics account for nearly 30% of all allergy related issues in women.
Considering the fact that today’s society is extra conscious about the food and cosmetic products used, it is amazing to see that perfumes and fragrances do not observe the same vigilance. This is not exactly the fault of society because unlike food or cosmetic industry where ingredients have to be clearly spelled out on the packaging, scents and perfumes are protected by secrecy acts to ensure that each formulation remains copyrighted. Although ignorance ensures that women get a healthy selection of perfumes to choose from, studies have shown that nearly 74% of all women develop an allergic reaction to one or many perfumes some time in their entire lifetime.
Maybe, increasing allergic reactions to perfumes are the reason why so many women are today in search of organic scents rather than popular synthetic mixtures. However, before diving deep into eco-friendly waters, beware that organic in the perfume industry does not really mean it is free of synthetic compounds. The reason for such blatant mislabeling is slack regulations defining the term organic in the perfume industry.
The majority of perfume makers who want to draw in more customers simply add in eco-friendly sounding words and combine organic oils with synthetic compounds to decrease concentration of synthetic chemicals. This practice is specifically called greenwashing in the perfume industry and it works quite well because women seldom care whether a perfume really does contain 100% organic compounds or not as long as it says organic on the label. Not only are many of the ingredients used in perfumes known allergens and irritants but also organic pollutants. For example, synthetic musk is a detectable pollutant for riverbeds and aquatic life. Unfortunately, without such strong synthetic compounds, achieving a unique and strong scent is almost impossible.
Among the many fragrance families, floral mixtures are mostly preferred by women but the problem with natural floral perfumes is that the smell fades off almost immediately. To add a higher first smell or overtone, perfume makers add in slight synthetic floral chemicals making them unusable by allergic women. Experts of the perfume industry retaliate saying that other than citrus undertones and colognes, all other fully organic fragrances fade rather quickly. Vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, are only capable of providing the body, but they cannot produce the strong smells common with synthetic compounds.
Thankfully, to combat increasing perfume allergy among women, many new generation of perfumers are coming out with fully organic scents creating these concoctions from zero synthetic chemicals. They range from floral to earthy odors and can be purchased online or in select stores all over the world. Obviously these mixtures are costlier than usual brands or designer labels but for those with acute allergic reactions to perfumes, they are a lifesaver.
Monika Robertson is currently working for the Danish company Neutral.Her latests projects include topics about perfume allergy in women or also known in Danish as Parfumeallergi hos kvinder.