Monday, April 6, 2009

Recognizing Nature's Purfume

The difference between essential oils and fragrance oils can best be described by the comparison of a real slice of orange to a piece of sugary orange candy. The real orange has health benefits for the body. The color,shape, flavor, scent, taste and vitamins come directly from nature. An organe was created to nourish our body as well as provide vitamin C and numerous other health benefits. A piece of organce candy, on the other hand, gets its sweetness from sugar and its shape from gums. It is artificially flavored and colored, has no health benefits whatsoever and is more likely tan not to negatively affect our health.

The law does not prevent products from being labeled or sold as "essential oils" even if they contain synthetic fragrance chemicals. The practice is perfectly legal and runs rampant in the beauty and spa industry. You can claim that you use "essential oils" even if you use fragance oils, reconstitutes, adulterated oils, perfume compounds, aromas, synthetic fragrance ingredients or diluted essential oils. It is legal to claim that a product is made up exlusively from essential oils, even when it contains added synthetics.

There are many manufacuturers, even massage and lotion candle manufacturers, claiming that their product is made from essential oils...even when it is not. Scandle practices honesty and integrity when marketing their product, which is why we have two lines: The Scandle Originals made from body safe synthetic oils and The Scandle Essentials made from pure, plant-derived essential oils.

It seems that the only safeguards against the misleading practice are an educated nose and knowing exactly what plants do produce essential oils and from what part of the plant. Fo instance, you can get an essential oil out of the leaves of a strawberry plant, but it won't smell strawberry at all. It would smell herbaceous and green rather than sweet and fruity. If you are being sold a cosmetic containing "strawberry essential oil" that smells like strawberries, the product is being misrepresented.

The only fruits that produce essentail oils that smell like the fruit itself are citrus fruits (like our Uplifting Blend with Grapefruit Essential Oils). Some plants produce a variety of essentail oils from different parts of the plant. The best way to know the difference so that even a poorly labeled product will not sneak past you is to educate your nose by smelling an essential oils next to fragrance oils. Once you smell the difference for yourself, it is unlikely that you will ever be misled again.

Another dead give-away is price point. Synthetic fragrances are cheaper and always smell consistent because they are lab created. Nature does not produce the same exact scent for each and every harvest of plant material. Essentail oils can vary due to environmental differences from year to year and varying countries of origins of plant material.

I think it's high time that manufacturers quit misleading customers with false product information. But, until that happens, I think the only thing we can do as consumers is to educate ourselves and, in this case, our noses.

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