Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Natural Fragrance

Talking about my products with a few people lately, it seems as if a lot of people are confused about natural scents. I only use naturally derived fragrances (essential oils, absolutes, concretes, waxes, enfleurage, and CO2 extractions) in my products, so if someone recommends a flavor or scent, I sometimes say I can't do it, since they don't exist in a natural form. It doesn't help that some companies advertise their products as natural, but don't mention that their scents come from fragrance oils. I'm not strictly opposed to fragrance oils and synthetic fragrances, but I think many people aren't aware that the products they're using aren't scented naturally.

Many fragrances aren't available in a viable natural form. When talking about lip balm flavors, a lot of friends mention various fruity flavors, but they're not available as essential oils. A "natural" flavor can be made, but you won't necessarily know what it's made from.

Citrus fruits are some of the few that can be turned into essential oils, and there really are many wonderful ones to choose from. I keep several types of orange essential oil on hand- blood, bitter, sweet, wild. The different colors of grapefruits and mandarins produce slightly different scents as well. That's not even going into lemon, lime, and all the other citrus fruits you find out there. Citrus oils are often inexpensive, but the main issue is that they can increase photosensitivity, so you don't want to add a lot to products that will stay on the skin. Bergamot is particularly bad due to the bergaptene in it. There are bergaptene free versions out there, so those are a little less likely to leave you burned.

Some essential oils have a fruity smell, such as Roman Chamomile, red raspberry leaf, black currant bud, osmanthus, and boronia. These range in price from expensive to obscenely expensive, so it's unlikely you'll find them in a beauty product, at least not one that isn't equally expensive. Also, while some of them have a fruity aspect, the other aspects to their fragrances make it so that they won't really come of as a simple fruit smell.

Floral scents are pretty tricky. Lots of them are available as essential oils or absolutes, but floral oils are usually pricy. Some are incredibly rare- there's only a small amount of gardenia absolute produced, and it costs a small fortune. Gardenia enfleurage is another option, but again it's too much money for anyone to want to throw it into a soap. I use an absolute and maceration of gardenia in my Monoi Hair & Body Oil (coming soon!), but most gardenia scents out there come from a fragrance oil.

Enfleurage, maceration, and CO2 extractions are options for getting a fragrance out of some flowers that don't otherwise give up their scents. These are expensive and hard to find, so scents like lilac most likely from a fragrance oil.

There are also some flowers that don't have a scent that can be captured. We might long for a natural scent from them, but they either have little to no fragrance of their own, or the fragrance is too delicate to survive extraction.

I don't think people should necessarily avoid all fragrance oils and synthetic scents. They're an easy and inexpensive way to give a product a nice scent. There many high quality fragrance oils out there, some that even use essential oils and absolutes. Without them, we wouldn't have coconut scented soap or strawberry lotion. Scents like rose and jasmine would be available, but many people wouldn't be able to afford them.

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