HI! Hola! Aloha! Its me, Karli Rose, owner, creator, and formulator for Bella Vita Apothecary.
There are so many things that I have learned, and am learning, on my journey as a cosmetic formulator. Today I’m going to share a little of what I have learned about fragrances. But first...a bit of my story.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have had sensitive skin. Redness, itching, and sometimes hives would happen, after using anything from bar soap to hair products.... and don’t get me started on laundry detergent! It was always a battle to find products that agreed with my skin, and then I would stay tried and true, a loyal devotee, until well.... they changed the formula, or discontinued my favorite product. OK.... the loss of finally finding that perfect product, only to have to start the process all over again! I know you feel me!!
It was at an early age that I became obsessed, just trying to figure out what the heck was so irritating to my skin. I soon discovered that the common factor in every product that I used was the word "fragrance" on the ingredient list.
From the migraines from burning candles to nausea from just walking through the department store fragrance section to get to those shoes (yes... it was once a major obsession. Then island living took over, and now I just wear slippahs, aka flip-flops, everyday!). Fragrances became a major avoidance for me. But I wanted things to smell nice. I didn’t always want to use unscented and I LOVE candles. As I got older and my sensitivity to fragrances grew and my shoe obsession started fading away, I really needed to understand why some fragrances bothered me and some didn’t. Why some health food store natural brands were fine, and others kept me up itching all night.
There are so many articles and blogs that claim anything listed as fragrance should be avoided. That fragrance on an ingredient label is one of the top five reasons not to buy! But I have found that this is.. absolutely.. not.. true and completely misleading. While yes, some fragrances are not good for you or the environment, not all fragrances are created equal. And the key to unlocking this knowledge, for me, was understanding labeling, what fragrances are,.....and contacting the maker and finding out exactly what they are using.
I soon discovered how broad of a term fragrance meant as an ingredient ..... and then I went down the rabbit hole. Omg! It’s deep. It took me to all kinds of places not only with added fragrance but with all ingredients in products. The mission of Bella Vita Apothecary was born out of these discoveries. Creating products that are not only safe for the environment but that are safe for you too, and inspiring a healthy and happy lifestyle. Living la Bella Vita (living a beautiful life )!
It's really important to understand that the FDA requires, anything that is added to a product for aroma, to be listed as fragrance. It’s a very broad blanket label and doesn’t specify anything in particular, like natural versus synthetic, or even how many ingredients a fragrance may contain. A good aroma is composed of three elements a top note, a middle note, and a base note. This goes for everything, from candles to skin care to laundry detergent and perfumes, anything that you use, the more complex the aroma, well, the more depth it has. But for companies like BV Apothecary, where our products come in tiny jars with not a lot of space for labeling, it’s hard to list every single essential oil in our aroma and fit it in a way that you can read it! So we put it all together and label it according to FDA guidelines, as fragrance. You can always go right to our website and see the complete list of ingredients or give us a call! We are completely transparent with our ingredients, as any good company should be. If a company is not willing to disclose to you exactly what is in their products, then that is a product I would be wary of, not the labeling of fragrance.
It’s also important to know what things create aroma. There are four ways to get fragrance in products. Either with essential oils, natural isolates, naturally derived botanicals, and of course synthetic fragrances.
Essential oils, I think most of us know what those are! They are 100% natural, they have therapeutic properties and come directly from the plants. As long as they’re not adulterated these are 100% natural. They impart a great aroma in everything, but you are limited to your aroma possibilities. Essential Oils are mostly going to be your Herbal, Wood, citrus, and some floral aromas. These are found in every product. Candles, soaps, body care and more......
Natural Isolates is personally my favorite category. They are 100% natural, but with how they are extracted, you can create unlimited aroma possibilities! You can create that amazing sense of tropical passion fruit or salted caramel but completely 100% natural. They can be used in anything that needs fragrance. These are fairly new and not widely available, but are increasing due to the demand for natural candle and body care aromas. These are found in every product. Candles, soaps, body care and more. Click here To learn more about Natural Isolates.
Naturally Derived Botanicals will only be found in skin, body and hair care. These delicate extractions or infusions are water and oil based, have therapeutic properties, but are sensitive to heat so you won’t find them in candles or artisinal soaps. They impart a beautiful aroma and healing properties, which make them a great addition in skin care.
And of course last and for me… certainly least! Synthetic Fragrances. Synthetic fragrances can contain up to 5000 elements created in a lab for a perfumer to work with, and can be used in any combination, to create a scent like vanilla to a concept aroma like beach spray or smoked salt. They can be labeled as skin safe, paraben free, phalate free etc., but this is only a list of a hand full of ingredients that have been deemed unsafe out of 100's that have not been tested here in the U.S.. Every synthetic fragrance that I have done research on is listed as a hazardous product that is harmful to aquatic life, skin irritaing and contain fumes that are caustic to the environment. They are also full of allergens and this is what I have discovered I am HIGHLY allergic to. For these reasons, I steer clear of these in any of my products that I use on myself or create for you to enjoy.
These can all be combined together as well. It is a common practice to add essential oils to synthetic fragrances and then label and promote "made with essential oils". Adding something natural to the chemicals doesn't cancel out the negative impacts, so if you are trying to avoid synthetics, this is something to be aware of.
Being informed will help you make better choices for your lifestyle, while still being able to enjoy the beautiful smells of nature on your skin and in your home.