Fragrance – Is It Natural?
95% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds
derived from petroleum. It has been estimated that more than
3000 different chemmcials are used in fragrance production.
Do these figures shock you? Yes, manufacturers are very clever
– we see the packaging and the adverts showing flowers and
nature, and we assume (as the manufacturer intends us to assume)
that the fragrance in the product is derived from nature,
but most fragrances are chemically derived. They do not use
essential oils because they are too expensive. They do use
synthetic chemicals because they are cheap.
We are exposed to perfume or fragrance throughout the day.
We may not wear perfume ourselves, but our shampoo, soap,
shower gel and cosmetics are likely to contain synthetic perfumes,
unless we look at the label and shop carefully.
We encounter more smells in our household products – cleaners,
washing powders, polish, air fresheners, etc. If we go out,
we experience these smells on other people and in offices
Perfume mixes added to products are listed in the ingredients
as ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ depending on the part of the world
you live in. Even some products that appear to be unperfumed
will contain synthetic perfumes in order to cover an unpleasant
odour from one of the active ingredients, or to ensure that
the product always smells the same. The exact composition
of these may vary over time even for the same product, as
the manufacturer adjust the fragrance mix in relation to variations
in the smell of the raw ingredients.
Even some essential oils are not entirely natural, as harsh
chemicals may be used in their extraction process. Chemical
solvents such as hexane and heptane are used to extract the
maximum amount of oil from the plant, so it is important to
buy good quality oils from a source you trust.
Allergies to fragrances are very common. The main organs affected
are the skin and the respiratory system, but neurological
damage has also been reported. Some people feel that we should
have a right to fragrance-free air as well as tobacco-smoke-free
air. There are also concerns about the impact of synthetic
chemicals on the environment, as they do not necessarily break
Of course, there is a role for fragrance. The power of aromatherapy
oils to heal and lift the spirits is well documented, but
the widespread use of synthetic fragrances should be seen
as pollution of both our bodies and our environments.
About the author:
Jane Thurnell-Read is a writer and researcher on health,
stress, allergies, happiness and alternative medicine. More
of her writing can be viewed at http://www.healthandgoodness.com
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