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Scents of Nature

written by kyle roderick

scents of natureIt used to be that essential oils and natural perfumes were only available in health food stores and esoteric boutiques. With the mass interest in aromatherapy and green cosmetics, natural fragrances are increasingly available in stores and online– for many reasons.

The first is that many people are irritated by or allergic to synthetic chemicals that comprise most fragrances. “Many people find synthetic scents are instantly recognizable and irritating because of their chemical scents, preservatives and dyes” says Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment & Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. Furthermore, synthetic scents are designed to smell the same way on everyone. Indeed: how many times have you entered an elevator or department store and inhaled clouds of familiar-smelling synthetic scents that sting the eyes, make the nose run and irritate throat and lungs?

The opposite is true of natural fragrances, which smell notably different from person to person. This is because natural fragrances are free of chemicals and preservatives; they create a unique signature scent, whether custom-blended or not. While synthetic scents dominate space and are the aromatic equivalent of billboards, natural perfume clings closer to the skin and embodies the aromatic version of a handwritten letter.

What distinguishes natural fragrances from synthetic scents? All natural fragrances, such as the rose, lavender, citrus blends and other organic fragrances offered at www.findbliss.com are fabricated with traditional methods employed by perfumers before World War II and the birth of the chemical industry.

As any natural perfumer will tell you, before World War II, all perfume was completely natural and chemical free. Perfume was made the old-fashioned way, by combining extracts from flowers and plants that were almost always farmed organically or wildcrafted with 100% natural “spirits of wine” or wine alcohol distilled from grapes grown in French wine country. As the brilliant natural perfumers at www.rich-hippie.com explain, “After the war, the chemical industry, which had experienced rapid growth in response to the war effort, needed new markets to keep factories running.” So began the big business of manufacturing synthetic fragrances.

Naturally this was fueled by the fact that the price of synthetic flower and plant extracts used to make synthetic perfume was ultra-cheap compared to time-honored natural perfumery. Coco Chanel was one of the first business people to jump on the synthetic bandwagon: Chanel No. 5 contains aldehydes, synthetic chemicals that impart that “bright” scent to No. 5’s highly recognizable aroma.

With synthetic scents, uniformity of product is assured. With natural fragrances, there can be differences in flower scent due to various reasons. One of the least appetizing aspects of synthetic scents is that imitation flower and plant essences are blended with cheap alcohol made from petroleum instead of the wine alcohol of yesteryear.

What’s more, petroleum is a nonrenewable resource and is refined using harmful chemicals and additives that are known to cause cancer. Yuck! These synthetic chemicals often contain “hormone disrupters,” which in addition to damaging your cells, can also mimic hormone actions in the body that spur tumor growth. That ought to make you think twice the next time you buy scent for yourself or others.

Fortunately for aroma lovers and natural noses, there exists a virtual online bazaar of natural fragrances. In addition to the organic single note scents and blends available here at www.findbliss.com, there are also some beautiful ones available from Aftelier (www.aftelier.com). Inspired by heady multi-spice blends sold in North African souks, Aftelier recently introduced the seductive Parfum de Maroc ($100.00)

For women’s perfumes as well as irresistably unisex scents, the aforementioned www.rich-hippie.com is definitely worth clicking on. These organic and wildcrafted scents cost $85.00 a half ounce and are as long-lasting as they are lovely. Blooming with an intense bouquet of Madagascan vanilla bean, Madagascan ginger and organic sweet orange peel, Rich Hippie’s Psychedelic smells just as alluring on men as it does on ladies.

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