What You Need To Know About Scented Lotions

Many of us developed our affinity for scented body lotions when we were younger (remember the glory of Bath & Body Works), and it’s an obsession some us have carried into our adult lives. We can’t deny that it feels particularly luxurious to step out of the shower, apply a fresh layer of fragranced lotion, and emerge from the bathroom smelling like a bouquet of roses. But while our noses might find pleasure in the practice of using a heavily-scented lotion on the daily, how does our skin feel about the habit? 

We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but fragrances are — by their nature — harmful. As noted by HuffPost, many companies that produce lotions and cosmetics hide dangerous ingredients under the term “fragrance,” but really what the term does is serve as a loophole for hazardous chemicals. In order to ensure that your bottle of lotion smells the same on its last use as it did the day you bought it, many additives are included to preserve the fragrance and product, some of which are far from natural. 

A shocking 95% of chemicals used are synthetic and are derived from petrochemicals. Some are known to be disruptive to hormones, to cause cancer, to cause surprising allergies, and some are even found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s hazardous waste list (via HuffPost). So get ready to take some notes, because we’re going to tell you what lotion ingredients to avoid. 

These are the lotion ingredients to watch out for

The first thing you should know is that some ingredients in scented lotions are more dangerous than others. Diazolidinyl Urea, for example, is used in many scented lotions and cosmetics as a preservative. It can release formaldehyde over a long period time and has been linked to cancer (via the Independent). Propylene Glycol is used in lotions to prevent moisture from escaping from the product, but the Environmental Workin Group (EWG) reported that it is a strong skin irritant classified as “toxic or harmful” that can cause rashes and over-drying. 

Parabens are another controversial ingredient found in many products like skin lotion. While some say their danger has been over-hyped, they are a common allergen that come with some problems. Longer paraben chains, including Propylparaben and Butylparaben, have been connected to disruptive estrogenic activity in the body (via the EWG). Not only can the ingredients cause hormonal disruptions, but too much estrogen is known to cause some forms of cancer.

Some scented lotions use more natural ingredients and may not contain any of these problematic chemicals, but in order for you to be certain, it’s important to read the labels. Not sure what’s safe and what’s not? You can run your product through the EWG’s Skin Deep app and see how it is rated.  

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