“Scent is our most primitive sense, it’s the closest thing to the emotional brain. It transports you. You love it instantly and you want to be a part of it” - I.R.
There’s no denying that scent has the ability to transport you to a far away land in the future or bring you back to cherished moments from the past. But what if we told you that not all scents were created equal? In this article, you’ll learn about three main types of fragrance used in self-care and home products today: natural fragrance, synthetic fragrance and essential oils.
It’s true that almost all fragrance, whether natural or synthetic, can make you feel all the feels. But regardless, you might be wondering.. why should you choose one type of fragrance over the other and what might one look for in their products when making a conscious choice for their body and home? By the end of this article, you’ll understand what natural and synthetic fragrances are, where essential oils fit in on the scale and what to look for when choosing a fragrance.
What Are Natural Fragrances?
Natural fragrances are scents that are created from nature. Those sweet, flowery and musky scents you love.. those are often derived from natural sources. Some of the sources commonly used in natural products today include herbs, flowers, fruits, woods, barks and roots.
The International Fragrance Association (IFA) defines a fragrance to be “natural” if the materials used in the fragrance have been physically obtained from plants using extraction, expression or distillation. There are three types of materials that can be extracted from these plants: absolutes, essential oils and resins.
What are Synthetic Fragrances?
Unlike natural fragrances, synthetic fragrances are developed in laboratories and have either been chemically made (from petroleum), or the fragrance started as natural and has had its chemical structure modified. Synthetic fragrances fall into the categories of nature-identical raw materials, chemically modified raw materials and chemical aromas that do not exist in nature.
It’s important to note that “synthetic fragrance” is a general term. There are three sub-types of synthetic fragrances explained below:
- Full Synthetic: The entire fragrance is derived from petroleum by-products
- Semi-synthetics: Partially synthetic. These are often created from a combination of synthetic, natural, and artificially modified notes.
- Natural isolates: Developed from both a synthetic and natural result
The Risks of Synthetic Fragrances
Synthetic fragrances can be stronger, easier to manufacture and less expensive than natural fragrances. However, it’s important to understand the risks associated with choosing these cheaper alternatives in our products. The fragrance industry itself is self-regulated, meaning the safety standards of fragrance chemicals are determined by the manufacturers.
The National Academy of Sciences found that around “95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil) which include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), toluene and many other known toxic chemicals linked to birth defects, nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. When you use a product containing synthetic fragrances, all of the harmful ingredients are absorbed into your bloodstream. This does not only include the products you put on your body, but also products you end up inhaling such as candles and room sprays.
So Where Do Essential Oils Fit In?
Essential oils are some of the most powerful and complex scents found in nature. They are made from extracting the “essence” from plants through methods such as steam distillation (water or steam) or cold pressing (mechanical). During this process, they float on top of water, just like oil does but they are actually considered to be pure plant essences that act like an oil.
Essential oils are most commonly used in aromatherapy, natural perfumes, cleaning products, home fragrances and are sometimes even used in food as flavoring. They have also been shown to have a range of health benefits including boosting mood, reducing stress, improving energy and focus, killing bacteria and viruses, reducing pain and inflammation and relieving headaches and nausea.
Choosing Natural Fragrance in Your Products
For obvious reasons, the demand for natural aromas continues to increase rapidly. Natural fragrances are a healthier, safer and more sustainable alternative. When choosing a product, look for labels such as plant-based, essential oils, 100% natural fragrance, no synthetic additives, paraben-free, zero phthalates, and not tested on animals.
At LUNAE, we use 100% natural fragrances that are derived from absolutes, essential oils and plant resins with no synthetic additives. Our fragrances are vegan, non-toxic, phthalate-free and never tested on animals. Zero nasties - just clean burning, clean spraying and clean soaking products for your conscious home.