Today most fragrances can be a health hazard

June 30th, 2017

My understanding of the negative effects of artificial fragrances deepened when I heard the author Kate Grenville speak in Melbourne recently. Kate Grenville wrote her latest book, The Case Against Fragrance, when she discovered after a long period of ill health with daily headaches that it was caused by artificial fragrances. She quoted a University of Melbourne study which found that one in three people suffer from health problems related to synthetic perfumes, with symptoms such as severe headaches, asthma attacks and respiratory problems.

When we use the words fragrance and perfume we think of enticing scents that we spray on ourselves for pleasure. However, perfumes are not all equal. These days artificial fragrances are used in manufacturing expensive perfumes and also in a wide range of cosmetics and skincare products. They are also used in many household products including laundry detergents, toilet paper, candles and even plastic bin liners.

Perfumes were first created with natural essential oils distilled from aromatic flowers, herbs and spices. In recent times Chemists learnt to separate the natural perfumes from sweet smelling flowers from their compounds down to individual elements to create synthetic compounds that mimic fragrances.

Every molecule of the smell of roses is a combination of carbon hydrogen and oxygen atoms with a chemical formula C13H18O.

Now the perfume industry is ‘big business.’ In 1986 the National Academy of Science noted that 95% of the chemicals used to make synthetic fragrances came from petroleum which included benzene derivatives.

 So, in the light of all this, is spraying these chemical perfumes on your body as well as using them many times a day in personal care products and household products really worth the risk? Kate Grenville points out that the Melbourne University study proves this to be a serious risk.

Although natural essential oils are expensive to make, this is exactly what we do at The Girl & The Olive.

In amongst our olive grove grows a healthy crop of Grampians Thryptomene, a native plant of the Myrtacea family. From a trailer load of Thryptomene flowers and leaves, we extract only 300 ml of essential oil.  This process takes time, labour and love and I believe it is the best way to produce fragrance which is safe for you to use.