Skip to content

Parfum: A Common Skincare Ingredient How Toxic Is it?

We all love having a beautiful scent in our body care products. From perfume, to shampoo and even cosmetics, parfum is hidden everywhere. It makes us feel good and lifts our moods. But how dangerous is it to our wellbeing?

What is “parfum” and what is in it?

“Parfum” otherwise known as “fragrance” is a cocktail of chemicals and ingredients, which are often composed of toxic substances. The ingredients may include hormone disruptors which may lead to infertility, weight gain and acne. Due to the protection of trade laws, many companies do not have to disclose which chemicals are in the fragrances they produce.

Why should you avoid using ingredients using “parfum” ?

As a chemically manufactured scent, parfum helps us feel good due to the pleasant scents replicated that evoke positive thoughts and memories. Though these scents are comforting, they have no functioning purpose. The risk of skin irritation from parfum exposure can lead to allergic reactions which range from redness, burning, dermatitis, itching, swelling and hives.

There are so many products which we use daily that we are unaware have parfum. It can be found in our deodorants, perfume, makeup, haircare products.

How harmful is parfum to our bodies?

According to, women put up to 515 synthetic chemicals on their bodies every day. In 2002, a survey conducted by Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit activist organisation involved with research and advocacy, found that women use an average of 12 products a day, with men using an average of 6 products a day. They also found that:

“One of every five adults are potentially exposed every day to all of the top seven carcinogenic impurities common to personal care product ingredients — hydroquinone, ethylene dioxide, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, nitrosamines, PAHs, and acrylamide. The top most common impurity ranked by number of people exposed is hydroquinone, which is a potential contaminant in products used daily by 94 percent of all women and 69 percent of all men.”

Absorbing a tiny amount of a toxic ingredient into your body everyday adds up to a high volume over time.

Are essential oils an alternative to parfum?

Essential oils are extracted from plants and flowers which give beauty products a natural scent. The oils capture the unique essence of a specific plant. They are scents which provide aromatherapy benefits, by uplifting your mood. They are not full of harmful chemicals which parfum has.

There have been many shifts and changes within the beauty industry. Companies are now beginning to raise awareness on harmful chemicals which are put in our products. Naturally derived ingredients are better for your health, skin and the environment.

At the moment the European Union alone has been very proactive in dealing with potentially harmful foods and cosmetics, banning over 1,300 chemicals found in cosmetics.

At Sao, we pride ourselves in using essential oils to scent our products instead of perfumes.

Being conscious of what goes into our body helps contribute to a healthier lifestyle and helps raise awareness of the changes we can all make for the world.