Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Cologne Bad For You?

Also Known As: Eau de Cologne



Short answer

Cologne is bad for you. Smelling good to attract the opposite sex, or just smelling good to make yourself feel confident, is not worth the price you pay by putting poisons in and on your body.



Long answer

That cologne you have on may have you feeling like God’s gift to women/men, but it may also be adversely affecting your health, too. Although most ingredients are kept trade secrets, all colognes are made up of some 400 ingredients, of which, ten are potentially toxic. As with all substances, these chemicals have the possibility of triggering an allergic response.

The most likely contradiction to your body is nose-like seasonal allergy symptoms. Even if you are not personally allergic to the fragrance, it may cause distress in others. The other type occurs as a response to skin contact – a red, itchy rash called contact dermatitis. Other symptoms from exposure to these irritants could include: headaches, wheezing, tightness in the chest, worsening of asthma symptoms, and sneezing.

People who have asthma and seasonal allergies are more sensitive to the irritants found in colognes and perfumes. They can experience a worsening of their symptoms when exposed to these fragrances, although there currently has been no direct link found between fragrance sensitivity and asthma. There are believed to be around fifty million Americans who are dealing with allergies and asthma. With so many different colognes on the market, there is an increase in exposure to fragrances contaminants in the air, and more people experiencing sensitivity to them.

There are “safe” zones from overwhelming cologne fragrances and the best suggestion for people who experience sensitivities, is to avoid tight spaces that may contain large quantities of colognes, like night clubs. Places like this are typically packed with people trying to woo’ the opposite sex and this atmosphere is often inundated with seemingly desirable fragrances—including those who like to douse themselves in strong fragrance.

According to the American Contact Dermatitis Society, fragrance was named as “the skin contact allergen of the year in 2007”. There are over five-thousand fragrances used in perfumes, colognes, and common skin care products, and most products use a combination of scents. Allergic contact dermatitis symptoms occur when an individual with sensitivities applies a product containing a combination of fragrances or chemicals that are irritants. Intense redness and swelling can occur within a few hours at the site of contact, or a rash may become visible after twenty-four to forty-eight hours. The symptoms are usually concentrated on the face, arms and hands, the most likely site of product application. Occasionally, dry skin and itchiness occur from exposure.

Aside from the effects on the respiratory system and skin, the chemicals contained in colognes can be far more hazardous to the wellness of the human body. There are compounds like acetone, camphor, and methylene chloride that portray symptoms such as, dizziness, convulsions and even have the possibility to induce comas. Along with the three compounds listed here, there are at least seven other chemicals within these products that are considered to be hazardous substances. They too, have the potential to cause great harm to the body and mind.

The consumer should be advised that the fragrance manufacturers in the United States do not have to disclose to the public the actual chemical make-up of the colognes and perfumes because they are covered by law under trade secret proprietary laws. Furthermore, use caution when applying these cologne products to your body and clothes. One concern to consider is that even if you these allergens do not have an effect on you, they can be very toxic to those around you. There are several non-toxic natural scents created from essential oils and fruit extracts. These are available in the form of lotion, sprays, and soaps and can be found at most stores that sell organic/natural items. Though it is possible for some people to have allergens related to any fragrance at all, including natural scents, these are much less dangerous to those wearing the fragrance and the people who come in contact with them.

Possible short-term side effects

  • abdominal pain
  • confusion
  • convulsions
  • coughing
  • drop in blood pressure
  • drowsiness
  • eye irritation
  • headaches
  • impaired vision
  • muscle twitching
  • nausea
  • rash
  • skin irritation
  • sneezing
  • swelling at application spot
  • tightness in the chest
  • wheezing

Possible long-term side effects

  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • kidney damage
  • cancer
  • depression
  • central nervous system disorders

Ingredients to be aware of

  • acetone
  • benzaldehyde
  • benzyl acetate
  • benzyl alcohol
  • camphor
  • ethanol
  • ethyl acetate
  • limonene
  • linalool
  • methylene chloride

Healthier alternatives

  • organic essential oils with organic lotions or sprays
  • organic soaps with scented organic oils
  • fragrances created from organic essential oils or fruit extracts
  • non-toxic colognes / perfumes from stores that feature all natural/organic products

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 04-09-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 04-09-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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