Yes, you can be allergic to your perfume. There are more than 2,500 natural and synthetic ingredients permitted to be used in EU fragrances. A number are known allergens, while many more are still widely used without customers knowing the risks of these ingredients.
In addition, just because your own perfume doesn’t trigger a reaction, others around you may be sensitive – your children, spouse, friends, colleagues and even your pet, may all suffer symptoms without realising the cause.
Fragrance sensitivity is one of the leading causes of allergies in adults and affects people with asthma or other respiratory illness more severely. The most common symptoms of perfume allergy include: breathing difficulties, headache, skin irritation, muscle aches, eye irritation, sneezing, coughing and runny nose, dizziness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, swelling, and nausea.
For example, limonene, a common listed allergen, is a chemical known to cause allergic reactions in a large number of people. More alarmingly, when it reacts with pollutants like acetaldehyde or formaldehyde, it generates a number of different health concerns.
Are natural perfumes the answer? Unfortunately, natural ingredients come with their own issues. Lavender and geraniol, both botanical oils and both very common ingredients in fragrances, can also cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.
There are two important components to making a vegan perfume. Firstly, the perfume cannot contain ingredients from animal-derived products. Additionally, but often overlooked, is that the perfume should not be tested on animals.
Medeau’s perfumes satisfy both of those criteria. Learn more on our Vegan page.
Sustainable fragrance houses such as Medeau focus on reducing the environmental and social impact of perfume production.
There are three elements to creating a sustainable perfume. First, no natural ingredient should be used which cannot be grown or farmed sustainably. Examples include certain botanical oils such as sandalwood. The harvesting of the sandalwood tree for the fragrance industry is causing large-scale deforestation which in turn is seeing an increase in the smuggling and trafficking of sandalwood products. The ethical alternative to this is to use a safe synthetic version of this ingredient.
Second, the type of packaging used is important. Boxes certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guarantee that no deforestation has taken place, that biodiversity and old-growth forests are protected, the cultural rights of indigenous people are upheld, and a safe environment and fair wages for all forest workers are maintained. Furthermore, no pesticides or GMOs are used. It’s also important to look out for the recycle symbol on a perfume box, even if it has an FSC logo – the dye for the text on the box could render it non-recyclable.
Third, perfume companies should seek to keep their carbon footprints as low as possible. Medeau designs, manufactures and fulfils its perfume from the United Kingdom. We’re working hard to limit the carbon footprint of each bottle.
A number of synthetic ingredients can be considered 'safe synthetics', with laboratory research not identifying notable risk factors associated with the ingredient. For example, bio-identical synthetic versions of natural ingredients can be created to be exact replicas of the natural fragrance molecules.
There are also synthetics that have been evaluated and deemed to be safe by third parties such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG has created the Skin Deep database that rates cosmetic ingredients from 1–10 (1 being the safest and 10 being the most harmful).
When creating Medeau’s flagship fragrance, Origin, we considered using only natural ingredients. In doing so, we realised that 'natural' doesn’t necessarily mean 'safe', and that using only natural ingredients limits the potential to create luxurious perfumes with the olfactory depth and complexity that we all expect from a luxury product.
As such, we focused on making our perfumes 'clean': this means that our fragrance has been carefully designed so as not to include parabens, phthalates, harmful musks, stabilisers, dyes or allergens.
Medeau uses a combination of both safe synthetics and allergen-free botanicals. This allows us to guarantee a truly luxurious scent that can replace your favourite perfume, but without making you compromise with your health.