Ethereal oils, essential oils, pure fragrances, natural perfumes, natural scents, the foundation of aromatherapy. There are many names for the scents extracted from flowers, leaves, stems, roots, bark, grass, spices, moss and berries.

For years people have been asking me the same questions: What are essential oils supposed to be good for? What about perfume intolerances? What are allergens? At a recent live session on Instagram, I was asked variations of these questions once again and that is what prompted me to write this article about allergies in general and perfume intolerance specifically. Here are my personal views on these subjects.

 

Tools for emotional well-being

Aromatherapy is an essential part of the Karmameju DNA. We work with aromatherapy because these pure scents have a unique holistic effect that affects our mental well-being and improves the condition of the skin. Like a toolbox filled with different tools on hand for different needs. I use aromatherapy as an emotional toolbox with different fragrances for different emotions I want to intensify or reduce. So, if I want to feel feminine and positive, I use products like HOPE body oil. When I am ready to wind things down and relax, I might use MILD body oil, and when I could use something to lift me up and give me some focused energy, I reach for WILD body oil.

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The magic of nature

Fragrance is part of the magic of nature. Some of my favourites are: The smell of freshly baked buns, the sharp scent of wild garlic, the fragrances of different flowers, the smell of my children. Wherever I am, I always notice smells. Our sense of smell is one of our strongest senses and is directly associated with the limbic system in our brains that is associated with our emotions.

Scents are an important source of pleasure in my daily life. That might not come as a surprise as I am the founder of a range of aromatherapeutic skincare products. Karmameju Skincare is aromatherapeutic for two reasons: For the effect that the precious essential oils have on the skin, and the effect they have on the mind and the stimulation of the senses. 

It would be hard for me to accept a life without fragrances. Just as I eat nuts, knowing that nut allergies can be life-threatening, I choose to live a life of joy and choose not to live in fear. I made a conscious choice to do so long ago.  

It is possible to develop allergies to many different common elements in our daily lives, including:

Foods / Pollen / House dust / Animal dander / Bee stings / Rubber / Latex / Perfumes / Penicillin / Metals (especially nickel) / Dyes / Preservatives / Water*

*Water allergy is not an actual allergy, but more of a skin barrier disfunction whose symptoms resemble those from allergic reactions.

As an individual, and in the role of mother, I consciously choose to live with the faith that our bodies are strong and will let us know if there is something they do not like / cannot tolerate. I am pretty relaxed about potential sources of allergies. Most people are afraid of something. What to be afraid of in life is a personal choice.

People can be allergic to all kinds of food: Peanuts, nuts, shellfish, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, and the list goes on. Some people have a lactose or gluten intolerance. Recently a young woman told me that she is allergic to smoked foods, an allergy I had never heard of before.

In our family, we do not avoid these foods in our diet in order to prevent the potential risk of developing an allergy.

We have had furry pets, even though allergies to animal dander are common.

We run barefoot in the grass and roll around in the clover, even though we know that we could get stung by a bee. We don’t know if that would be life-threatening because we have never been stung.

When I have to use strong cleaning agents, I put on rubber gloves, even though my skin does not react well to contact with the rubber.

My children have been allowed to wear jeans with buttons, rivets and zippers that are made of a mixed metal that contains nickel. I’m aware that this could potentially develop into a nickel allergy.

You probably get the point by now. In our home, we like to use natural fragrances in our daily lives, for self-care and to stimulate or calm our senses. This is true for the children and the adults in our family. 

We should all do what we think is right. In Denmark, scents have been subjected to rough handling because there has been a lot of focus on perfume intolerances. In France and England, aromatherapy is a natural part of daily life and essential oils are available for purchase at pharmacies. 

At Karmameju Skincare, the fragrances we use are one hundred percent natural. If a product smells like lemon, it’s because it comes from the same lemon rind oil that is an ingredient in lemon merengue pies. The scent of mint comes from the same mint leaves that we add to our smoothies. Benzyl alcohol is a potential allergen that I eat with pleasure, where it occurs naturally, in the form of strawberries. And the stimulating essential oil from black pepper comes from the same peppercorn that we use on a daily basis when cooking food.

So, the potential allergens (read more about potential allergens below) that are found in common household and personal care products are the same ones we use in our kitchens and everyday lives. 

I do understand that intolerances are a very limiting inconvenience for those who have them. That’s why it’s so important that people take a personal stand. In Denmark, about four percent of the population have a perfume intolerance of some sort.

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To me, the choice is simple  

You can read about our pure, natural fragrances HERE.

I also take precautions. I use unscented laundry detergent. I wash new clothes and bedding before using them in order to remove any chemicals that the fabrics have been treated with and which can be bad for the protective outer layer of the skin. I make sure that we eat relatively healthy, so our immune systems are resilient, and that we eat as little processed food as possible, because they usually contain a long list of ingredients that are not produced naturally. 

Karmameju’s deodorant SOFT is produced without any of the 26 fragrance allergens that are required to be labelled. It is believed that a lot of perfume intolerances develop in the underarm area. Products are applied in our arm pits where the pores are very open. This part of the body is especially sensitive after shaving. 

I hope that this gives you an idea of why I am not concerned about perfume intolerances in my daily life with my family. For us, fragrances are elements that enrich our lives, stimulate our senses and even improve our skin. The pleasure I experience from taking in pure fragrances is greater than any concerns about being among the few who develop perfume intolerances. The same goes for food and other substances that can produce intolerances.

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Jeg håber, at dette giver et indblik i, hvorfor jeg ikke frygter duftallergi i hverdagen i min familie. Jeg synes, at det er en så berigende, sansestimulerende, hudforbedrende og dejlig ting at have i livet. Min glæde er større end min bekymring for at være blandt de få, som udvikler allergi overfor dufte, men ligeledes med hensyn til mad og alt det andet, der kan give os allergi.

All the best,

Mette                  

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To those who would like to know more

People can be intolerant of natural fragrances, synthetically produced scents, or both.

When it has to do with allergies, it is all about the potential allergens that are found in smells. 

At present, there are 26 fragrance allergens that are required to be labelled. The potential allergen, Limonene which come from lemon rind, or a synthetic copy of lemon scent that contain similar potential allergens. When I say similar, it is because it is my belief that the body will always register a natural essence differently from something synthetically produced.

Unfortunately, the natural and synthetic potential allergens are called by the same name on the list of ingredients, whether they are synthetic or naturally produced. I find it annoying that the consumer does not have the opportunity to choose on the basis of what is listed on the label. Of course, it is possible to contact the company that produces the product and ask whether the fragrance is natural or synthetic. 

Some people cannot tolerate any fragrances whatsoever. Other people are intolerant of a single allergen from a fragrance, such as Limonene, Farnesol or Geraniol. Many people who are perfume intolerant in general are unaffected by Karmameju Skincare products. These people express happiness at being able to use scented products, something humans have been doing for generations in one way or another.

What is a potential allergen ?

A potential allergen is something that can produce an allergic reaction but does not necessarily do so. Peanuts are a common potential allergen. According to an article from the popular science media Videnskab.dk there is still a lot we do not know about allergies. 

In February, results of a major study came out. Infants ages four to eleven months of age with hereditary predisposition for allergies wither avoided peanuts completely or were fed six grams of peanuts per week until they were five years old. The results were very convincing. Children who received peanuts developed peanut allergies a lot less often.

https://videnskab.dk/krop-sundhed/forebyggelse-af-peanutallergi-naar-for-lidt-er-skidt-og-for-sent

This is just one example. I do not pretend to know anything about the main reasons that people develop allergies. It is my conscious choice not to live in fear, but to live a life of happiness. 

Take Limonene, which is a component that comes from the rind of citrus fruits and is produced naturally by nature. 

It is possible to produce a synthetic Limonene. It has a scent similar to citrus, but it is put together with chemical molecules and has nothing to do with a real lemon. These two very different substances are both called Limonene and are not distinguished on the list of ingredients on the label. Both forms are potential allergens.

Allergic preservatives

The number of Danes who are allergic to preservatives is believed to be higher than the number who are allergic to perfumes, but that fact does not get as much attention in the press. At Karmameju Skincare, more and more consumers are turning to us for help with delicate, sensitive, reactive skin and there has been a great increase in just the last five years. Preservatives are found in an array of everyday objects, ranging from toilet paper to furniture, to computers and telephones. The list is never-ending. 

Preservatives are also used in skincare as well as many food items with a long shelf life, in the same way as products that contain water, otherwise the product will have microbial growth very quickly. 

The choice of preservative as well as the amount of it are very important. In the same way that I would like to have more strawberries than preservatives in my jam, I would also like there to me a lot more natural ingredients than preservatives in my skincare products. 

I recently looked at the label of a skincare product. The first ingredient was a preservative. Ingredients are listed in order of predominance. For the producer of the product, it means that it has been cheap to make and can be produced in large volumes because it has a shelf life of many years. That is not something I want to apply to my skin. I would like to have more organic Aloe Vera in my product and the preservative should be at the bottom of the list of ingredients. 

The reason that I am bringing up the subject of allergies to preservatives in this context is that there is a lot of focus on perfume intolerance, and very little attention is given to other substances that bring about allergic reactions. This makes the consumer insecure about using stimulating fragrances. I think that is a real shame.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an essential element of Karmameju Skincare. It is one of our most important reasons for being – a desire to create a range of skincare products with one hundred percent natural fragrances that stimulate your senses. That is why this blog features several articles about aromatherapy. You can also read more about aromatherapy and why it is the foundation of our company HERE.