Hey, Halle Berry! What’s In Your Perfume?

  • May 16, 2013 8:18 pm

I’ve started a petition over at Change.org asking Halle Berry to fully disclose the ingredients in her Coty, Inc. fragrances. Would you please sign and share it? Thanks!

From the petition (there’s more at Change.org):

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I started researching environmental health concerns. I’m a journalist so my research became a book, co-authored with a close friend: The Complete Organic Pregnancy. Eight years, three more books, and a new four-month-old daughter later, I’m still alarmed by how many unsafe substances my girls—and all children—are exposed to daily. It upsets me how much is unknown. It’s impossible to safeguard kids against the unknown.

If the press is to be believed, this is something the actress Halle Berry worries about, too. She’s pregnant with her second child. During her first pregnancy, it was reported that she was interested in organics and was planning an eco-friendly nursery.

That’s why I’m asking her, mom to mom, to use her considerable influence as a celebrity to help close a consumer health loophole that a lot of people don’t even know about.

Fragrances—which are in everything from perfumes to lotions to diapers to food –are considered government protected trade secrets. This means that companies don’t have to tell consumers which chemicals make up the “fragrance” on their product’s ingredient list. The word “fragrance” is a placeholder for unknown mixtures of potentially hundreds of chemicals.

The problem? Many of the undisclosed ingredients in any given fragrance have been linked in various studies to allergies, asthma, hormone disruption, and even cancer. In one study, one of Halle Berry’s perfumes was found to contain several of these toxic chemicals.

Halle Berry has five perfumes in her name. Her latest fragrance, Closer, is up for a popular fragrance of the year award. I’m asking her, as another mom who cares about children’s health and the environment, to set a trend by disclosing the individual ingredients in her perfumes. It would be great if Coty, Inc. stopped using potentially unsafe chemicals, but if they at least tell consumers what’s in the Halle Berry perfumes, it’s one less unknown for us parents. I hope it will inspire other fragrance manufacturers to be more transparent, too.

Q&A: Are candles safe to burn?

  • December 5, 2012 9:50 am

Question:

Dear Alexandra,

In the winter I love to burn candles. I think it creates a warm atmosphere at home. But I have been reading about how maybe they’re not safe. I saw something about chemicals in their scents that aren’t good for you. Do you become exposed to these when you burn candles?

-Annette

Answer:

Hi Annette,

Thanks for your question. It’s a good one. You’re certainly not alone, especially around the holidays. You can absolutely inhale chemicals in fragrance, some of which have been linked to hormone disruption, when you burn scented candles, among other pollutants. Here is an excerpt on candles from Planet Home, which I co-authored. I think it will help answer your question.

“Conventional candles made from petroleum emit plumes of soot and phthalate-containing scents. Their wicks can contain metals like zinc, tin, and even lead. If you really like fragrance, non-petroleum-based candles, like unscented beeswax or essential-oil-scented non-GM soy wax versions with cloth wicks, are far preferable to their conventional counterparts.”

I personally have given up on candles, besides the infrequent unscented beeswax one. Beeswax has its own lovely scent–warm and honey-ish. I’d suggest giving it a try.

Best,

Alexandra

Planet Home In Health Magazine

  • April 8, 2011 6:20 pm

I was reading my April issue of Health this morning and came across my name and this mention of Planet Home. Fun! I love vanilla.

“Kick household stenches (and maybe even some germs) to the curb—sans chemicals—with vanilla. Not only does it lift odors, but a compound in vanilla may serve as an antibacterial. You can concoct your own nontoxic deodorizing spray by adding a few drops of pure vanilla essential oil (preferably organic) to a few cups of water in a spray bottle, says Alexandra Zissu, co-author of Planet Home. Spray it in stinky spots throughout your house to make your place smell like baked goods. Sweet!”

There’s also a sweet tip for how/where to store vanilla beans (hint: it involves sugar) in the article. Click here for more.