What is a Fragrance? Is it toxic?

Fragrance – is it really the stuff that makes everything smell like roses?  I wish.  Unfortunately, it has become a word within the ingredient list that companies can use to hide toxic substances from consumers.  What is even more unfortunate is that “fragrance” is in everything.   Grab a few items from your house and see how many say “fragrance, perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, or aroma.”  

So, what is a “fragrance?”  It is a word on an ingredient list that can be made up of any number of over 3,000 undisclosed chemicals, many of which are toxic to our health. 

How is this allowed?!  

We live in America, right?!  I know!  I had the same question.  Don’t worry I found the answer.  In 1966, a loophole was created in the Fair Packaging and Labeling act to protect companies from having their scents stolen or reproduced.  So, if a company considers an ingredient to be part of their trade secret scent OR a scent stabilizer, they don’t have to disclose.  See, it makes perfect sense – protecting a scent recipe is way more important than you or I knowing your baby’s soap has neurotoxic components or your make-up is made-up of hormone disruptors.  Now might be a good time to mention that sarcasm is my love language 🙂

I wish I were done, but it gets worse.  I wish I could just tell you to avoid products that include those fragrance buzzwords in their ingredient list.  However, the deceitfulness goes deeper.  I’ll let the FDA explain:  “Even some products labeled “unscented” may contain fragrance ingredients. This is because the manufacturer may add just enough fragrance to mask the unpleasant smell of other ingredients, without giving the product a noticeable scent.”

According to Medical News Today some of the most common causes of allergic reactions are contact with poison ivy, medications applied to the skin, fragrances in soap, deodorant, shaving cream, jewelry, cosmetics, perfume, and hair dye. Warning, I’m going to get a little scientific on you.  You may be surprised to know that allergic reactions typically occur on the second exposure, not the first.  This is because you must be exposed to something before you can develop an allergy to it.  I could go into more detail about IgE and allergies, but I think you’d rather me not (you’re welcome).  Irritant reactions, on the other hand, occur almost immediately and are most commonly caused by bleach, battery acid, detergent, and other cleaners!  So the Tide you love so much…it’s in the same category as battery acid when it comes to its irritating components.  

You’re probably thinking, wow, I thought this blog was supposed to decrease my anxiety, not heighten it!  The main point of the above information is to show that toxins are everywhere.  You cannot escape them; so, stop trying!  God made our bodies tough and resilient so let’s stop killing ourselves trying to rid our home and family of ALL toxins.  Instead, let’s focus on what we can do to limit our toxic exposure, starting with “fragrance.”  

This is where you have options!  

For one, you could start reading your labels.  Avoid products that contain the word “fragrance, perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, or aroma,” especially if that word is one of the first few ingredients listed.  Also, avoid “unscented” products as that just means it does not have a distinct smell. You could look up each individual ingredient on sites like EWG.org; ORRR, you could let me do the research. All you have to do is decide to trust that I will point you in the right direction in regards to safe and effective products.  

I am by no means infallible in my research, but I promise to do my due diligence in finding less toxic (not necessarily non-toxic) products that work in various budgets.  I aim for safer because I want to balance performance, safety, and price.  And again, we want to limit our exposure but keep our sanity and financial peace.  My goal is not to find products that make your job three times as hard because of their lack of efficacy, nor do I recommend filing for bankruptcy to neutralize your home!

So, what is next? 

In the weeks to come, I will be posting information about various household products that we all use such as laundry detergent, cleaning agents, soaps, make-up, candles, etc.  I will provide information as well as recommend alternate products.  I would love to hear from all of you in the comments below about what products you are currently using.  This will help navigate my future posts.  I will also be posting a list of things you can do for FREE to detox your home. So, be looking for that in the near future.  I will keep the free list easily accessible under the “Resources” tab up top and add to it as I discover new free detox tips.  

I hope that you are excited about going on this detoxing journey with me!  And remember, FIRST love Jesus THEN just do you best.  That is always enough.

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Heidi Written by:


  1. Lora
    September 2, 2019

    I randomly checked the first 3 items I saw that I use on a daily basis, and they all have fragrance!

  2. LG
    September 2, 2019

    Sounds great, can’t wait! I am sooooo glad you are doing this. Thanks a bunch! It is hard to k ow and detox. You are going to be a great resource in helping me do better at it!

  3. Bianca Aranda
    September 4, 2019

    Im 100% sure most of my products say “fragrance”. I cant wait for more information so Im able to make cleaner choices.

    • admin
      September 4, 2019

      we are going to tackle the laundry room first! That post will be coming soon 🙂

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