When I was a teenager, I used to douse myself in a questionable green-coloured body mist with a cucumber-melon scent that I could literally not. Get. Enough. Of. Nowadays, on the rare occasion I catch a similar whiff of that same scent (usually while walking through a shopping mall, if we’re being honest), I’m immediately transported back to those days of angsty song lyrics, face-scouring Oxy pads and those micro-sized butterfly clips we all used to twist the front of our hair into pseudo cornrows (kidding - I never mastered that look!).
Truth is, you’ve probably got a scent locked somewhere in your own memory bank that elicits a rush of emotional remembrances, because scent is special like that: it has the ability to instantly trigger long-forgotten memories.
And don’t the companies who create the many items we use on a daily basis – from detergents to styling products, from candles to cosmetics – know it! Fragrance is a big business – and one we should be wary about.
Here’s the thing: your skin is your body’s largest organ and is said to absorb roughly 60 percent of everything you apply to it. We need to be vigilant about the products we expose ourselves to.
Now, have a quick look at some of the commercial products you regularly use, and you’re bound to find “Fragrance” listed as one of the ingredients. Think you’re safe? This seemingly innocuous little word is also interchangeable with Perfume, Parfum, Essential Oil Blend (more on this later!), Aroma, Phthalate, DEP, DPB or DEHP. Yikes.
Each of these iterations signifies the inclusion of a synthetic fragrance, or rather, a chemical compound created in a laboratory to imitate a familiar scent or combination of scents. It’s said that approximately 95 percent of synthetic fragrance compounds are derived from petrochemicals. That’s right, friends: crude oil. Double yikes.
In fact, synthetic fragrances contain a slurry of harmful toxins, everything from carcinogenic benzene derivatives (a petrochemical also found in vehicle exhaust emissions and cigarette smoke), aldehydes (that would include the infamous formaldehyde!), toluene (a hydrocarbon used as a solvent), phthalates (plasticizing chemicals used as preservatives), parabens (yet another synthetic preservative, one known for its ability to disrupt the body’s endocrine system) and a range of other damaging chemicals.
And here’s the kicker: companies aren’t required to disclose the ingredients contained in their proprietary blend of chemicals based on a concept called “trade secrets.” That means you'll never know exactly what you're exposing yourself to using ingredients with synthetic fragrances.
Why exactly are synthetic fragrances so pervasive? The answer is multifaceted. For one, synthetic fragrances are monumentally less expensive than their counterparts, essential oils. They are also created in massive quantities, have a more “reliable” scent (essential oils can vary by batch), can be stored much longer and possess a stronger smell that generally lasts longer because of chemical scent fixatives.
The thing is, synthetic fragrances have been linked to a number of health concerns, everything ranging from headaches, asthma and contact dermatitis, to more serious conditions like central nervous system disorders, reproductive disease and cancer (in fact, because of the effect of synthetic fragrances on the body’s endocrine, or hormone-producing system, individuals diagnosed with cancer are often advised to eliminate their exposure to products containing synthetic fragrances).
The use of products containing synthetic fragrances also has a cumulative effect, meaning that the more regularly you use them, the more they gradually build in your system. The prevalence of synthetic fragrances may make them seem benign, but the reality is they add a tremendous amount of toxic burden on our bodies and can result in immediate and long-term issues.
And that’s something we’re just not okay with.
We’re sometimes asked why we don’t offer a wider range of fragrances in our products and bath bombs – exciting scents like coconut lime, root beer, banana, apple cinnamon or rainforest (that last one has us rather perplexed, by the way). Well, friends – the reason for this is that those exciting scents aren’t real. There’s no way to capture the scent of a banana without, obviously, smelling a banana, or, as you understand by now, artificially replicating the scent in a laboratory.
We have made a conscious choice to use only 100% pure essential oils in our products because we are committed to keeping self-care simple, and because we believe in the therapeutic properties that using only high-grade pure essential oils can provide.
But hold on! What exactly are essential oils? Well, actually, essential oils aren’t truly oils at all, but are highly concentrated botanical extracts derived from raw plant material, including flowers, fruit, bark, roots, leaves, and resin. In general, essential oils are created through a process of steam distillation, but in some cases, such as with citrus fruits, are derived through cold-pressing.
The process to produce essential oils requires large amounts of raw plant material, which is why it is always important to ensure the oils you’re using are sourced sustainably and ethically (we only choose suppliers specializing in high quality essential oils sourced from ethical producers).
Just as importantly, products labelled as 100% pure essential oil contain no synthetic additives. Be mindful of products advertising “essential oil blend” or “with essential oils,” as chances are high that a very small amount of essential oil has been diluted using synthetic fragrance.
Unlike synthetic fragrances, 100% pure essential oils boast a wide range of benefits for your skin, in addition to their aromatherapeutic properties. The essential oils we use in our products are hand-picked to best complement our unique formulas – and if we had to toot our own horns, we’d say we’re pretty proud of the results.
“Hold up! I was reading your labels, and the ingredients for your One Last Kiss Lip Shimmer lists ‘Fragrance.’ What gives?”
Well, friends, you’re not wrong – not completely, at least. Actually, the lovely lingonberry scent we use in our much-loved One Last Shimmer is 100% plant-based - no synthetic additives here! - and is created through a unique distillation process that isolates the molecules so they can be recombined into that delicious, fruity scent you adore. It’s not a 100% pure essential oil, which means we were required to label it as a fragrance. Cause, see, we’re all about transparency up in here!
We promise you that the more you weed out synthetic fragrances from your daily routine, the better you’ll begin to feel. In fact, don’t be surprised to eventually discover that all those artificial scents you once knew and possibly loved (the whole gamut, from pina colada to cucumber melon!) will become pretty intolerable (I recently tried a hair product so heavily scented with synthetic fragrance that I literally felt nauseous all day).
A big part of our vision all along has been to highlight the incredible therapeutic and healing properties of plant ingredients, in the form of botanical self-care. And we think our choice to use only 100% pure essential oils does just that.
Try it for yourself – and let us know what happens!