Is Perfume Bad For You? [Truth About Fragrance Safety]

Written By Nazia Haque

As much as we love using perfumes, however, the thought of what’s inside it can cross your mind.

I, too, wonder if my fragrances can be harmful to me regardless of their mesmerizing smell.

Keep reading as I have got you covered with all the necessary details about perfume safety for you.

Is Perfume Bad For You? (Read To Find Out!)

Is Perfume Bad For You?

According to Dr. Heather Patisaul, a biologist at North Carolina State University, anything that gives the perfume an odor is likely to be an allergen. However, that does not mean that you will be allergic to every perfume or that everyone will react the same.

Also, check out our separate post on Why Are Creed Perfumes So Expensive?

Is Perfume Bad For Your Hair?

Yes, perfume is bad for our hair because when we directly spray it, the alcohol can seriously damage it. In addition, the alcohol inside a fragrance can extremely dry your hair and leave it brittle, haystack-like, and cause breakage. However, there are hair perfumes made to be hair-friendly.

We do love to make our hair smell like our favorite fragrance. But spraying it directly into your hair can bring trouble for you.

Most perfumes have harsh alcohol like ethyl alcohol and heavy synthetic products in them.

So, all these ingredients in your regular perfume can make your hair go incredibly dry, brittle, like a haystack, and cause a definite breakage.

However, hair perfumes are a great idea to have a lovely aromatic experience without worrying about hair damage as they have a much lower concentration of alcohol.

Hence, you can spritz it directly into your hair without worries.

Nowadays, hair fragrances are a trendy product to keep your hair smelling great.

Also, our hair can lock the scent really well, and it is a handy trick to keep your fragrance last longer.

Are Aldehydes In Perfume Bad For You?

Yes, aldehydes in perfumes are bad for us but spraying it keeps us less exposed. They are carbonyl compounds extracted both naturally and synthetically. As they’re reactive, so usually it’s toxic for us. However, a minimal amount is used in perfumes that our body can fight off.

Aldehydes are carbonyl compounds easily found in the environment, derived from both natural and synthetic sources.

As aldehydes are reactive, so they are generally toxic for us.

However, our body contains several aldehyde metabolizing enzyme systems that can help to reduce toxicity.

Those enzyme systems maintain low levels of aldehydes in the body by catalytically converting them into less harmful and easily excreted products.

Since you don’t drink perfume and spritz it, the exposure isn’t that much to make you sick.

However, if you have sensitive skin, many components of a fragrance may not be friendly to your skin.

Also, aldehydes play an essential role in the making of perfume. These chemical compounds can provide a soapy, waxy, lemony, floral touch to a perfume formula.

Why Does Perfume Give Me A Headache?

It often happens that a perfume smells splendid but causes a headache. Mostly, chemical-based fragrances can make you feel horribly nauseous.

The chemical-based fragrances often contain ingredients like phthalates which can give you a headache.

Also, experts say that strong odors can cause a person’s blood vessels to swell and dilate, which results in stimulating the nervous system in our brain, causing head pain.

However, you can also be allergic to a chemical present in the perfume.

Moreover, you can have a fragrance sensitivity to specific scents, which can irritate you and cause an allergic reaction. Here are some symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose

Even when fragrances use natural products, they also have lots of chemicals in them.

We can be sensitive to any of those chemicals, and that can result in headaches or allergies.

However, you can also try unscented products but keep in mind that they all got some chemicals.

Follow our guide to know Is Perfume Bad For Dogs?

What Are The Bad Chemicals In Perfume?

Like mirrors have two sides, perfumes have a fantastic smell and contain toxicity as well.

There are indeed hundreds of chemicals commonly used in fragrances. Here are the 10 common chemicals used in perfumes:

1# Styrene
It can cause cancer.

2# Phthalates
They are endocrine disruptors and can decrease IQ by 6 points in children inside a womb. In addition, it can cause sperm damage and obesity.

3# Musk ketone
It causes skin irritation and hormonal imbalance.

4# Benzaldehyde
It is narcotic and can cause lung and eye irritation, nausea, abdominal pain, and kidney damage.

5# Benzyl acetate
It can cause cancer as well as eye and lung irritation and coughing.

6# Camphor
It can cause dizziness, nausea, muscle twitching, and convulsion.

7# Ethyl acetate
It can cause eye and respiratory irritation.

8# Limonene
It has the potential to cause cancer.

9# Linalool
It can cause respiratory disturbance, depression, and central nervous system disorder.

10# Methylene chloride
It has severe toxic effects on us and is banned by the FDA.

In a fragrance, there are many chemicals present, and some are very toxic. And these poisonous chemicals can pass from our skin to the blood system.

Can Perfume Make You Smell Bad?

No, perfume cannot make you smell bad, but too much of it is bad. The way our body treats fragrance is essential. For example, some of us have more pores or more layers of fat in the skin. These factors affect the heat emitted in our body which influences the overall scent.

The way your fragrance reacts in your body results in the scent you smell.

Our body emits heat of its own and also has an odor of its own. Also, it’s always important to apply perfume on pulse points.

The pulse points in our body emit extra heat that helps in locking the scent to last longer.

However, sometimes a pleasant-smelling perfume may not smell good on you.

Well, it’s probably because your skin type did not blend well with that scent.

Nonetheless, you should choose the right perfume type. So, test a fragrance on your skin to see if it suits you.

Also, you can always try spraying perfumes on your clothes rather than your skin because clothes make it last longer, minus the skin issues.

Also, don’t keep spraying because you need to let the top note settle, and constant spraying can destroy that.

Is It Bad To Drink Perfume?

Yes, it is absolutely forbidden to drink perfume. A fragrance has lots of chemicals and alcohol that are very toxic for us. However, spraying them minimizes the effects. But if you drink it, that can be life-threatening. So, you’ll require immediate medical attention.

A fragrance smells great, but chemicals make that happen, and those substances can even cause cancer.

And one of the most used ingredients is alcohol which takes up to 20 to 95 percent of the scent.

The alcohol can cause the blood sugar to drop below normal. It can even make you drunk.

Perfumes can make you extremely sick if you drink them. It is also known as perfume poisoning.

There are visible symptoms when someone has perfume poisoning, like high body temperature, hives or boils, confusion, nausea, or vomiting.

You will need immediate medical help if you ingest perfume for whatever reasons.

So, keep perfumes at a safe distance from children to ensure their safety.

How Bad Is Perfume In The Eye?

The sweet-smelling perfumes can seriously burn your eyes even with just one spray.

If you accidentally spray perfume on your eyes, it will cause immediate irritation like burning.

The alcohol in most fragrances can scratch your cornea, causing long-term discomfort.

However, if you immediately take care of it, severe damage to the eye is not expected.

So, even if accidentally you spray perfume on your eyes, here’s what you should do:

Step-1# Flush your eyes with water.
Use clean lukewarm tap water and splash it into your eyes for around 20 minutes. It will wash away the perfume particles.

Step-2# Wash your hands with soap and water.
Clean your hands properly to make sure no chemical is on your hands.

Step-3# Remove contact lenses if you use any.
The lens can still contain the chemical particles, so it’s best to take them off.

When you use perfumes, remember that they are potentially harmful products, so you should be careful to avoid spraying them into your eyes.

Also, you can check out Can You Use Essential Oils As Perfumes?

What Happens If You Eat Perfume?

If you eat perfume, you will suffer from perfume poisoning because perfumes have toxic ingredients.

And most perfumes have a high content of ethanol that we shouldn’t consume.

So, if any such case occurs where you or especially a child ingests perfume, then go to emergency ASAP. Here are some symptoms:

  • An increase in temperature
  • Boils or large hives
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Elevated heart rate

The most toxic ingredient in a perfume is ethanol and isopropyl alcohol.

Are Perfumes Bad For Health?

Yes, perfumes are bad for your health if you somehow consume them. It is because a fragrance has a high quantity of alcohol and toxic chemicals; as much as these things can make us smell great but can cause health issues. That is why we spray perfumes as the contact isn’t that strong then.

Perfumes are divine-smelling creations, and we love them for that. But its intoxicating smell can have toxic effects on our health.

Most fragrances have a high alcohol content, and they do need it to keep a perfume what it is.

But those alcohols are very harmful to us. It can make us sick or cause an allergic reaction.

Moreover, there are lots of chemicals in a fragrance that can not only make us allergic but can cause other severe illnesses like cancer.

So, we should be careful how we use our fragrances in our everyday lives.

Are Perfumes Bad For Skin?

Perfume isn’t exactly bad for the skin, but it depends on the area you are applying.

So, you should follow the right way to wear your perfume and avoid damaging your skin. Here’s what you should do:

Don’t rub scent on the skin
Rubbing perfume on your skin will not only destroy the top notes but will also leave marks.

Apply your perfume on the pulse points
Pulse points, like the wrist, behind ears, and chest give off extra heat, so scents don’t damage that part of the skin compared to others.

Spray on hair or clothes
If you’re reluctant to spray perfume on your skin, then you can spritz it on your clothes and hair, plus the outcomes will be great as well.

Store your perfume properly
Place your perfume in a cool, dark, and dry area like a cupboard. Because heat, light, and wetness can damage the structure of your scent, and if you apply that, it can damage your skin.

Safe application
Try mixing unscented lotion with your perfume and then use it.

Can You Wear Perfume When Pregnant?

Yes, you can wear perfume when pregnant, but it can make you more sensitive to scents. Also, while expecting, some but not all scents can likely make you nauseated, light-headed, agitated, or more prone to headaches. So, just to be on the safe side, keep a distance.

Though it is not unsafe to wear perfume while pregnant, let’s not forget that perfumes have alcohol and so many chemicals.

Pregnancy makes you more sensitive towards a lot of factors, including fragrances.

Hence, it can make you light-headed, more prone to headaches, nauseous, or agitation.

So, it’s best to avoid these unnecessary symptoms for the well-being of you and your unborn child.

However, if you are a perfume freak and cannot live without it, try fragrance-free or very little alcohol or no alcohol at all.

Follow our guide to know Does Perfume Have Alcohol In It?


Perfumes are a beautiful smelling delight for our noses, but our health can beg to differ.

Even though the negative sides of fragrances are not advertised, they can damage our health, hair, and skin.

Perfumes have so many chemicals and aldehydes that are toxic for us if consumed or constantly in contact.

These ingredients in a perfume can cause serious illness to allergic reactions that can be fatal.

Especially children and pregnant women should be cautious around perfumes.

However, as a perfume enthusiast, I know what fragrances mean to us so, it’s essential to understand what we are using.

I hope I have helped you understand the effects of perfumes apart from making us smell great.

Nonetheless, it will be great if you share your questions or thoughts in the comment section below.

About The Author
Nazia is passionate about perfumes. Her love for perfumes started with her father whom she lost in 2017. She’d often reminisce his memories with the help of his fragrances’. Writing about fragrances makes her happy as she can share its wonders with the world. She also loves reading sci-fi novels and traveling.

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