Last week, the President’s Cancer Panel warned that the many hormone-disrupting chemicals in our everyday products could up the risk of getting cancer. This week, a new analysis reports that a whole bunch of hormone-disrupting chemicals can be found in popular fragrances like American Eagle Seventy Seven and Chanel Coco.

That finding’s based on a study commissioned by an environmental and health coalition called Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which brings attention to the potential dangers in common personal care and beauty products. Dubbed Not So Sexy: Hidden Chemicals in Perfumes and Colognes, this new study reports on lab tests of 17 scented products — which contained an average of 14 chemicals that weren’t even listed on the ingredient list.

Both women’s and men’s products are tainted. American Eagle Seventy Seven, for example, contained a whopping 24 hidden chemicals, while Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio contained 19 sensitizing chemicals associated with allergies and asthma.

How can perfume companies get away with putting secret chemicals in products bought by unsuspecting consumers? Because companies can claim perfumes as a trade secret, a simple word — fragrance — on an ingredient list can mask all manner of questionable chemicals that haven’t been adequately tested for consumer safety.

The fact that “fragrance” is a cover-all for scary chemicals isn’t new news. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, as well as individual health and environmental nonprofits like Environmental Group, have been warning consumers about scary phthalates and musks in perfumes for years. What the new study shows, unfortunately, is that the government and the industry have yet to take action to make perfumes safer.

To avoid these secret chemicals, avoid personal care products that have “fragrance” on the ingredient list. Don’t worry — you won’t have to resign yourself to wearing pachouli. More perfumes that cater to health conscious and eco-friendly consumers are coming on the market — and they’ll make you smell lovely without strange chemicals.

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Secret chemicals in popular perfumes
A new study of 17 popular fragranced products finds an average of 14 secret chemicals that aren't disclosed on the ingredient list.