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Don't be fooled: seductively scented cosmetics with essential oils damage your skin

Posted by Lara Schimweg on
Lass dich nicht vernebeln: verführerisch duftende Kosmetik mit Ätherischen Ölen schadet deiner Haut
Natural Fragrances: Essential oils are irritating to the skin
Fragrances in cosmetic products have one primary goal: to sell more. We like floral scents and are therefore all too easily seduced by fragrant creams and shower gels. Neutral-smelling products, on the other hand, appear boring.
Unfortunately, fragrances are irritating to the skin. But what about natural fragrances?
Natural cosmetics , but also conventional products often contain essential oils - the natural fragrances. Unfortunately, however, they can cause allergies, irritate the skin and make it sensitive. Especially if you have sensitive skin, you should therefore completely avoid essential oils in cosmetics.
Essential oils are not necessary for the skin. They have no positive effect on your skin.
Essential oils are mostly used in cosmetic products as a substitute for synthetic fragrances or as a preservative.
Erroneously, essential oils are sometimes attributed a certain effect. Apart from the mentioned disinfecting property and the scent, however, there is no other positive effect.
Essential oils are extracted from plants. That actually sounds good.
Plants need to protect themselves from other living beings. For example, fly agaric and foxglove have their own poison. Other plants use essential oils to protect themselves from enemies. Fortunately, essential oils do not kill us humans. Nevertheless, they can damage our skin in different ways.
Essential oils are often confused with the powerful plant extracts. These can really protect your skin. They have an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or calming effect.
(An article on the difference between essential oils and plant extracts is forthcoming.)
Sometimes you hear that if plants protect themselves in this way, it would also protect our skin. A nice analogy, but we humans are not plants. Therefore, essential oils have a rather irritating effect on us. They are unstable and decompose on contact with sunlight and air. Together with air and sunlight, essential oils trigger stress in your skin. More precisely: oxidative stress. Free radicals are formed. And our skin doesn't like that at all.
On the contrary: we protect ourselves against free radicals in everyday life with healthy, vitamin-rich foods and exercise. Blueberries, for example, are really tasty and protect you from oxidative stress. Or how about a little work-out in the morning.
Do you love the beautiful scent? How about spraying the natural scent into your hair rather than hair perfume? It can't harm your skin. Essential oils in spray or vapor form are also used for relaxation in aromatherapy. Please note, however, that essential oils can irritate the lungs. If you have a general allergic reaction with shortness of breath, yoga or other mindfulness exercises are more suitable for you to relax.

And how do you recognize whether essential oils or other fragrances are contained in a product?

We have created an alphabetical list for you with the most common names for fragrances. The fragrances and essential oils appear under these names in the list of ingredients that you can find on every cosmetic product under Ingredients or INCI. So you know which ingredients you can avoid for the sake of your skin the next time you go shopping.

Essential oils and other fragrances

  • Amyl Cinnamal
  • Amyl Cinnamyl Alcohol
  • Anise Alcohol
  • Balm of Peru (myroxylon pereirae)
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • benzyl benzoates
  • Benzyl Cinnamate
  • benzyl salicylates
  • butylphenyl methylpropaniol
  • Cassia oil
  • cloves
  • Cinamyl Alcohol
  • cinnamic aldehydes
  • cinnamon
  • citral
  • citrus
  • citronellol
  • citronella
  • cinnamal
  • coumarin
  • Ethylene bassylate
  • eugenol
  • Evernia Prunastri Extract
  • Evernia Furfuracea Extract
  • farnesol
  • geraniol
  • Heyy Cinnamal
  • Hydroxycitronellal
  • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexane carboxaldehyde
  • isoeugenol
  • lavender
  • Lemon peel
  • linalool
  • limonene
  • methyl 2-octynoates
  • Oak moss absolute
  • Oil of bergamot
  • Perfume
  • Phenethyl Alcohol
  • sweet basil
  • sweet orange
And watch out for the flower waters. These also often contain essential oils that occur naturally in the hydrosol. They are therefore not indicated in the list of ingredients on the product. If you want to be on the safe side for your skin when it comes to love, it is better not to use rose water or similar tonics that smell like flowers .

Summarized for you

  • All types of fragrances can be irritating to the skin
  • Essential oils are natural fragrances
  • Fragrances can trigger contact allergies
  • If asthmatics or allergy sufferers inhale fragrances, this can lead to breathing difficulties
  • Essential oils are the natural protection of plants from other living beings
  • Essential oils trigger stress in your skin
Do you avoid fragrances or can't you do without the pleasant scent? Write us in the comments.
Lara Schimweg

about the author

Lara Schimweg is the founder of Xeno . She studied sports science and health research and is a trained health worker. Lara has rosacea and very sensitive skin.

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