The Scary Ingredient in Personal Care that Expecting Moms Should Avoid

If you are or are the partner of a soon to be mom, then first off, major congratulations! But we also have a bit of a PSA for you. In addition to sushi, deli meat, and alcohol, there’s one more thing to add to the list of things to avoid- Fragrance. We know it might sound crazy, but this is really important. Fragrance- specifically synthetic fragrance, not essential oils- can be extremely dangerous, especially for expecting moms.

The Truth About Synthetic Fragrance

When you look at a product’s ingredients list and see “fragrance,” "aroma," or “parfum,” what you might not realize is that that one word can stand for hundreds of different ingredients. The FDA recognizes fragrance as a “trade secret,” which means that companies are not required to state what actually goes into that overall fragrance.

Curious as to what exactly was being left out of the ingredients list, the Environmental Working Group analyzed 17 name brand fragrances, including brands like Chanel Coco, Giorgio Armani Aqua Di Gio, and Jennifer Lopez J. Lo Glow. On average, they found 14 ingredients per product that were not listed on the ingredients label.

Not Good for Baby

The scary thing? Just how bad those unlisted ingredients can be. On average, the EWG found that 4 ingredients per product are known hormone disrupters. In Halle by Halle Berry, Quicksilver, and Jennifer Lopez J. Lo Glow, 6 of the chemicals actually mimic the hormone estrogen while the 7th impacts your thyroid function.

Also noteworthy are the 2 musks that showed up in the majority of the analyzed fragrances. In another, separate, study, the EWG found these 2 synthetic musks in the cord blood of newborn babies. 

Finally, one of the worst ingredients found in 12 of the 17 products is diethyl phthalate (DEP). DEP has been linked to abnormal reproductive organ development in baby boys as well as sperm damage in adult men. Research has also shown a link between prenatal exposure to DEP and clinically diagnosed ADD in children. 

There Are Better Options

The bad news is that fragrance shows up in in so many products, from home cleaners, to laundry detergents, to personal care products. The good news? There are more and more brands actively steering clear of it. We really like Honest Company's house cleaners and laundry detergents, which use essential oils rather than fragrance. And or course, every product in Alder New York’s skincare and haircare line is synthetic fragrance free. So while it may take a little bit more work to find them, synthetic fragrance free products are out there, and they're way better for you and your soon to be baby.


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