Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Perfume Bad For You?

Also Known As: parfum



Short answer

Unfortunately, perfume contains many toxic ingredients that are bad for your health.



Long answer

Many people choose to put on a spritz of perfume before heading out for the day. It has been a standard move for centuries, and its use can be traced back as far as the ancient Egyptians. But unfortunately, and unbeknownst to many, that one spritz is loaded with chemicals that can affect not only you, but those around you as well.

It is typically marketed as an easy way to up your appeal, but what perfume companies don’t want you to know is that it can easily do the opposite. Allergic reactions are common in many people when confronted with the myriad of chemicals hiding in a perfume. Just being in proximity to someone wearing it can trigger asthma attacks, sneezing, coughing, headaches and migraines, which is probably not the reaction you hoped for.

For the perfume wearer, the effects may actually be worse. On the list of ingredients is generally an umbrella word for any thousands of chemicals allowed to be hidden from the public due to trade secret laws: “fragrance”. Many of these, including one diethyl phthalate, have been shown to disrupt the hormones of the wearer. For males, this can range from developmental disorders in newborn boys (when used on the pregnant mother) to low sperm motility in adults. For females, this is potentially connected to increased breast cancer risk and polycystic ovarian syndrome. With this knowledge, it might finally be time to send perfume into retirement. It had a good run!

Possible short-term side effects

  • sneezing and coughing
  • skin rashes and irritation
  • headaches
  • asthma attacks

Possible long-term side effects

  • low sperm motility
  • newborn developmental disorders
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • breast cancer

Ingredients to be aware of

  • "fragrance" diethyl phthalate


  • smells great
  • convenient

Healthier alternatives

  • essential oils

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Lindsay
Published on: 12-29-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Lindsay
Published on: 12-29-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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