Be kind to your body & mind!
When I first started making soap a few years back I started to learn all about the difference between essential oils & fragrance oils. I quickly realised that many of the everyday products we use such as soap, shower gels, hand washes and shampoos contain products that, let's just say, aren't as natural as they're made out to be.
The thing is what we put on our skin ends up in our body and the more conscious we become about what products we use, what we put on our skin may become just as important as the food we eat.
What are fragrance oils?
Fragrance oils are synthetic man made fragrances. You will find them in a wide range of products to give them a scent. You'll know if a product contains a synthetic fragrance by looking at the label, if the ingredients list says the words fragrance oil, FO, perfume or parfum it's not natural. They are made from synthetic compounds and can have potentially dangerous side effects such as headaches, dizziness, skin irritation or coughing. Many fragrance oils are derived from petrochemicals (petroleum based) and could 'possibly contain diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans (Silva 2004) and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies (Swan 2008), and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk (Hutter 2009; Reiner 2007).' )(from ewg.org)
Why use a fragrance oil?
For someone looking to make a soap or candle fragrance oils are the easy choice because they hold their scent better than essential oils and they are much cheaper. As a consumer you get the fresh clean linen scent that you love or the scent of fabric conditioner in your candle. Fragrance oils smell great! Essential oils cost more and are trickier to get a great scent throw from. That's why when you see an aromatherapy soap or candle made from essential oils it's bound to be more expensive and probably won't have such a strong smell. Fragrance oils aren't all that bad otherwise manufacturers wouldn't be able to use them! As they are made by a synthesis of chemicals to imitate a natural product, the issue can occasionally lie within the exact individual chemical component of the finished fragrance.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are made from the flowers, leaves, fruit or stems of plants. They are obtained from natural raw material either by distillation with water or steam, mechanical processing or dry distillation. They are widely used for their therapeutic benefits. Many essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when they are inhaled or applied topically and these essential oils have an effect on the mental states, nervous system or the endocrine system. For example lavender is well known for its calming and relaxing effects. But not all natural plants are safe, think poison ivy! Essential oils aren't as harmless as you may think, they are not to be used internally, most are not to be used directly on the skin and essential oils do have some of the same allergens found in fragrance oils.
Why use essential oils?
Here's why I will only use products fragranced with essential oils. They are natural extracts of plants and flowers. I choose not to have chemicals found in fragrance oils on my body or even worse burn them in a candle producing a toxic chemical vapour. But also for the therapeutic benefits, as an aromatherapist and holistic therapist I've been using them for years to help people with a range of conditions. Many of my clients swear by my muscle & joint ease balm to take away joint and muscle discomfort, and they smell divine too!
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