Synthetic fragrances are what make our lotions, soaps, cleaners and other products smell good, but many of them are toxic. Science has shown some intriguing and worrying links between these chemicals and ever-increasing medical problems and conditions that we seem to be experiencing as a society. Even though the regulatory bodies that are meant to protect us have remained either silent or unhelpful, we are not helpless. We can take steps to protect ourselves as consumers of commercial products by taking the common sense precaution of minimizing our exposure to toxic chemicals – including fragrances.
The way to avoid these products is to look at the labels on all your products: if you see the word “fragrance” in the ingredients, steer clear of it. For some products it’s even easier: if your laundry detergent smells like a “fresh mountain breeze,” or your hand soap smells like “cherry in bloom,” then you can be sure it’s synthetic!
Often the terms “fragrance oil” and “essential oil” are, confusingly, used interchangeably. But there is actually a big difference between an ingredient marked “essential oil” and one marked “fragrance” or “fragrance oil.” Both types of oil can be used for similar purposes, but they are made up of different properties and priced differently as well.
Essential oils and fragrance oils differ in that the former is natural and the latter is synthetic. More often than not, it’s better to use natural products, even though the synthetic products may be cheaper to produce and easier to get. The reason is that synthetics almost always contain harsh chemicals that can pose unique health risks. Pure essential oils are high quality and healthier – especially when used properly, but synthetic ingredients have no “proper” therapeutic use. Synthetic fragrances are a perfect example of the idea that most of the time cheaper/easier doesn’t always mean better. By using products that have fragrances made from natural essential oils, you get a better product with real benefits.
What are Fragrance Oils?
Fragrance oils are manufactured scents. They can be created with both artificial and natural substances. Fragrance oils are designed to mimic the scent of natural products or create the concept of a smell. All fragrance oils are composed of a variety of various chemicals, some natural and some synthetic. Sometimes they are created to smell like something that occurs in nature, like strawberries, flowers, lavender or pine. Sometimes a fragrance can be formulated to smell like a concept, like “summer rain”, winter fresh or Christmas pine.
Some fragrance oils can have diluted essential oils contained in the formula, whereas others are completely artificial or made with analogs of essential oils. Most of the time fragrance oils are diluted to thin the various compounds they contain to make them cheaper. Whether a fragrance oil is safe on your skin will depend on what it’s comprised of. Though the fragrance oils contained in lotions and other skin care solutions generally must comply with local safety regulations, they may still contain harmful ingredients.
James L Poole
I am a holistic health therapist: Emmett Technique practitioner, aromatherapist, nutritional therapist, and Reiki healer. This is my blog about natural healing. For more frequent updates, please check my Facebook group page.