Synthetic Fragrance Vs. Essential Oils

We’d like to open this blog with the wise words of Neil:


It’s an age-old debate. Which is better for you? Synthetic fragrances or the natural fragrances derived from essential oils?

Often people will tell you that synthetic fragrances are harmful. They’ll say things like they’re toxic, they’re irritating to the skin or they’re full of parabens, sulphates and other nasties. Most of the time these companies that tout this sell only one thing, natural products. Funny that…..This is marketing at it’s finest. We can use a simple emotion like fear to make someone think twice about buying a product based on how it’s fragrance is derived. Let’s bust a few myths about synthetic fragrances.

Not all synthetic fragrances contain nasty chemicals, in fact, we use a few synthetic fragrances across our range (as well as essential oils). We use cosmetic grade synthetic fragrances. These fragrances are specially designed for use on the body in products like perfume, soap, pomades, beard oils, etc.

A significant portion of synthetic fragrances is essential oils mixed in with a synthetic fragrance to give the desired outcome for your senses to go wild about.

Another concern that gets marketed to the uneducated is how synthetic fragrances can cause skin irritation. This is 100% true, what they often won’t tell you is that nearly every essential oil will as well. These oils and fragrances all contain something called an allergen. If your body doesn’t like it, you’ll know about it! Often with itchiness, hives or a rare but serious anaphylactic reaction. Something else worth noting is “natural”, or essential oils have far higher allergen compounds such as limonene, citral, cinnamyl alcohol, geraniol and eugenol just to mention a few, in fact, more than half of the allergens that have to be listed on the INCI charts are from natural or essential oils. It’s not uncommon for people with allergies to go down the synthetic pathway due to this.

Another concern that is often raised is the cytotoxic (cell death) behaviour of some synthetic fragrances. What we’re not often told about is that, in fact, some essential oils have the same level of cytotoxic behaviours as a synthetic fragrance, and on a broader spectrum these “tests” to show the cytotoxic behaviour of fragrance oils and essential oils are often carried out on liver cells and NOT dermal cells. Which raises the question as to why these test results are being treated as gospel when they’re not being tested on the part of the body you’re placing them on?

Lucky for us we offer the best of both worlds. You can see this by our no BS meter on all of our beard oils. It’s a quick visual guide to let you know exactly how the fragrance is made.

So what does this all boil down to? If you have sensitive skin and you’re concerned about the type of fragrance that is in a product, we’d suggest that you stick with one of our naked (fragrance-free) beard oils, balms or any other product from any other manufacturer.

So when picking a product purely based on how the fragrance is made, just be mindful that the chances of all these “nasty” things happening are about equal whichever way you swing, but remember, always do a patch test on your skin first. Doing a patch test will give you a true indicator of whether or not your body loves the fragrance or hates it!

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