Odours - the nice, the not so nice and the ones you should avoid. 

  • Anat Edwy

Odours are a natural part of our life; pleasant smells or not-so-great ones constantly surround us. 

Some odours attract us, and some provoke memories or bursts of emotions.

Whenever I smell the salty beach air, it takes me back to my sun-washed childhood in a city by the sea. I can even feel the warmth of the sand between my toes and taste the sweetness of the watermelon we brought as a snack. That smell always brings feelings of calm and happiness. And I am not alone! So many of us have had experiences where a particular smell, perhaps freshly baked bread, the musty and woodsy smell of the forest or a freshly brewed cup of coffee, floods our brain with memories of a specific event or location that we associate clearly with certain emotions.

On the other hand, some odours repulse us. Some bring us bad memories, and some we're happy to hide. For example, I can't stand the smell of heavy sweat; it takes me right back to a long and crowded bus ride in the peak of summer heat when I used to hide my nose and breathe through the fabric of my t-shirt.

No wonder I've ended up making deodorants for a living :)

We don't like certain smells. Like the smells from your bathroom, bins, kitchen, stuffy rooms, shoes and even our car…

So, how can we make those bad smells go away quickly and effectively?

There are two approaches, the conventional one and the natural one.

The conventional approach is masking the smells using household items like air fresheners, candles and diffusers.  

The aromas from those items are fake, synthetic scents made in a lab from manmade chemicals. There's a lot of research on synthetic/artificial fragrances linking them to many adverse side effects on health.

People unknowingly buy body & house products laden with a chemical cocktail of harmful anonymous substances, including carcinogens, allergens, respiratory irritants, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals, and petroleum-derived environmental toxicants.

According to statistics, body and household products may contain up to 3,000 toxic elements. None are labelled on the ingredients list. Only the makers of these concoctions know what they are. 

The natural approach is to neutralise the odour using the right amount of essential oils made from raw materials with natural anti-bacterial properties. The essential oils not only smell nice but also cleanse the air and eliminate unwanted smells, not just mask them. As a result, the scented air left after using essential oils is pleasant and healthy to breathe and doesn't affect the health and quality of our environment. 

The problem is that there are so many aromatic products on the market. So which ones should we use?

Check the labels

Like many of us who check the ingredients on the back of food labels, we need to do the same in every scented household and cosmetic product.

If the label is not enclosing the ingredients or labels everything under the umbrella name "perfume", be very suspicious!

If the label is filled with names you can't pronounce, like Phthalates, Benzisothiazolinone and Dialkyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, chuck them out; they might be hazardous for your health and super toxic.

For example, Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring, wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other fragranced preparations. As a result, we are exposed daily to Phthalates from many sources, including the air, drugs, food, plastic, water, and cosmetics.

Phthalates are powerful endocrine disruptors implicated in several wide-ranging health issues, including certain cancers, asthma, obesity, male fertility issues and birth defects.

How to avoid exposure to Phthalates?

You can check the ingredients online or use an app like the "Chemical Maze", which reveals how particular food and cosmetic ingredients can damage our health.

And yes - natural ingredients may also have complicated botanical names that many people are unfamiliar with but will always have their common name written next to them - like Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil).

Check the name 

If you choose to buy scented products, Look for the word "essential oils". However, be careful if the label lists words like "Fragrance Oil", which are artificial fragrances with a name made to trick us into thinking they are natural and safe.

So what's the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils, and are all essential oils safe?

The main difference between fragrance oils and essential oils is that fragrance oils are manufactured in a lab and contain undisclosed synthetic chemicals created to try and mimic nature. Unlike essential oils, they have no healing powers and are used in various products for scenting purposes only. On the other hand, essential oils are derived from real plants. They are most commonly used in Aromatherapy - the healing practice of using natural essential oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being, and in natural products for their health properties and beautiful aroma. 

But remember that not all Essential oils are safe to use. The chemical compounds found in essential oils are highly concentrated. Only professionals know how to dilute them carefully and which essential oils not to use.  

Check the price

Many companies use synthetic fragrances because they are cheap and offer unique scents like popcorn and caramel, raspberries and cream or even figs and melon. However, these scents are not extracted from essential oils, as we cannot yet derive a scent from most fruits (except for citrus). So if a product lists those fruity scents as part of the ingredients, that should tell you that those are synthetic fragrances.

Products containing genuine natural fragrances (essential oils) will be more expensive as they are costly to extract. For example, it takes 10,000 roses to fill a single 5ml bottle of Rose Essential Oil. So if you paid $18 for a 50ml bottle of rose perfume, it's not the real deal.

Learning which scented products are good for you and are made with your health in mind takes time. 

My rule of thumb- check online the company that manufactures the product you're after. Read their statements about ingredients and health, and don't forget to take your time and make an educated decision. Your health is much more important, and you need to maintain it by avoiding products that may harm you in the short and long run.

















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