My thoughts on essential oils and allergiesMette Skjærbæk
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.
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.[collection2]
To me, the choice is simple
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.[collection3]
All the best,