What the heck are fragrance oils? (And a mini-rant)

Labels for beauty products are regulated by the FDA; ingredients are required to be listed by their INCI code, but fragrances do not require anything more specific than "fragrance" on labels. Well, what's in them?

The short answer is that fragrance oils consist of aroma chemicals, essential oil parts, and essential oils.

First, full disclosure: I am NOT on the "all chemicals are bad" bandwagon. I also do not appreciate the fear-mongering and propaganda that is coming from a lot of the "health watch" websites. Some chemicals may indeed be harmful, but that needs to be based on hard scientific research. For example (and I am about to duck from the tomato tossing), there is actually NO scientific basis for the "parabens scare."

Here are just a few excellent resources on the actual science surrounding parabens:

Okay- let's move back towards fragrance oils! What are they? If you do a search on them, information is surprisingly vague. (Beyond the fire & brimstone surrounding phthalates, of course!) Not only is it vague, but it largely (rather offensively) has the air of "you don't need to know." After digging for hours, the best I could do is get you a list of "commonly used" ingredients in fragrance oils. It seems exact ingredients are very closely guarded as "proprietary." This is understandable, of course, but honestly it shouldn't be so hard to get information. 

The long answer is provided by various fragrance oil manufacturers below:

From Nature's Garden:   

Fragrance oils are a mixture composed of essential oils, synthetic aroma chemicals, and aromatic resins.  In order to achieve the scent that a perfumist is trying to achieve, the perfumist has more than 3000 different fragrance ingredients that she may use (natural and synthetic).  These ingredients come in the form of liquid, powder, or crystalline.  In order for a perfumist to be able to dissolve the powder and/or crystalline ingredients into liquid oil, she must use solvents.  A common solvent that has been used for over 50 years is DEP (Di Ethyl Phthalate).  While this solvent has been declared as safe by even the most intense worldwide standards, many companies, such as Natures Garden, decided years ago to only add fragrance oils to our line that were phthalate-free (at the request of many customers).  Additionally, 99% of our old fragrance oils were reformulated phthalate-free years ago; our perfumist used alternative solvents that were phthalate-free...A perfumist can either duplicate an aroma by use of gas chromatographic (GC)-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) (which shows her the ingredients contained in a fragrance), or she can create a unique fragrance oil by combining the right combinations of top, middle, and base notes. (source)

From Soap Queen:
There are over 3500 materials (aroma chemicals, essential oils and essential oil components) that are approved for use in fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are not policed by the FDA; rather, they are a self-regulated body. Each individual ingredient is tested for things such as irritation, solvency, absorption, to physical characteristics like flash point, specific gravity, and flammability as well as more serious things, such as carcinogenic indicators etc… Once an ingredient is fully tested, the results are published in a peer-reviewed journal. A group called ‘RIFM’ performs all the tests (RIFM stands for Research Institute for Fragrance Materials). (source)  

At the end of the day, fragrance oils obtained from reputable manufacturers pose no health risk. While some individuals do indeed possess allergies and extreme sensitivity to fragrance oils, those individuals are less common than you might think. If this is something that concerns you, we encourage you to read through product reviews to see if anyone else has reported any sensitivity! We keep our fragrance oil concentration at less that 2% of the total formulation; this low amount is normally very well tolerated by skin.


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1 comment

Informative post
Thanks for sharing
Keep doing more blogs

Nesstate Flora

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