When examining the ingredient list of numerous natural skincare products available in today’s market, one ingredient frequently catches the eye: Parfum (fragrance)⋆⋆.
At the end of the list of ingredients, you will often see something like this: ⋆⋆ indicates the presence of natural fragrances extracted from plants.
As someone who values a thorough understanding of the products I apply to my skin, I have developed a keen interest in uncovering the distinctions between essential oils and fragrances sourced from essential oils. Consequently, I strive to obtain the complete ingredient list to satisfy my curiosity.
Let’s begin by examining the disparity between utilizing pure essential oils and natural fragrances in cosmetics.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural organic substances that are produced in various glands and sacs within aromatic plants. They are widely regarded as the life force of plants, encompassing a complex blend of chemicals that work synergistically with one another.
The primary chemicals present include terpenes, alcohols, ketones, phenols, aldehydes, acids, esters, oxides, and lactones. On average, essential oils contain over 50-100 chemical components, showcasing their rich and diverse nature.
Notably, certain essential oils exhibit adaptogenic properties, meaning they have the innate ability to naturally adapt and address specific needs or conditions. These oils possess the remarkable capacity to bring about alterations and restore balance, rendering them complete, pure, and truly healing. A notable example of an adaptogenic oil is geranium, which is known for its skill in harmonizing the sebaceous glands of the skin. Consequently, geranium oil proves useful for both oily and dry skin types.
Despite being called “oil,” essential oils are not actually oils and should not be confused with fixed or carrier oils.
What is the Fragrance used in “Natural Cosmetics”
Most natural perfumes used in natural cosmetics are made from individual aldehydes extracted from plants. Aldehydes are organic compounds responsible for the aromatic profiles of trees, plants, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
These compounds evolved as a means for plants to safeguard themselves or attract specific animals.
For example, lemongrass contains the aldehyde citronellal (distinct from citronella), which is widely utilized as a mosquito repellent.
The extraction process used to create natural fragrances is significantly more intricate when compared to essential oils. While essential oils are distilled from the entire plant, fragrances necessitate the complete isolation of their desired components, separating them from all other substances and impurities.
What is the difference between using pure essential oils and fragrances in cosmetics?
As a teacher of Aromatherapy, I had the opportunity to study and educate others about the chemistry of essential oils.
This granted me a profound comprehension of their intricate chemical compositions and proper usage.
It was truly eye-opening to realize that attempting to artificially replicate an essential oil in a laboratory would be an exceedingly arduous task, as nature has already bestowed upon us every single cherished and appreciated chemical constituent. In fact some essential oils such as Jasmine, Rose and Vetiver are virtually impossible to reproduce in a laboratory.
Both Rene Gattefosse and Dr Jean Valnet (The Grandfathers of Aromatherapy) emphasized that the whole essential oil is necessary to maintain the integrity of healing and to heal wholly.
Although the parfum might smell good, your olfactory sense does not recognize them as healing agents, and you will experience none of the effects you might expect, since these substances have no life force like essential oils. They simply smell pleasant.
It is important to note that according to the FDA, the term “natural” refers to anything that occurs in nature or can be produced in a laboratory. This definition allows companies to label products as “pure” and “natural” even if they do not contain organic materials.
While acknowledging that natural perfume surpasses its harmful synthetic counterpart, I personally gravitate towards products that contain the addition of 100% pure essential oils. It brings me reassurance to see specific essential oils listed in the ingredients, such as “Pelargonium graveolens* (Geranium),” “Lavendula angustifolia* (Lavender),” and “Linalool* (Lavender),” as opposed to the vague term “Parfum (fragrance)⋆⋆.”