Thursday, February 24, 2011

Scentsibility: essential oils vs fragrance oils

Today, as my first blog post, I want to write about scents that are added to products we use every day. 

By talking with my customers, I realized that most people don't know the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils. 
Almost all cosmetics, soaps, candles, air fresheners, cleaning products, etc., have some sort of scent in it, which is due to the presence of either fragrance oils or essential oils. Sometime, both essential oil and fragrance oil are used in a single product.  The difference between the two scenting agent is very significant and you should be aware of it. Let's take a look:

Essential or aromatherapy oils are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic essences of plants, extracted directly from a variety of plants  like flowers, fruits, leaves, barks, roots, herbs and spices. They are not oils, but rather natural chemicals found in plants, extracted as aromatic and highly volatile essences and their scent dissipates with evaporation. Because of their high concentration, they have to be diluted before use and they must be used in a proper way to avoid any possible side effects. 
These oils are very expensive simply because large quantities of raw materials are required to make small amounts of essential oils. For example, it requires over 30 roses to produce 1 drop of Rose Absolute!
Essential oils have strong therapeutic benefits and are rich sources of natural hormones, antiseptics and antibiotics, etc. 


Now, let see, what are the fragrance or perfume oils? Originally, perfumes and fragrance materials came from plants (and animal, like the musk or ambergris) sources but as we learned, essential oils are expensive and difficult to make, their availability is subject to weather and other socio-politico-economical factors. Also, some plant can't produce any essential oils like most of the fruits (there is no such thing as banana or strawberry essential oil). 


Therefore, in the 1800's, the first synthetic, man-made fragrance material was produced smelling similar to the plant product or the essential oil they represent. Fragrance oils are not as volatile as essential oils and retains the fragrance much longer and compared to the prices of essential oils, fragrance oils are cheaper. Fragrance oils do not have any therapeutic effects or health benefits and can cause skin irritation and fragrance allergies in people. 

That's said, we can understand why fragrance chemicals are just emerging as a health hazard with their toxic fumes. Sneezing, coughing, throat and lung irritations are common symptoms caused by these artificial fragrances. Even if you don’t have symptoms that you notice, that doesn’t mean you’re not being affected.  
Air fresheners (including sticks, sprays, aerosols and plug-ins) are fragrance-machines making the air you and your children breath saturated with chemicals. If you want the calming, soothing, mild, fresh, natural aromas that gives just enough scent to soothe your senses for a beautiful bubble bath, meditation, yoga or Pilates exercises choose an aromatherapy candle. KlaraCoco's Essentia candles are handcrafted soy candles created with 100% all-natural biodegradable vegetable soy wax, and the finest-quality pure essential oils. Or buy pure essential oils and use them in burners or vaporizers. 

Don't think that products making some sort of claim about being green, organic or natural are free of perfumes. The "98% natural" claim means that 2% is an artificial chemical compound, some fragrance and probably harsh preservative.
I personally try to avoid all scented products unless pure essential oils are used.  For cleaning I use a hypoallergenic all purpose cleaner with no scent or I add my own essential oils, or simply vinegar and baking soda.
For bath and body products choose the ones without fragrance oils.

At KlaraCoco we use only true, undiluted essential oils for scent, no synthetic fragrance oil what so ever is used in any of our products and all ingredients are listed on our labels. 

Since I stopped using fragrance-full products, I have noticeable symptoms when exposed to high amount of fragrances. Before I didn't realized this as, I guess, my body was used to them, but now it is enough to walk in the mall near a cosmetic shop and my throat starts to get irritated. Alternative products for your household and personal care are as important as the food you choose to eat, because You are what you eat and You are what you put on your skin and breath in!


No comments:

Post a Comment