We have the right to know

Disclose Fragrance to enable full freedom of choice


Charlotte Vanyo

The ingredient “Fragrance” is hidden on hand sanitizer bottles to be evaded by the eyes of most. The Sidekick staff writer Laasya Achanta believes the chemical shouldn’t be hidden from its users. Photo by Charlotte Vanyo.

Laasya Achanta, Staff Writer

Under the deceptive layer of the name brand hand sanitizer lies the Drug Facts section, skimmed by many like the terms and conditions of websites. 

Through the seemingly foreign ingredients of Isopropyl Alcohol, Acrylates, Tocopheryl Acetate and more, the simple word “Fragrance (Parfum)” alleviates consumers’ worries from the supposedly scary chemicals they previously read. 

But they are not aware that “Fragrance” is so much more than what it presents to be. 

According to a study conducted by Fragrance Products Information Network, fragrance chemicals accumulate in the body in places such as tissues and breast milk. These chemicals can also trigger asthma, allergies and more. 

For Coppell High School junior Keertana Narayanan, having chemical sensitivities to Fragrance and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate pushes her to be aware of the ingredients in the products to use.

“When I first used [Bath and Body Works] lotions and body washes, I realized I reacted to the perfume,” Narayanan said. “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an ingredient in a lot of face washes and shampoos by companies like Neutrogena and Dove, so I realized the reason I kept getting the allergy was because of this product.” 

It seems obvious these chemicals should be disclosed to the general public. Regardless of the safety of the chemicals being used, the people should have the right to know what they are consuming when they purchase a product. With this information, people can have free will to act as they want, either choosing to purchase or withhold from buying a product – regardless of the reasoning. By not disclosing the fragrance chemicals, companies are shielding the general public from the truth and asking people to make decisions that can greatly affect their lives without informing them of the risks. 

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration allows companies to keep their “trade secrets” and list them as “fragrance” or “flavor” in the ingredients. However, companies can maintain their secrecy while still disclosing their ingredients, as the concentrations and processes used to make the product do not have to be revealed.

Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam, the Director of Science for the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners company, helped author a study that identified the chemicals within personal care and cleaning products. Of the products tested, the Just for Me Shampoo, a children’s shampoo marketed for kids of color was found to be the most toxic. 

“We thought companies would be working harder to ensure their products that they were selling to vulnerable populations such as children, would be safe,” Rasanayagam said.  

These products include hormone disruptors, carcinogens, respiratory toxicants and more. Apps such as Think Dirty offer a database where people can search up products and find the chemicals that comprise them. The issue with these apps though, is the number of products in the database are limited. Moreover, it is impossible to test each product for every chemical found in the world. To the general public, without access to labs to test materials in products, the only way to be fully certain of the ingredients in the products is if the companies themselves disclose the ingredients. 

Our every decision is based on the information we have available to us, from the food we eat to the colleges we choose to apply to. So, why aren’t we given the information needed to make decisions regarding the products we use on a daily basis?

Follow Laasya (@LaasyaPA) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.