What's wrong with a long-lasting fragrance?

Posted by Liz Cook on

You may have noticed that your natural perfumes don’t last as long as your synthetic ones. That may feel like the downside of switching to natural, but when you understand why, you may not feel like it’s a downside after all.

First things first - let’s clear up which perfumes are actually natural and which ones are synthetic.

You may be a high-end perfume wearer, forking out $250+ a bottle for your favorite bottle of scent, believing that the price is an indicator of quality and naturalness. Quality - yes. Naturalness - no. The price you pay for your perfume is no indicator that the product contains any natural ingredients at all. In fact, 99% of the perfumes you find in department stores, niche boutiques and beauty meccas are in fact 99-100% synthetic. (Sorry to be a buzz-kill).

If you want to use a truly natural perfume, the packaging needs to state clearly that it is made from 100% natural ingredients.

Ok, now back to the topic at hand.

What is wrong with a long-lasting fragrance? And why do natural perfumes not linger as long as synthetics?

Molecules derived from nature will biodegrade because they are natural, and succumb to the same principles of nature as anything else that is natural - grass, oranges, or last week’s lasagna. If it is from nature, it will start to degrade once exposed to oxygen. 

Natural ingredients in perfume will start to break down on the skin once they are sprayed; it’s both the exposure to oxygen and the bacteria on your skin, as well as body heat, environment etc that start the process, and natural molecules will not resist that.

Synthetic chemicals used in perfumes do not degrade easily. In fact, some molecules, such as synthetic musks, persist in the environment and appear to not break down at all. On the skin, these molecules linger indefinitely, and are partially absorbed by our bodies, and partially washed off next time we shower. (Synthetic musks are also strong endocrine disruptors, and have also been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease).

Synthetic molecules are engineered to maintain their scent for longer, and virtually stay the same throughout the drydown of the perfume. In addition, synthetic fragrances contain many other chemical additives designed to help the scent adhere to the skin and last longer, commonly diethyl phthalate (DEP) and benzyl salicylate. 

DEP is a phthalate, basically a liquid plastic, which helps hold scent to the skin longer, but it can also cause endocrine (hormone) disruption that can lead to some pretty serious health consequences (such as neurological and hormone damage to unborn babies, anxiety, precocious puberty, lung and liver damage and more).

Benzyl salicylate has been shown to cause dysfunction to estrogen levels in our bodies, and is also an environmental toxicant, and a strong irritant to eyes, nose, skin and lungs.

So now when you think about natural perfumes not lasting as long, you might not feel short-changed. In fact, you may even feel glad.




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