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!