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5 Reasons I Don't Wear Perfume

There are MORE chemicals in perfume and cologne than in cigarette smoke. Each puff of cigarette smoke has 250 chemicals while perfume and cologne can have up to 3000 different chemicals that make up a signature scent.
Mar 3, 2017 | Joy McCarthy

If you’ve ever gotten a headache from someone else’s perfume or cologne, you’re not alone! This isn’t because you’re a “sensitive” person. This is because you’re inhaling potential toxins and harmful substances that are causing a reaction in your body. 

This is potentially just as bad as "second hand smoke". In fact, there are MORE chemicals in perfume and cologne than in cigarette smoke. Each puff of cigarette smoke has 250 chemicals while perfume and cologne can have up to 3000 different chemicals that make up a signature scent.

You might be an avid label reader like me but this doesn't keep you safe from chemicals and toxins in perfume because they simply aren't listed. There is a terrible loophole that exists to allow these companies to keep their scents a "trade secret". But there is still a way around this.

Any product that lists the following on the label is one that you should avoid: fragrance, parfum, perfume, linalool and limonene.

I used to wear perfume. I think my favourite scent was Eternity by Calvin Klein and then I was into Sunflower by Clinique. I have no idea if these perfumes even exist anymore! Okay I’m dating myself here, but at the time I had no clue how many chemicals I was inhaling all day long either. 

In this video I share with you five reasons that I don't wear perfume and Walker doesn't wear cologne.

Did you know? Perfume and cologne can mask pheromones which are hormones that attract one person to another.

In fact, research shows that a man's testosterone levels, which are linked with sexual interest, are significantly higher when they smell the shirt of a woman who is ovulating. So can you imagine how many more times you'd be gettin' busy if it wasn't for Chanel No. 5, lol. 

Here is a summary of my five reasons I don't wear perfume:

Reason #1: Undisclosed Chemicals

There can be thousands of chemicals that make up a scent and there is NO one ensuring these chemicals are safe, up to 3000 in fact.

Reason #2: Perfume and cologne chemicals mess with your hormones

There are hormone disrupting ingredients in most fragrance. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned a study and looked at 17 popular fragrances and each contained an average of 4 hormone-disrupting ingredients (including synthetic musks and diethyl phthalate).

Hormonal imbalance can cause a whole range of symptoms. It can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression and mood swings. It can promote acne and make PMS or menopause symptoms worse. 

Hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates can mimic estrogen, have been linked to sperm damage, and can interfere with thyroid function.


Many of the chemicals used in popular fragrances have never been tested for safety by the FDA or Health Canada. This is not surprising because the industry is largely self-regulated.

And it’s not just perfume that you spray on…

More than 95% of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products contain fragrance.


Would you like some petroleum with your fragrance?

Up to 90% of fragrance ingredients have been synthesized from petroleum and some of the commonly found harmful chemicals in fragranced products include acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate and limonene. 

Even natural products can contain synthetic "fragrance" ingredients, so make sure you’re reading your labels on everything, especially your personal care products.

I personally avoid any product that has “fragrance or parfum” listed as an ingredient unless I know 100% it's not actually fragrance but pure essential oils instead.


Synthetic musks end up in wastewater, drinking water, soil, and indoor air. Musk also bio-accumulates in the fatty tissue of aquatic wildlife, and travels through the food chain into salmon and shrimp.

There you have it, my five reasons I don't wear perfume.

And if that wasn't enough, there are also ingredients used to enhance the performance of perfuming agents such as “diethyl phthalate” or DEP which allows the scent to linger.

Phthalates essentially act like plastisizers to adhere the scent to your clothes or skin.

They have been known to interfere with hormone function, early puberty in girls, reduced sperm count in men and reproductive defects in the developing male fetus.

In conclusion, my thoughts are as follows:

  • If you are trying to get pregnant, you're currently pregnant or nursing and have little ones around, please don't use fragrance.
  • If you care about your health and the environment, please don’t use fragrance.
  • If you LOVE your perfume, save it only for a very special occasion like a wedding, but then remember you’re exposing everyone else to your toxic scent!

If you want to smell nice sans chemical-laden fragrance, then in an upcoming video I’m going to show you how to make your own perfume! But in the meantime, check out this DIY Perfume.

I hope you found this video post informative. Have a joyous day!


Roberta Santana   •   March 3, 2017

Hub Joy! I would love to hear your options for more natural and less toxic laundry and overall cleaning products. Thanks!

Rachel Molenda   •   March 3, 2017

Angie   •   March 3, 2017

Hi Joy! I use some products that list parfum as an ingredient but also say they are free of parabens, SLS and phthalates. Are these products safe to use?

Rachel Molenda   •   March 3, 2017

Rachael   •   March 3, 2017

Great video! I'm wondering your opinion on phthalate free fragrances. Are these harmful as well?

Rachel Molenda   •   March 3, 2017

Suzy   •   March 3, 2017

Thank you so much for clarifying why I can never seem to find ingredients for perfume...even the ones that claim to use natural vs synthetic ingredients. Scary stuff!

Joy McCarthy   •   March 4, 2017

Sandy Halliday   •   March 9, 2017

Hey Joy, I'm with you. I gave up wearing perfume years ago once I got interested in nutrition and of course toxins. I was very allergic to perfumes and after shaves too at one time and they gave me a migrane if I was near someone wearing a strong one at one time. Fortunately that doesn't happen anymore but I still don't like to be near anyone wearing a strong smelling perfume. Do these people know what they are doing to themselves?

Rachel Molenda   •   March 9, 2017

Kathryn   •   March 10, 2017

Hey Joy, Thanks very much for this great video! Thank goodness there is an increasing awareness of "We All Share The Same Air" and of the harm caused by the toxic ingredients in scented products. Many hospitals have scent-free policies as do many medical labs. The pottery guild I belong to is scent-free due to numerous members being adversely affected by the scented products being used by other members. I actually hope people don't take you up on wearing perfume to weddings because heavy exposure to scents at such events presents people who get sick from scent with the difficult choice of not attending, or attending and getting sick. :-( Oh well, hopefully increasing numbers of folks will come to realize the many reasons why skipping perfumes, colognes etc is a really good idea! Oh - PS, I don't know if you're aware that many people who have problems with perfumed products, also have problems with certain essential oils, so I hope that in your video about natural scent, you encourage people to use just a little, out of consideration for others. Thanks so much for what you do. Looking forward to watching more of your videos. :-)

Rachel Molenda   •   March 10, 2017

Lin Dariano   •   March 14, 2017

Joy, Very informative! Thank you for all your time and efforts to bring such important information to other people such as me! Sincerely, Lin

Rachel Molenda   •   March 15, 2017

Lindsay   •   April 1, 2017

Hi! I love this article and I avoid perfume for the same reasons however I noticed you list the natural plant terpenes Linalool and Limonene as bad... I'm hoping you can fill me in because I really enjoy my homemade lavender-lemon spray (that's got naturally occurring linalool and limonene!)

Rachel Molenda   •   April 3, 2017

Alana   •   April 2, 2017

Those of us whose bodies freak out around toxins thank you for not wearing perfume (and encouraging others to drop the habit).

Rachel Molenda   •   April 3, 2017

Sheri   •   February 7, 2018

I myself think it's rude , people that are not allergic, don't understand what the people go through that are me hurts my throat makes me dizzy feel like vertigo coming on

Rachel Molenda   •   February 13, 2018

Alan Garcia   •   September 20, 2018

Well I respect your work and the fact you wanna take care of your health, your family’s health and help other people to do the same. I, myself keep working and searching everyday for ways to remove from my daily life bad unhealthy habits and ways to better take care of my health. There’s just a problem here, if we start following this perfume-is-bad-for-you logic then it wouldn’t make any sense not to extend it even more to some other elements of one’s environment, meaning if you stopped using perfume but still use a car with gas it makes no sense. Moreover if you live in the city where you expose your lungs to CO2 from vehicles then it makes no sense if on the side you follow a no perfume logic. As a man who don’t simply wanna smell like lavender or plants and stuff like that I find this health advice one of the hardest yet I stumbled across. Even changing completely eating habits seem way easier than dumping fragrance. I don’t mean fragrance from products like shampoo and other products, I mean literally dumping perfume.

Joy McCarthy   •   September 21, 2018

Alistair Rhind   •   December 8, 2018

Hi there! Thank you for this post... :) I was just wondering what you could do when people around you have perfumes that cause sensitive people to have headaches? Thank you :)

Joy McCarthy   •   December 8, 2018

Alistair Rhind   •   December 10, 2018

Thank you Joy :) luckily I work in nature! Your advice is still that helpful though. I've discovered that using peppermint essential oil under my nostrils helps when scents are unavoidable. All the best, Alistair!

Joy McCarthy   •   December 10, 2018

Hilal wakim   •   March 10, 2019

Absolutely right .Thanks


Natasha   •   May 30, 2019

Hiya, I make natural cosmetics and agree with most of what you've said. But I thought I'd add that the limonene and linalool you see listed as ingredients is sometimes a naturally occurring part of an essential oil but because it can cause allergies we are legally bound to list it. Usually companies like myself point out that they are naturally occurring rather than an artificial addition. Hope that helps.

Joy McCarthy   •   May 30, 2019

Priyanka Tripathi   •   July 14, 2019

I am getting triggered by perfume smells. I will try not wearing any. I wear baking soda for deodorant and have almost no body odor as I am a vegan. At times I literally don’t need to wear my baking soda deodorant as well as I have no smell. Perfumes just over power.

Joy McCarthy   •   July 15, 2019

Irma Rossi   •   August 16, 2019

So much info but very informative and important!

Joy McCarthy   •   August 17, 2019

Idris   •   December 7, 2020

What if people enjoy wearing perfume, or smelling like an elite, exquisite person of class and elegance? Playing the part and interacting in high class circles of which it is the norm. We all have habits we enjoy and sustain regardless of their detriment to the environment, my point being, there may be larger fish to fry.

Joy McCarthy   •   December 7, 2020

Amina   •   March 24, 2021

Hi there ! Thank you for writing this. I stopped wearing perfume since I heard about their potentially toxic ingredients. I'm thinking about switching to essential oils maybe :) Have a nice day !

Joy McCarthy   •   March 25, 2021

Charlotte   •   February 15, 2022

Such an interesting article. I just have one question. Do natural, essential oil based perfumes also mask our own pheromones or not? Thank you.

Joy McCarthy   •   February 16, 2022

JSPoet   •   June 15, 2022

I love you!


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