Story telling from Australia
Finding beauty products when you can’t tolerate synthetic fragrance is tricky. Any amount of fragrance – however slight – and I get a headache, runny nose, sore eyes and tight lips. When it’s really bad my teeth tingle. I get agitated. It’s not panic exactly, more an oppressive sense of growing alarm that there’s no fresh air.
The desert air of Broken Hill was a joy compared to Sydney.
Sometimes, sitting in my studio in the back yard, I can tell when a neighbour has put the washing on. I can smell that someone’s got an important meeting or a hot date by the quantity of perfume or aftershave they’ve used. I just hope they’re not going to meet someone like me.
Essential oils are 100% pure and natural so they’re fine but synthetic fragrance contains benzene and formaldehyde, both of which cause cancer in humans. The percentage is miniscule, which is why it’s allowed, yet somehow I react to that miniscule percentage.
The problem comes when companies add a trace of essential oil to a base of artificial fragrance then make up a fancy product description and twitter on about the beauty of ‘naturally derived ingredients’ and tout their ‘earth-friendly’ credentials.
I’ll know something’s up at the first whiff.
All of our natural ingredients are sourced from organic farms. Yes, but do they contain any unnatural ingredients as well?
I hesitate to name and shame but there are companies out there claiming to produce 100% natural products that contain fragrance. They call it ‘aroma’ in the hope you won’t notice.
Essential oils have served us well since 4,500 BC. The best book I’ve ever found on their extraordinary power is The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia.
Sadly, artificial fragrance has taken over. It’s added to nearly everything, from toilet rolls and dishcloths to bin liners, never mind shampoos, conditioners, washing powders and cleaning products.
So if you come across someone in a supermarket discreetly sniffing toilet rolls, please don’t call security.
It’s probably just someone like me.