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 chemicals 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 and
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 down easily.
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
About The Author: Jane Thurnell-Read is a writer and researcher
on health, stress, allergies, happiness and alternative
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