London: Can you believe that the perfume you wear can make you sick? As many as one in three people experience symptoms including headaches, asthma and rashes due to a sensitivity to fragrances, according to research cited in ‘The Case against Fragrance’ by author Kate Grenville.
Meanwhile, a previous study in 2014 found that three quarters of women with migraines caused by odours said perfume was the lead cause, reports The Independent. In the research, Grenville recalled how she was mesmerised by her mother’s perfumes as a child.
But she was inspired to investigate the effects that artificial smells have on our health when she taped over the cracks in her hotel room doors to block the smell of diffusers in the corridor, fearing it would trigger a migraine. While researching the book she found that almost all modern perfumes and scents are made using artificial chemicals.
Perfume manufactures are not liable to declare their ingredients as they are considered a trade secret. In addition, the problems caused by natural essential oils that are the basis of many fragrances have toxic effects that have only recently been recognized in a separate study, including how the properties which enable scents to travel can stimulate immune reactions, according to Ian Musgrave, a senior lecturer in pharmacology.
For example, B-damascenone is a compound in rose essential oils and Kentucky bourbon which can cause allergic reactions in quantities larger than the average person would use. Meanwhile, 1,8-cineol – which gives eucalyptus its smell – can cause liver damage in vast quantities.