Step away from the spray bottle. A warning email blast went out today from Ken Cook, President of the watchdog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), alerting consumers to the risks they’re taking each time they reach to sprits a wrist or neck. It’s one thing to know that the US does a generally abysmal job of regulating personal care product ingredients – another thing entirely to know that EWG found 38 “secret” (unlisted) ingredients in the 17 popular perfumes they recently tested.

Here’s what’s even worse: 66% of those unlisted ingredients in those 17 perfumes have not been assessed by the FDA for safety, and 19% of listed ingredients haven’t been vetted for safety, either. No problem, right? I’m not ingesting my perfume, right? Wrong. Your skin is your largest organ, and it drinks up most of what you put on it, chemicals and all. Would you drink a bottle of juice with 38 “secret” ingredients in it? Probably not.

From EWG’s email alert:

“We found 38 unlisted chemicals in our testing. The average fragrance tested contained 14 secret chemicals. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the industry's own safety panel.”

Companies are getting away with this secretive, smelly nonsense because the 1973 Fair Packaging and Labeling Act doesn’t regulate “fragrance” ingredients. So when you see “fragrance” listed on a product label, that’s a red flag – it’s likely there to cover all manner of evils.

According to EWG: “The vague term ‘fragrance’ covers chemicals that can be linked to reproductive damage, hormone disruption, and can trigger allergic reactions.”

No need to forswear scents altogether – just do your homework and use EWG’s Skin Deep Database to find a perfume that’ll be as easy on your body as it is on your olfactory sensibilities.

Visit EWG’s site to learn more.