Have you noticed when having a flu and your nose is blocked that not even food tastes as much. Fragrances are an integral part of our lives and give information about the surrounding world. Smell and odour can function as a warning signal while on the other hand it can also work as a calming and safety bringing element. Our sense of smell is a multifaceted sense and is proven to be closely connected with memories and emotions.
I Want to Smell Good!
Humans enjoy fragrances and most synthetic fragrances are designed to imitate authentic fragrances from nature, flowers and pheromones. Are we searching for a deeper connection with our primal nature connection by using fragrances? Humans have once received much more information through our sense of smell than today. Much of our emotions are due to smells, although we may not be aware of this. The blooming of lilac in the spring, the vibrant green scent of birch whisk used in the sauna, fresh and cool scent of the forest, the smell of newly baked bread or the scent of the ocean can recall a detailed moment in life that we would otherwise not have remembered.
Fragrances as a Moneymaker
The world of senses and peoples need to sniff on things creates a lucrative business within the making of synthetic fragrances. What is unfortunate with synthetic fragrances is that they are misleading. Instead of smelling a flower field you may in reality fill your lungs with for instance phthalates, which are also used in plastics as plasticizers (which are often used in synthetic fragrances to prolong its lifespan and prevent from evaporating). Synthetic fragrances are not made from what they smell, but from combinations of tens sometimes even hundreds of substances which are imitating nature's own fragrances. In the design of synthetic fragrances eight themes that are mimicked from nature are used, these can be called fragrance families (The Finnish Cosmetic and Detergent Association)
. According to the Finnish Cosmetic and Detergent Association they are called:
- cypress (contains oak moss, patchouli and bergamont)
- oriental (masculine and feminine)
- aromatic as well as
- hesperide (citrus scents, masculine and feminine)
Fragrances are protected and patented property by many large companies and therefore it is not necessary to list the ingredients it actually contains. The reason to why this information can be left unsaid is justified by the fact that the company designing the fragrance can remain competitive. In a cosmetic product a synthetic fragrance is often referred to only as fragrance or perfume.
Are Perfumes and Synthetic Fragrances Harmful?
Fragrances travel a fairly short distance to the olfactory system in the brain, which is connected to the limbic system. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has listed 3059 ingredients reported to have been used in perfume compounds. There is evidence from many of these 3059 compounds that connects them to health effects, including cancer, brain development in young children, reproductive issues, allergies, migraine and hypersensitivity. A constant exposure to synthetic fragrances have also been associated with a decrease in the immune system and thereby also as one of the mechanisms of atopic skin formation.
Especially pregnant women and children should avoid strong fragrances. I would also like to remind people working with young children and youth to think about the use of fragrances. A constant exposure to strong fragrances is harmful for the development of the brain and hormonal function. Children do not yet know how to demand their own fragrance-free space, therefore the responsibility lies with adults.
Essential Oils are a Natural Alternative
Essential oils are produced from plants and are a water repellent liquid that contain evaporative aromas. The most common way of making essential oils is to steam distillate, where water vapor is passed through the plant mass. Essential oils have been used for more than 6000 years for the care and wellbeing of the body and mind. Nowadays essential oils are widely used in cosmetics, aromatherapy and in food and beverage seasoning as well as in the making of medicines. Essential oils are made from the flowers, leaves, roots, fruits and resin of plants containing aromatic substances.
Here a Few Essential Oils in Kolme Cosmetics Products:
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis Oil)
Nettlemary Shampoo Bar(tarkista tuotenimi ENG) the essential oil from rosemary together with nettle helps in the care and balance of sebum production. Shampoo bars are therefore suitable for care of an oily scalp. The nettlemary series also contain a facial cleansing sorbet(ENG tuotenimike).
Tee Trea Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia Oil ) is an effective skin cleanser, an antibacterial essential oil and is therefore well suited for spots and impurities. The balancing and cleansing effect in tea tree oil is the most efficient in “Aktiivihiili-facial soap” (ENG tuotenimi) and the tea tree oil deodorant cream(ENG tuotenimi) which efficiently eliminates odours.
Peppermint (Mentha Arvensis Oil) is a refreshing and uplifting essential oil. Pure Shampoo Bar (ENG tuotenimi) is suitable for the treatment of dandruff and symptomatic scalp and smells of refreshing peppermint and eucalyptus.
Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Oil)
Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are useful in the cleansing milk powder and deodorant cream.
Safe Use of Essential Oils
Essential oils are beneficial but powerful substances and their safe use requires knowledge. Some essential oils can even be harmful in excessive amounts. They should never be used as such straight on the skin and especially not internally. It should be avoided to generalize about the effects of essential oils, because the essential oils available from different plants have different effects. You can read more about safe ways of using essential oils from the Finnish Kuura Essential homepage https://kuuraessentials.fi/pages/essential-oil-safety They can also provide you with high quality, ready to use and safe essential oils for the well being of the body and mind https://kuuraessentials.fi/collections/all
Fragrances in Natural Cosmetics
Synthetic fragrances are forbidden in natural cosmetics, but I want to remind you that natural cosmetics is not a standardised term. In practice this means that there is no law nor authority controlling what products called natural cosmetics contain. Therefore it is very important to know how to read the list of ingredients in order to know what it contains. Even certificates are different and completely independent certificates are hard to find. If you wish to avoid synthetic fragrances, avoid products which INCI says the word fragrance or perfume. Essential oils are commonly marked with the latin name of a plant following the word oil. For example Rosemarinus Officinalis Oil (rosemary), Lavandula Angustifolia Oil (lavender).
Essential oils are allowed in natural cosmetics and when used in a correct way they are very beneficial for skin care. All cosmetic products within the EU need to fulfill the Cosmetics Directive by the European Union (2003). Each product must be screened (SPSR - Cosmetic Product Safety Report) and they need to be notified to the EU cosmetic products portal (CPNP - Cosmetic Product Notification Portal). One part in the safety regulation is to control the use of essential oils in the recipes. A maximum amount is regulated and these amounts vary depending on if the product is e.g. to be washed away (e.g. soap) or to be left on the skin (e.g. deodorant or face cream).
The Philosophy of Kolme Cosmetics Products
We only use 100% essential oils in our products and only in moderation and when needed. In our Soap Bar Series (ENG nimike) and especially in our Shampoo Bar Series we have used essential oils that support the well being of the scalp and the hair. In our assortment you can also find a completely fragrance free series Sensitive, from which you will find completely fragrance free products.
What thoughts does this blog post provoke in you? Have you paid attention to all the places in which fragrances are used? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts!
Jari Tuominen 2012, Tuoksujen ihmeellinen maailma
IFRA. IFRA Ingredients, 2015. Available online: http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/ingredients#.VW-Cdc-6eUk.
European Commission. Allergenic fragrances in cosmetic products
You Asked: Is Perfume Bad for Me?