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Essential Oils

March 16, 2012

I used to think that all fragrances in personal care products were bad, but then I learned about essential oils.

Essential oils are concentrated liquids that contain the strong aroma compounds of various plants. They are typically extracted from the plant through distillation and give a highly fragrant scent if their pure form. They are taken from various parts of the plant, including flower petals, leaves, twigs, bark or skin of a fruit from the plant. The process of extraction can be a lengthy one and has to be done properly to maintain the integrity of the oil.

While some cheaper or synthetic versions may be available, they do not have the same properties as the pure and natural essential oils.  Beware of synthetic scented oils as many contain hormone disrupting ingredients and other toxins.

Essential oils are widely used to naturally add scent to more “natural”  cosmetics, soaps, cleaners, etc. Depending on the scent and the plant that they come from, different oils are used to serve different purposes. Each oil features its own distinct qualities and aromas, and frequently used in conjunction with others to create a specific result, such as soothing anxiety and stress, easing nausea, or relieving headaches. For instance, lavender and chamomile essential oils can be used in baby care products to provide a natural calming effect.

While they can be most costly as an ingredient, it takes very few drops of an essential oil to create a positive effect on any formulation and provides a great alternative to using fragrance oils and perfumes.  It’s worth it to do your research and choose products that are fragranced with essential oils.

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