The Ultimate Scent Showdown: Synthetic Fragrance v. Pure Essential Oils v. Natural Fragrance

We love to smell good – humans have been perfuming themselves with pleasantly scented plants and flowers for millennia. But as we learn more about the health risks associated with modern synthetic fragrance, it’s becoming less and less appealing to surround ourselves and those we love with a cloud of chemicals. Safely navigating the personal care aisle is much easier when you know what to look for, so here’s what you should know about the various scent options you may encounter

Synthetic Fragrance

Any product containing the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on its ingredient is scented with a synthetic fragrance. You can find synthetic fragrance in anything from perfume to lotion to cleaning products, and companies aren’t required by U.S. law to disclose exactly what’s in their proprietary fragrance blend…yet. So we have no way of knowing what we may be putting onto (and therefore into) our bodies when we use these products. They’re often made with phthalates and petrochemicals that have been linked to a number of health risks.

As more and more consumers demand products without synthetic fragrance, the term “natural fragrance” has begun showing up on ingredient lists and touted by manufacturers as a safe alternative to synthetics. But what exactly does it mean? Is natural fragrance actually natural or is this just another example of corporate cover-ups and greenwashing?

Natural Fragrance

Natural fragrance can mean a few different things, but typically it refers to a scent that is made from natural isolates. Isolates are molecules that have been extracted from a plant or botanical and processed specifically for their scent. The isolates from different essential oils can then be recombined to create a totally new scent blend profile. 

This is one of the main benefits of using scent isolates - the ability to create a wider variety of scents than Mother Nature ever could. Companies can now replicate synthetic fragrance using ingredients technically classified as “natural” and still claim to use “No Synthetic Fragrance.” The grey area involved in natural fragrance is one of the main reasons to avoid it.

It’s unclear exactly how the properties of the natural isolates are affected when removed from their natural state. It’s also unclear to consumers exactly what is being used to create these natural fragrances. Like synthetic fragrances, these blends are also considered proprietary information and therefore companies are not required to disclose. So even though you may know that a natural fragrance is made from isolates, you’ll never know which ones or what other ingredients may have been used.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are entire compounds derived and extracted from plants, usually through steam distillation or cold pressing. The essential oil captures the scent and flavor of the plant – its entire essence. Besides being concentrated and highly aromatic, essential oils also offer therapeutic benefits that man-made scents and highly processed oils cannot.

On ingredient lists, essential oils are listed separately, meaning you’ll know exactly which plants were used in a particular product. So if you’re looking for all-natural personal care products that smell scentsational and have nothing to hide, look no further than pure essential oils.

That’s why we make Primal Pit Paste with organic, pure essential oils – never any fake fragrance or secret blends. If you want to know what’s in any of our products, simply check the website! We publish full ingredient lists because we believe you deserve to know exactly what you’re putting on your body.

What are your thoughts? Would you use products with "natural fragrance"? Share in the comments below! 


Disclaimer: This site is not designed and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. The content on this website is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and is not intended to be relied upon for medication or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider if you have questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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