According to Pour le Monde Natural Perfumes, 60% of what we put on our skin gets directly absorbed into our blood stream. The skin does not have a filter unlike other organs, like our kidneys. This is the basis for Aromatherapy. So, it’s obvious that knowing the origins of the scents and lotions you use is important to your health.
WebMD reports that the use of fragrances in all types of products is skyrocketing and so is the number of consumers are are reporting allergies to these scents. Sensitivity or alergic reactions appear more with synthetic fragrances where “as many as 200 or more chemicals are being mixed to create the fragrances we smell and masking agents in unscented products.” Think about that one for a minute. Making an unscented product requires dozens if not hundreds of chemicals to cover up the real scent.
80% or more of the chemicals used in commercial fragrances are synthetic and 95% of these synthetic compounds are derived from petroleum and natural gas according to Pour le Monde’s research. Why? Cost. Natural scents are more costly to produce than synthetics. The distillation process to get fragrances from botanicals uses steam or water, which is the same process that has been used for thousands of years. Natural scents are often sourced from around the globe. This takes time, effort and money. To be fair, there are some scents, like cucumber-mellon, that are obviously not found in nature. In these cases, synthetics are the only option.
Another side of the debate regarding natural vs synthetic scents is an environmental one. Natural scents are healthier to use and better for the environment that perpetuating a reliance on petroleum. The big caveat here is that botanicals must be grown, harvested and distilled in a environmentally-responsible manner. The great news is that are choices in the marketplace for those who want a healthier and green option in scents. It’s up to you to evaluate the tradeoffs.