I dread having to go into Abercrombie & Fitch because of the ghastly smell. It makes me feel nauseous and dizzy – and I now know why! Most synthetic perfumes are choc full of chemicals that are neurotoxins. The side effect of inhaling these chemicals can be headaches. dizziness, nausea, memory loss. It depends on how sensitive you are to chemicals, and as I’ve got older, I’ve become more and more sensitive. That said, my 11 year-old daughter, whose not averse to a trip to Abercrombie, is very sensitive too. As much as she wants to rail against everything I deem to be true right now, she grudgingly admits that spending time in the aforementioned store makes her feel sick.
It’s not just Abercrombie – those synthetic scents are all over the place. Now we’re heading into Fall, watch out for the fake pumpkin smells wafting out of bath and body stores – yuck! We’re talking specifically here about a class of chemicals called phthalates. Unfortunately these chemicals are a part of modern-day life and very hard to avoid. The effects of exposure can include hormone disruption, reduced sperm counts, birth defects, and even cancer.
Phthalates are softeners or plasticizers in PVC (AKA vinyl products). They are found in 100′s of products including nail polish, shower curtains, toys, insecticides,perfumes, paint, wall paper and hair gel. They are also found in the vinyl coating in cars, and produce that “new car” smell. Funnily enough, I recently purchased a new Prius and my daughter can’t stand the smell – says it makes her feel nauseous! Phthalates are ‘fixers’ in perfumes, making the scent strong and last a long time – have you ever got into an elevator long after a heavily perfumed woman has stepped out? That would be phthalates wafting up your nose!
So, how can we tell if our everyday products contain phthalates? Not so easy – it’s actually really hard to tell because they are not listed in any ingredient list. Here’s how to stay away as best you can:
1. Avoid anything with “Fragrance” in it (regular perfume, air fresheners, synthetically scented candles and skincare/cosmetics). The term “fragrance” on an ingredient label should be treated suspiciously because it is a trade term loophole (created for the personal care industry to protect trade secrets,) that hides up to 150 chemicals. Make sure the products listed above either unscented or scented with pure essential oils).
2. Look for toys that are labeled “phthalate-free” or check the toy listing on Healthy Stuff.
3. Avoid the following in ingredient lists: DBP, BzBP, and DMP
4. Check out personal care products in my “Gorgeous Finds” section, because I try to only review and promote products that are phthalate-free.
5. Avoid plastic products as much as you can. For example, switch all your food storage containers to glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.