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Fragrance oils versus essential oils - which is better?

By Healthy Planet Blog Aromatherapy at Home
on June 15, 2012
1 comment

Are essential oils better than fragrance oils? And why?


What is an essential oil versus a fragrance oil – why does it matter?

My first introduction into using fragrance oils commercially was back when we were making candles. I love fragrance! And I absolutely loved smelling my candles. Then along came essential oils. The first batch I purchased smelled (I thought at the time) pretty awful – I mean compared to my spiced apple and antique lilac! I purchased them because I had learned that essential oils have medicinal value that can’t be denied. I’ve learned since then that essential oils smell so much better once you’ve gotten off the “fragrance oil addiction wagon”. There is a difference. Other than the fact one causes me to have headaches and the other helps me relax, heals wounds, and helps me have a good night’s sleep.

So, why is there a debate about which is better than the other? Synthetic fragrances used to be cheaper. Not necessarily the case anymore as many of the “synthetic” fragrances also contain essential oils and the price of many essential oils has gone up drastically. Synthetic fragrances always smell consistent – at least from one brand or supplier to the next. Essential oils can vary from batch to batch depending on something as varying as the weather at the time they were grown, not to mention the differences in how they are distilled. Although I read somewhere that there are anywhere from 2000 to 5000 raw fragrance components used to formula fragrance oils.

So what's with the phthalates?

Then there are the phthalates. I won’t go into details here – just google it and someday I will blog about it, but in our opinion phthalates are to be avoided. Have we always done that? Well, no. We had to learn better. To my delight, it is now possible to source fragrance oils that still smell good and ARE phthalate free. They still give me a headache though. I can use them in our soaps without problems – and I don’t say that just so you’ll think our using fragrance oils in our soaps is okay. It’s actually the other way around. I had pretty much ditched our fragrance oils and they were locked up in a closed cabinet in a closed bedroom until I could figure out how to dispose of them, but upon request from a customer made a batch of lilac soap. It smelled heavenly, I could even use it on my face and it didn’t cause my eyes to water or my head to ache. We’ve since tried different fragrances in our soaps to see if we have the same results. Bottom line though, the essential oils, although expensive, serve many purposes and do not cause my immune system to go into high alert because something foreign is coming into my air space. And again though, saying that, our magnolia soap is one of my most favorite soaps to use, especially if I want to relax and soak for a long period of time. I realize the health benefits aren’t there, but aromatherapy isn’t always about aroma-THERAPY. So, even I'm conflicted about it and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone more passionate than I am about essential oils and their benefits.

So which is better? 

That is your choice. You do have the right to know, however, which one is being used in the product you are purchasing. Many more people are coming to us with fragrance sensitivities – many more! You will see products on the store shelves that say they are full of “lavender”, when in fact they are full of synthetic chemicals. Even natural isolates are being used in many of the “natural” or “organic” products on the shelves. These are cheaper and again, more consistent in their fragrance and easier for the large commercial companies to use. Believe me – they could NOT sell you their lavender cleaning sprays and laundry wash if they were using pure aromatherapy grade (for lack of a better term) of lavender essential oil. There are many ways you can be fooled and fragrance companies do not have to disclose their ingredients as they are allowed to claim intellectual knowledge and seriously, the list would be too long to put on a label anyway. And would you even know what those names were? It’s an individual choice and I don’t like that people are demonized because they may like fragrance oils and choose to use them. I personally have been criticized and my credibility questioned as a clinical aromatherapist because we choose to use some fragrance oils in our soaps. It hurt and still does, but it seems everyone is conflicted on this subject. Essential oil use in soaps is an entirely different discussion as not all essential oils will come through the soap making process - what a colossal waste of a good essential oil if it doesn't, just to be able to say you use ONLY essential oils in your soaps.

The bottom line – educate yourself. 

If you have sensitivities to a particular brand of lavender, don’t throw out ALL lavenders as being bad – the real deal lavender essential oil  may be just what you need to calm your sensitivities! Lavenders are the most adulterated and there are many different varieties with varying properties from relaxing to stimulating. Know what plants DO produce “essential” oils and from what part of the plant. You won’t find a strawberry essential oil – you might now find a “natural” strawberry fragrance made from what they call nature identical – made in the lab or even extracted from the plant itself. If it is an essential oil, it will have a country of origin, it will have a botanical name and chemotype – and MOST IMPORTANTLY – it will have the natural synergy from the true plant. Once you learn how essential oils really smell, you WILL know when you are smelling a synthetic fragrance oil – or even a nature identical – just not the same. When I compare the true lavender essential oil that we use in our products versus the lavender fragrance oil we once used in our candles (and thought at the time that it was SO NICE), it is amazing to me that I ever thought that! Now, I just wrinkle my nose when I smell the false lavender. You may find just as I did that essential oils are something you can breathe in deeply, but if you take an opened bottle of synthetic fragrance oil, you simply can’t do that. Or if you do, it’s not enjoyable.

An expert's opinion:

And finally, I decided rather than just trying to explain it myself, I'm attaching a link to the very BEST explanation of what defines an essential oil. This is from someone who can easily be said to be the foremost authority on all things pertaining to essential oils. Take a moment to peruse his blogs. You will get hooked on essential oils.

Oh! And did I mention that essential oils are natural - truly natural - so they are not a threat to our environment.

Thanks for listening!


Natural Hair Rinse for Redheads

By Home Spa and Beauty Recipes Botanical Nail and Hair
on August 22, 2011
1 comment

Alkanet root for red hair highlights!


Okay - I have to admit it, I'm not a natural redhead. Hmmm - and nope, this is not a picture of me (I wish.) So many people are surprised when I tell them that. Yes, I have the natural coloring for a natural redhead plus lots of freckles and I am of Irish descent, but the red comes from a bottle. Now, that I've gotten that out of the way, here is a quick and easy recipe for those of us who want red highlights without having to use harsh, potentially carcinogenic, hair products from your local beauty supply store - or wherever it is you buy these things. I also have to admit I haven't tried this yet, but I think it is definitely worth the effort. I'm also thinking it would be great to use between colorings. I have alkanet root powder because we use it in our soaps, but I'm not sure how readily available it would be for you locally - perhaps the health food store? I do know we purchase ours from Mountain Rose Herbs and love doing business with them. They also carry the whole root and apparently this is a common dye for all sorts of different projects from soap to clothing. All of their products if not organic, are wild-crafted and tested for pesticides and other things you really don't want. Here's a picture of what we purchase to use as a natural colorant for our soaps. Not the greatest picture with my new camera and I'm obviously still figuring out all the settings but I'm like a kid at Christmas learning how to play with their new toy.

certified organic alkanet powder


1 cup (250 ml) filtered water
1 tbsp (15 ml) alkanet root (I will use the powder, I think the recipe means to use the actual root - not really sure)

Bring the water to a boil. Place the alkanet root in a glass jar. Pour the boiling water over the alkanet. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the infusion.

To use: Shampoo and rinse hair as usual. Pour the alkanet infusion into your hair, catching the liquid in a basin (of course wait until the water has cooled to a comfortable temperature.) Repour the infusion through the hair 10 times. Let your hair sit for 5 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

I'll let you know how it works for me - should take before and after pictures with my new camera! Let me know if you have tried this, if you do try this and if so, what results did you get? Obviously, the results will depend on the color of your hair now, but I think it would be interesting to see if it just adds highlights. Next to try is henna!

Recipe from The Herbal Home Spa, by Greta Breedlove.

Thanks for listening!



Natural Aromatherapy Toothpaste

By Aromatherapy Recipes Holistic Healthy Body
on August 12, 2011

Homemade Toothpaste - a better alternative?


How many of you actually use a "pea-sized amount" of toothpaste when you brush your teeth - and how many of you are sure your kids don't swallow any of that stuff? The warning is clearly there on that tube of toothpaste - look for yourself. And "in case of accidental ingestion, call the poison control center." I know, me either. I have always watched closely when my grandkids brush their teeth, but good grief how can you possibly get your teeth clean with a "pea sized" amount? Dr. Mercola has an interesting article on this and I've shared the link below.

Now I've always had sensitive teeth and gums - hated, hated, hated (did I say hated?) the every six-month trip to the dentist. I've never really paid a lot of attention to the toothpaste I used, probably usually the most inexpensive. I've also never really believed the advertising hype about whiter, brighter, etc. While working on something else the other day and had a bottle of glycerine sitting close by from a batch of cream made earlier in the day, I decided to make myself a new, better, really truly whiter, brighter, cleaner, chemical-free, fluoride-free toothpaste. You know what? It works great and my gums are no longer sensitive and they don't ache periodically through the day. Here's my simple recipe. I think you can get the ingredients in any drug store.

Baking Soda
Glycerine (vegetable)
Lemon (Citrus limonum) essential oil, organic
Hydrogen Peroxide (the low % that's readily available)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Essential Oil
Xylitol (powdered - easily found in health food stores)

You can make it in whatever size you'd like. I would suggest a small jar that you can close since the essential oils will evaporate more quickly otherwise. I simply put a small amount of baking soda in a small dish, added enough glycerine to make it into a thick paste, then added a little bit more hydrogen peroxide for a thinner paste, but thick enough to stick to your tooth brush. I then added about 1 to 2 drops of each essential oil. I added the xylitol just until sweet enough - not too sweet. It's very good for your teeth and kills oral bacteria that causes dental decay.

The lemon essential oil is a well known whitener, it tastes good and it really does work to brighten your teeth. The baking soda gently scrubs your teeth and actually makes them sparkle. The glycerine is a preservative, plus it makes the mixture sweet imparting a pleasant taste. The peppermint can be used or not, but I like to add it because it makes my mouth feel clean - and it is clean. The peppermint is also a powerful antibacterial that will help eliminate plaque. And, of course, the hydrogen peroxide is another antibacterial ingredient - you could also optionally add this one, depending on whether you have any sores or problems at this time.

Additionally, if you have any sores in your mouth, depending on what the root (pun intended) cause, you could switch the peppermint to cinnamon leaf (Cinnamonum verum) essential oil. Go lightly and test as you go with cinnamon as it is a skin irritant and must be diluted quite a bit - but it has amazing antiviral properties. Watch for a blog soon about herpes viruses (I know yuck, but someone has to talk about it, why not me!).

That's it - simple, cheap and seriously cleans, deodorizes and contributes to both teeth and gum health. Not worried about swallowing any of this stuff since it's good for me anyway. I admit I haven't tried this out on my grandkids yet, but I think they'll like it because it's naturally sweet from the glycerine content.

What about you - do you have sore, aching gums and teeth? Have you tried a toothpaste that you particularly like and why? Do you have your own handmade recipe? I'd love to hear what everyone else uses.

Thanks for listening!


Eco-friendly silver cleaning

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on May 05, 2011

How to clean your silver - naturally.

silver place settings in a cup 

This may be an age-related, baby-boomer issue and totally not related to aromatherapy OR skin care, but it is related to what we feel is one of our main purposes for being a business, and that is finding ways to help you be eco-friendly and healthy. 

After graduating from high school and entering college, the new life of setting up my own housekeeping items became really interesting and exciting. My mother and my sister began to give me pieces of silver on birthdays and Christmas, including silver-plated serving dishes as well as sterling silver place settings. They also have given me a complete set of beautiful place settings of the fine china I picked out many years ago though often forgotten.  I have a fairly good selection that I continue to box up and take with me every time I move. Truthfully, these items although very nice have been seldom used. Why? Because there was always the issue of cleaning them before a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner when you already have a load of things to do and little time to do them. I seriously in the past had never considered the environmental impact of the silver cleaner I might be using. I personally love the look of a table full of silver serving dishes and place settings for those special occasions. There is something so very satisfying about pulling out that often-forgotten silverware and china and making the table setting special for special occasions and special people - lots of specials! Again, this may be not even be an issue for generation X or Y. But for those of us who do have pieces of silver we've been holding onto for sentimental reasons, I say it's time to get them out of their dusty boxes and start using them. And to do that - we usually have to polish them.

formal place setting with silver and china 

Actually, the price of silver has been steadily increasing this year but has taken a  recent 4-day hit this week and is now declining in price. I say, all the more reason to hold onto your silver and take good care of it! I hold onto my silver for reasons not related to monetary value, but that is, of course, something that could be considered. Here is an article that gives you easy and eco-friendly ways to clean that silver.  I'm curious - do you still use silver-plated or sterling silver place settings? If so, when and how? Do you use them often or just for special occasions? Have you had sterling silver passed down to you from your family? Do you have an easy way to keep them clean?

check out this link at wingsets 

Thanks for listening!


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