Natural and synthetic fragrances – What is the difference?

Lavender field in full bloom underneath a pretty pink sky

Fragranced products can be a cause for concern for lots of individuals that may be allergic or be sensitive to strong or potent scents. You may be wondering why there is the option of both synthetic and natural fragrances. Is one better than the other? Can they be blended? Don’t worry, we have the answers!

What are natural fragrances?

A natural fragrance is a scent that has been created naturally directly from nature, usually through plants, animals, trees and more. Officially, natural fragrances should contain pure ingredients that are already apparent in raw materials that have been separated using distillation and extraction. This means nothing can be chemically altered, so the scents have to be natural aromatic, raw materials like essential oils. Wood, roots, seeds, flowers, stems, and leaves can all be used for extraction of scent.

What are synthetic fragrances?

Unlike natural scents, synthetic fragrances are developed and created in laboratories. Rather than sourcing scents directly from plants and animals, synthetic fragrances can replicate natural scents without having to damage any wildlife.

Synthetic fragrances can be used in three different ways:

  • Full Synthetic: Predominantly the whole fragrance is made from petroleum by-products
  • Semi-Synthetic: This is a fragrance that is created from some synthetic fragrance, some artificially modified fragrance and some natural fragrances. This can be a combination of all three or only two.
  • Natural Isolates: This is a fragranced that is developed from both natural and synthetic by-products.

Advantages and disadvantages of natural fragrances

Advantages:

  • Using natural fragrances in essential oils can promote physical and emotional healing.
  • Can be layered to achieve a unique and personal scent.
  • Great for those with asthma or chemical sensitivities.

Disadvantages:

  • Has shelf life of around 1-2 years.
  • Takes a toll on the environment because they have to harvest trees and plants which then leads to deforestation.
  • Natural fragrances can become unavailable due to heatwaves, pesticides, and other natural causes.
  • Limited to only a handful of scents.
  • Highly allergenic and can be difficult to standardise.

Advantages and disadvantages of synthetic fragrances

Advantages:

  • Synthetic fragrances are not susceptible to natural issues which could make fragrances unavailable.
  • Does not physically harm the environment.
  • They can last up to five years.
  • Synthetic fragrances provide richer and deeper long-lasting scents.
  • A wide range of scents can be synthetically made.

Disadvantages:

  • Synthetic smells that are created through petrol chemicals can cause headaches, lung and throat irritation and nausea.

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