Fragrance is a tricky thing: wear too much and you're an asshole. Wear any at all, and you might get cancer. Didn't you know? That's why they call it Eternity.
Rarely do fragrances list all of their ingredients on their labels; you just know that there's some "natural essences" and synthetic blends that keep you smelling like a field of sexy daisies. But according to laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, there are some 38 secret chemicals — including petrochemicals — not listed in 17 major fragrances. And some of these chemicals have been linked with serious health problems.
American Eagle Seventy Seven is the worst offender, with 24 chemicals that are not listed on its label. Chanel Coco, Britney Spears Curious, men's Acqua di Gio and Old Spice After Hours Body Spray round out the top five worst offenders — which suggests that the man your man could smell like has been living a lie. But it's still bad news for other celebrity fragrances: Halle by Halle Berry, J.Lo Glo, and Hannah Montana Secret Celebrity all contain secret celebrity chemicals.
But what are the chemicals, exactly, and what might they do? Halle Berry would never want to hurt us, would she? Alas, according to the EWG's breakdown, she might. These unlisted ingredients may have effects that are worse than your run-of-the-mill allergic reaction:
Ten sensitizing chemicals associated with allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing, headaches, and contact dermatitis. Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio contained 19 different sensitizing chemicals, more than any other product in the study.
Four hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption, and cancer. Halle by Halle Berry, Quicksilver and Jennifer Lopez J. Lo Glow each contained seven different chemicals with the potential to disrupt the hormone system.
A recent EWG study found synthetic musk chemicals Galaxolide and Tonalide in the umbilical cord blood of newborn infants. The musk chemicals were found in nearly every fragrance analyzed for this study. Twelve of the 17 products also contained diethyl phthalate (DEP), a chemical linked to sperm damage and behavioral problems that has been found in the bodies of nearly all Americans tested.
A musky umbilical chord? Does the kid come out smelling like Drakkar Noir?
As for how this happens: According to the EWG, there's a federal loophole for "trade secrets," and fragrance can waft right through the loophole. If you're claiming sperm damage and cancer as "trade secrets," you might want to rethink your "trade."