Perfumes for children

In Singapore, a look around the retail stores show an increasing array of perfumes targeted at kids. Even high-end brands such as Burberry, Bvlgari and Givenchy are marketing fragrances with sweet sounding names like Tartine et Chocolat Ptisenbon.

Labels that accompany these fragrances give reassuring references to being “dermatology and allergy tested”, “clinically tested”, “hypoallergenic” and “tested for irritation”. So should parents give in and pick up the trend started by famous celeb moms such as Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow?

Associate Professor Anne Goh, Senior Consultant and Head of Allergy Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, advises parents to first learn more on what goes into fragrances before making that purchase.

What's in a perfume?

Most perfumes contain 78% to 95% of specially denatured ethyl alcohol, and a mix of essential oils which can be either natural or synthetic. In addition, phtalates and glycerin are used as fixatives to help preserve perfumes.

Kids’ perfumes usually have a lower percentage of alcohol or can even be alcohol free. However they still contain essential oils, phtalates and glycerin, all ingredients which have been found to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Studies have shown that chemicals contained in fragrances can cause health effects like skin sensitivities, rashes and dermatitis. What’s more, as many as 75% of asthma sufferers can have asthma attacks triggered by perfumes.

Just bathe them in soap and water

Parents need to know that children have a much higher rate of chemical absorption from their skin into their bloodstream than adults. “If accidentally ingested, perfumes could also result in accidental poisoning. If applied in large quantities, allergies of the skin can develop,” warns A/Professor Goh.

Her advice for parents is this, “If you want your children to smell good, bathing them with soap and water should do it.”

If you still cannot resist the appeal of perfumes for your kids, try spraying the product on their clothes instead of on their skin, and do mind the quantities.

Ref: U11