In many products isolates are used for enhanced effect. Isolates are the main molecular constituents in an essential oil, such as menthol in peppermint-oil, linalool in lavender, methyl salicylate in wintergreen or limonene in lemon. This means that the main constituent in an essential oil has been isolated and removed to be used on its own. The problem is that some of these isolates can be harmful to the body as the synergy is lost.
Synergy is when different parts together make up a whole. In most plant-matter there is a natural balance between activating and calming substances. For example essential oil of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum): Its main molecular constituent is eugenol, up to 77%. It stimulates circulation and is anti-infectious. It is also a known skin-irritant in high doses. In proper dilution the whole essential oil is very useful for sore muscles, painful areas and as an anti-infectious agent. Clove oil is used in dentistry thanks to its anti-infectious and analgesic properties. The isolated eugenol is corrosive and toxic to the liver.
- Nutrition: Isolates are widely used as flavour-enhancers.
- Perfumes: They are mostly made up of synthetic aromas which are cheaper and more stable. Sometimes isolates are used. (eugenol in Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent)
- Sports-products: To warm and stimulate muscles before training and to cool and sooth aches and sprains. Most widely used isolates are menthol, camphene, methyl salicylate. It is not always clear if isolates or synthetics are used. Most of these isolates are strong skin-irritants in high doses – hence the warming / cooling effect on the skin. There have been a lot of discussion about the use of methyl salicylate, found in Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) up to 98%. (Article)
- Skin-care: Isolates are used as perfuming-agents in many skin-care products. Sometimes, especially in natural or bioproducts, both essential oils and isolates are used. Isolates are much cheaper to use than essential oils. Here is a list of perfume-agents in a hand-cream: Citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool. All of these are noted to come from certified organic growers and from natural essential oils… (Check out earlier posts on natural & organic skin-care)
What is definite is that there is no way of knowing if the aromatic ingredients in a product are from natural sources (unless stated) or if they are produced synthetically…which means that there is no way to know if they will be harmful or not.
Posted in Aromatherapy, perfume, Product information, Skincare
Tagged clove bud, essential oil, eugenol, hazardeous, isolates, linalool, menthol, methyl salicylate, natural, Nutrition, perfume, skin-care, skin-irritant, sport-products, synthetic, toxic, wintergreen
Your perfume may not be as rosy as you’d like to believe. Even though perfume may evoke images of a field of wildflowers, it actually consists of a variety of synthetic chemicals that are manufactured in laboratories. Many perfume ingredients are far from natural. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) listed 20 common perfume ingredients on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list, such as benzene, benzyl alcohol, limonene, acetone and ethanol. Many of these chemicals list headaches, nausea and other complications as side effects.
Up until the 20th century most perfumes were made with natural animal or plant ingredients and were a luxury to have. Perfume became more accessible with the introduction of synthetic ingredients. The first synthetic fragrance was created from coal tar. Now waste byproducts could be used to make fragrances that smelled like flowers and be sold to the masses for less money.
Over 4,00 chemicals are used in today’s fragrances. According to a 1991 study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 95 percent of these chemicals are derived from petroleum and some are potentially hazardous. Common ingredients found in perfumes are: acetone, ethanol, benzaldehyde, formaldehyde, limonene, methylene chloride, camphor, ethyl acetate, linalool and benzyl alcohol. Phthalates and synthetic musks are also commonly used potentially hazardous ingredients.
EPA Material Safety Data Sheets for the most poplar perfume ingredients list many nasty side effects from exposure. Acetone, often found in cologne, acts as a central nervous system depressant and can cause nausea, dryness of the mouth and slurred speech. Inhalation of ethanol vapors can produce symptoms similar to those of indigestion. Benzaldehyde is a narcotic and a local anesthetic. Limonene is a carcinogenic and should not be inhaled. Methylene chloride was banned by the FDA in 1988 but still may pop up in fragrances due to lack of enforcement. Another carcinogenic substance is benzyl acetate, which has been linked to pancreatic cancer. All these chemicals are found in everyday perfumes and are readily absorbed into the body with every spritz.
Even though personal-care products must list their ingredients, fragrances can keep their ingredients a secret because they fall into the “trade secret” category. Critics saytThe FDA is lax on regulations for the fragrance industry. The word “fragrance” may be used on any product that has a given odor, but there’s no telling what “fragrance” can stand for. It may contain one or 100 chemicals.
Many people experience adverse side effects when exposed to second-hand perfume. People with asthma or allergies generally don’t tolerate being around fragrances. Chemical sensitivity, also referred to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or Environmental Illness, is a condition in which people experience headaches or breathing difficulties from exposure to fragrance. Some workplaces have banned employees from wearing perfume as a result of these conditions.
(source: Sarah Valek, e-How)