For Your Health: Understanding the Difference between Synthetic Perfumes and True Essential Oils
The zest orange peels … a crisp, cold breeze … the sweet warmth of ground cinnamon. You, like most people, probably like things to smell good. Our sense of smell evolved to help us be attracted to things that are good for us, and be repelled by things that cause harm. Unfortunately, like so much else in the modern world, that sense has become skewed and manipulated. Synthetic perfumes are pretty good at mimicking natural scents .. so that ethyl butyrate makes our brain think of oranges and cinnamaldehyde of fresh cinnamon.
Synthetic fragrances are added to almost every product you buy – from body wash to lollipops. Many of these fragrances consist of hundreds of chemicals combined to produce a specific scent to manipulate your brain. They are made up of petroleum, aldehydes, allergens and animal byproducts. But most consumers aren’t aware of these complex and problematic products – a loophole in labeling law makes it so that companies are only required to list one word the label – “fragrance.”
Do you see the problem?
Companies often choose synthetic fragrances over natural ones because they cost less to produce. And, sure, they smell good – but do you really want to expose your body to fixatives and solvents to save someone else a few bucks? For your own health and personal wellbeing, it is important to understand the difference between synthetic fragrances and natural essential oils, and to seek products that help you to be healthier and lead a more natural lifestyle.
Essential oils are concentrated extracts of plants. They contain only natural compounds sourced from leaves, bark, resin, roots, and petals. Essential oils are most commonly extracted through distillation or expression at the peak harvest. They can be diffused in the air, applied topically, used in aromatherapy, inhaled, used in massage, and substituted for chemical household cleaners. They are a versatile, functional, and green way to create an environment that is healthy and free of manufactured products.
Synthetic fragrances don’t have the natural compounds that benefit the body through aromatherapy. They often contain animal byproducts, like musk and civet (scraped from the anal glands of the respective animals), and all sorts of harsh manufactured chemicals and hormone disrupters that mimic natural smells. All in all, not something you want to be spreading on your skin or spreading through the air for yourself or your family.
Essential oils offer numerous health, beauty, spiritual, and psychological benefits. Certain essential oils can give you feelings of energy, help you relax, assist in better sleep, treat your skin, support your health and improve your mood. Examples of essential oil include Peppermint, Lavender, Frankincense, Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, and Chamomile, among many others … all simply extracted from their respective plant.
You may wonder what the term “blend” means for essential oils. Blends are combinations of pure essential oils mixed together to achieve certain benefits (mood, health, or emotional balance, for instance). The natural benefits of each oil is augmented by building on complementary strengths. Sometimes blends are sold undiluted and can be used in a diffuser or for household application. Other times they are pre-diluted with natural carrier oil (such as coconut oil or jojoba) and ready for application to the skin. Look at the product information or label to find out what is in the blend, and whether or not it has been diluted.
So trust your nose … but help it too. Check the label to make sure the products you use everyday are made with safe, healthy essential oils … and don’t include the ubiquitous “fragrance” that companies pass off as safe. Surround yourself and your family with the healthy ambiance and health benefits of pure essential oils, and let life still smell as sweet.