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My Guide to Natural Fragrances

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above, some of my favorites

Newsflash: government regulation of the beauty industry is super shoddy. Despite a few smallish amendments, cosmetic laws haven’t changed since 1938. Yeah. Think about that for a second. (Over 10,000 new ingredients have been introduced since then, ahem.) If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend this book.

However, today, I want to talk about fragrance, which is a whole entity in itself.

I won’t go on and on about the intricacies of creating a fragrance (this post covers a lot of it!), but here’s a primer.

The biggest divide between natural and synthetic fragrances lies in the way they are created. Plants, trees or animals comprise the basic elements of natural scents and run the gamut from lilac to sandalwood to deer musk. Synthetic fragrances are created in a laboratory, and although it may not be common knowledge, Mother Nature has absolutely nothing to do with almost two-thirds of the most popular fragrances made today used in perfumes and other scented products.

The modern lab is their source, and basically, there are three different types. These include: full synthetics, which are composed almost entirely from petroleum by-products; semi-synthetics, or natural fragrances that have been modified by artificial means, and natural isolates, which are aromas which fall somewhere in between natural and synthetic because they are developed by isolating one scent from a more complex aroma base such as that of a red rose.

Additionally, in terms of government regulation, “fragrance” is considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to disclose what it is. They just don’t have to. And so they don’t. Usually, it is a synthetic concoction that includes phthalates and synthetic masks, which are hormone disruptors, as well as chemicals that are allergens and neurotoxins.

In fact, because of these trade secret laws, the single word “fragrance” you see on labels can represent as many as several hundred additional chemicals that aren’t required to be listed. #WTF

But! It’s also important to point out that sometimes synthetics are a better choice for our planet. For example, massive deforestation has resulted from the production of natural sandalwood and rosewood, and the utilization of natural musk requires painful extraction from deer and other forest creatures. (Horrible!) All things to consider…it’s not so black and white. There are synthetics that don’t include phthalates, neurotoxins, and allergens, keep in mind.

Have I confused you enough? And, frankly, what does this mean for you? Well, it might behoove you to look into some cleaner fragrance brands – ones that are much more transparent about what they are using in their perfumes. Lucky for you, I’ve done some of the work already. These are some of the brands I’ve personally tested, which vary in their ingredients. Some use essential oils only, some use absolutes, some synthetics – so depending on how gung-ho you are, you might want to dig even deeper into the brands. (Frankly, after trying all these scents and writing this, I need a nap.)

Let’s get started!

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Odds and Ends

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1. Almost every successful relationship is successful for the same exact reasons. LOVE THIS.

2. Your name might influence the of shape your face? Interesting.

3. Speaking of face, I’ve been using this on my occasional “spots” and I love it…enter to win a free one for yourself!

4. Did you see this new statue on Wall Street? Good stuff.

5. The OG “Nasty Woman” got bangs. I like.

6. Newsflash: laziness isn’t why people are poor. And new iPhones aren’t why they lack healthcare.

7. What happens when bookstore employees get bored. Ha!

8. Don’t tell me you haven’t experienced this with a new highlighter.

9. Love the Avett Brothers. Can’t wait to see this documentary.

10. To raise brave girls, encourage adventure. Yes.

11. 12 things about being a woman that women won’t tell you. So flipping brilliant.

Happy Friday! Hope you enjoy your weekend. We’ll be packing and getting ready for our family trip to London and Paris next week! Any recommendations for either city would be greatly appreciated.

image credit: for all womankind

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On International Women’s Day…

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Definition of Feminism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

Growing up in a conservative environment, the term “feminist” made me pause. It was a word that made many around me scoff or roll their eyes, and conjured up images of ultra diehard women screaming in the face of authority. (Humanity is far better for these women existing, by the way.)

But me? Was I a feminist? I liked making mixtapes and baking with my mom and spending my allowance on lipstick. Is that what feminists were supposed to do? I certainly didn’t see myself wielding a bullhorn on a street corner.

But you see, that’s just it. Feminism doesn’t “look” like any one thing. Feminism is about giving women choice. Opportunity. Equality. It’s the daily decision you make to empower, support and lift up other women. As Emma Watson recently said, “Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom.”

Am I a feminist? HELL YES. Will I make the daily choice to empower, support, and lift up other women? HELL YES. And will I use this platform as my “bullhorn?” You better believe it.

On International Women’s Day, I choose to wear red in solidarity with those who support the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. I wear red to honor the women who’ve blazed the trails that I’m now marching on. But mostly, I wear red to celebrate the beauty and strength that all women possess.