Fragrance has been around for centuries, made up of natural ingredients like myrrh, frankincense and peppermint. It’s only been since the 1920s that perfumers began using synthetic ingredients that mimicked natural ones as a way to produce fragrance more inexpensively and uniformly. For instance, the synthetic chemical aldehyde C10 in Chanel No. 5 smells like oranges. Because the majority of ingredients in modern perfumes are synthetic, perfume brands are able to produce them in labs and claim them as trade secrets, which makes it harder for the consumer to pin down the actual chemical compounds.
Locate and read the ingredients listed on the box. Pay attention to the fragrance oils and chemicals listed. The oils are generally synthetic, but some are essential oils made of concentrated forms of plant and flower extracts. Chemical listings are ingredients such as benzaldehyde, ethanol and ethyl acetate.
Search the chemical names at a site such as http://www.ourlittleplace.com/chemicals.html, which will list their possible side effects. If the fragrance includes natural ingredients also, research them at http://www.naturalcosmeticsupplies.com/perfume-fragrance-ingredients.html.
If you can’t find the ingredient listings on your fragrance, or want to find the possible side effects of the unlisted ingredients, go to http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/index.php, a site that lets you search cosmetics by product name and includes both ingredients as well as a toxicity rating.
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