Parfum and Gloom


One of the many things that I learned when reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck was that parfum, as pretty as it sounds, is a nasty chemical mix with all sorts of potential health ramifications. Often listed on ingredient lists as fragrance (parfum), it’s one of those things that the authors made a good argument for avoiding.

So I dutifully went through my medicine cabinet pulling out my collection of lotions and potions to see if any contained parfum. They did. All of them. From my soap to my shower gel to my lotion, they all listed parfum on the ingredient list. Even the products that seemed the most ‘natural,’ be they from The Body Shop or Aveeno, held the same dirty little word.

What this means is that every morning since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve been dousing myself head to toe in chemicals that have the potential to make me sick, not to mention what they do to the environment when I wash it down the drain. Ick.   

As I’ve said before, I’m finishing off much of what I have already, because tossing it into a landfill isn’t going to help either, but I am committed to buying safe products now. It’s proven harder than I anticipated. One of the first things I did away with was the chapstick I use every night. It was almost finished anyway and the thought of covering my lips with chemicals was particularly unsettling, so I started looking for an alternative.

Have you read the ingredients in most cosmetic products? No? It’s a daunting task and unless you have a chemistry degree it’s also pretty impossible. I started off just trying to find one without parfum and settled on a peach Kiss My Face product. It smells nice and doesn’t include the offending ingredient, so I’m working with that for now.

But while looking through the natural beauty products at the grocery store, I was shocked to see that many of them still contained parfum. I picked up lotions, shampoos, soaps and found it there again and again. Surely, there must be scented options that don’t involve parfum, right? Suggestions would be happily welcomed, as this is proving to be a much more difficult task than I’d anticipated!