Healthy Solutions to Scented Products

Phasing Out Scented Products

Perhaps after learning about the harmful ingredients in scented products, you wonder whether fragrance chemicals are triggering a family member’s asthma attacks, insomnia or headaches. Maybe you suspect you’ve been led down the garden path by the fragrance industry.

But phasing out scented products can seem like a daunting proposition, once you start looking at labels and find synthetic scent in every hair and body product you own, plus the laundry and cleaning supplies. There it is in the toilet and tissue paper, candles and potpourris. Why, it’s even in the diapers, kitty litter and garbage bags.

You could ease into it by replacing each scented product that runs out with an unscented one. An “unscented” product may still contain a masking fragrance to cover up the smell of other chemicals. “Fragrance free” usually indicates that the product is free of scent chemicals.

I started by feeding the brand names of my personal care products into the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database ( and was dismayed to learn that my shampoo and conditioner had high toxicity ratings because of respiratory irritants, hormone disruptors, common allergens and sensitizers. Like so many people today, I had inadvertently made unhealthy, uninformed choices.

I used the Cosmetics Database to learn which products had lower toxicity ratings, consulted lists of less toxic products at the user-friendly Guide to Less Toxic Products ( and phoned around until I found stores that carried those products.

Sure, it was a hassle at first, not very convenient and some products were more expensive. But then, I also found recipes for making natural products out of ingredients in the kitchen and these were much less expensive. I began to feel better. I found products I liked and, after a while, choosing safer products became second nature.

It is not only possible but highly desirable to replace unhealthy scented products with healthier alternatives. The BC Lung Association says, “The only safe assumption about scented products is that they contain numerous toxic chemicals, which constantly vaporize into the air and attach themselves to hair, clothing, and surroundings” ( Keep in mind, too, that the impact of multiple exposures day after day has never been studied.



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