Our sense of smell is a huge contributor to our everyday lives. Certain smells can make us happy, others down in the dumps. Sometimes, a smell can be so terrible, it makes us sick, literally. Everyday, our noses tell us what is good to eat and what is spoiled. Without realizing it, we naturally gravitate to smells we like, and each of us likes and dislikes different smells. Smell may even have contributed to who we married!
31 January 2012
When we shop, smell plays a huge role. We all like the “new car” smell. We smell our fruits and veggies before we buy them. And haven't we all seen people in the shampoo aisle taking off the lids of the bottles and smelling them? (That was me. Sorry!) In our skin and body products, a good fragrance is often equated with cleanliness and makes us feel good. Companies spend a bazillion dollars on fragrances! They are a key contributor to our buying decisions. Fragrance is so important, it has infiltrated our culture and become a part of how we define ourselves.
Most of the big brand products we buy use artificial fragrance in their formulas (you will see it on the ingredient list as parfum, perfume or fragrance). Beware! These words are clues! They mean the scent was created in a test tube, not in nature. So what? What's the big deal? No matter how good it smells, “perfume” is a secret hiding place for nasty chemicals like phthalates, coal tar and petroleum. Phthalates are industrial chemicals used as plastic softeners and in solvents. Have you ever installed a new shower curtain or new carpet? These things “off-gas” (give off a strong smell) for several days/weeks because of the phthalates that are in them. These same chemicals are probably in your favourite perfume, body lotion and shaving cream! They creep into your body through your skin and nose. Once in there, they set-up shop in your endocrine system. They go to work on your hormones and damage your lungs, liver and kidneys. They cause cancer too. Scary stuff!
Hey, I'm as guilty as anyone in terms of using too many perfumed products. I am helplessly addicted to vanilla musk and it's in my soap, lotion and cologne. Luckily, essential oils give us great scent (including vanilla musk!) without the chemical overload. Derived from the flowers, stems, roots and leaves of plants, they are 100% natural and non-toxic. They are also super-concentrated, so a little goes a long way. They can be used to add scent to any kind of cosmetic or body product, or dabbed on the wrist for personal use. In addition to smelling great, many have the added bonus of medicinal properties, like killing bacteria, treating insomnia, improving skin conditions and helping breathing difficulties.
Give synthetic fragrance the boot, would you? There are alternatives out there. If mother nature wanted us to scent ourselves with chemicals, why did she give us flowers?