5 reasons for choosing natural scents

Posted by Sabine van der Plas on

At Marzou we choose natural and pure ingredients to create plant-powered products you’ll love for your nose, body, mind and home. In this article we’ll dive deeper into our 5 reasons for working with botanical fragrances.

A quick introduction: natural and synthetic fragrances

When talking about natural scents, we’re talking about the aromatic molecules of natural origin, created by plants. They evaporate quickly, therefore being referred to as volatile oils or essential oils. These volatile organic compounds are extracted from different plants (from ginger to pine), different plant parts (from flower to root) and using different methods (from steam distillation to peel expression).

Synthetic fragrances are designed by people in a lab, using non-natural (and natural) molecules. They can sometimes come quite close to mimicking natural materials, or are used to create a new aroma such as apple pie or sea salt.

5 reason to love natural fragrance

1. Depth and complexity of scent

Simply press an orange peel or hold a rose to smell the aromatic volatile molecules created by plants to attract, to warn, to defend, to communicate. They’re part of the language of the natural world, which we’re only beginning to understand. The essential oil of a single tree can consist of hundreds of different aromatic molecules, in a structure that only nature can put together. Essential oils are plant materials in their most concentrated but least material form, making them both physical and mysterious. Natural essences are captivating for their complexities, subtleties, dynamic nature and as perfumers call it: élan vital, the life force. Smelling an exquisite natural fragrance can evoke wonder, consciousness, imagination and joy.

2. Therapeutic benefits of natural essence

Aromatherapy, with fragrances of natural origin, has been used throughout history to engage our sense of smell and for its physiological effects on the human body. The olfactory membrane (containing the nerve endings that give us our sense of smell) is the only place in the human body where the nervous system comes into direct contact with the environment. Smell is first processed in the limbic lobe, one of the oldest parts of the brain, and its functions include emotion, memory, learning and motivation. A few examples are the focus-enhancing effect of rosemary, the relaxing properties of lavender and roman chamomile and the uplifting feeling of citrus oils. Some oils connected to rituals and spiritual practices, and some are diffused for their antibacterial properties.

3. No pollution or harmful chemicals

There are over 3000 chemicals (both synthetic and natural) that fall under the umbrella term ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on the ingredient label of personal care products, which means you don’t know which ones you’re getting and whether they’re potentially harmful. We believe the way forward is to move towards natural essences for our own health and because we don’t want harmful chemicals that are not biodegradable to end up in our waters or other ecosystems.

4. Re-tuning our sense of smell

In Essence & Alchemy Mandy Aftel views smell as the most neglected of our senses. ‘Most of us take our sense of smell for granted, leaving it to its own devices in a monotonous and oversaturated olfactory environment. We never think about its cultivation and enrichment, even though some of life’s most exquisite pleasures consequently elude us [...] and we are often unable to recognise even the most familiar odours when they are separated from their source.’

Tuning out of overwhelming synthetic fragrances and tuning into natural essences, we can begin to recuperate the sensitivity of our sense of smell.

5. Connecting to nature

We spend less and less time outdoors, in nature, and new research shows this is affecting our wellbeing: from our immunity to our mental state. Even though natural scents obviously cannot replace a long walk in the forest, it can help in feeling (re)connected to nature when there is simply no opportunity to go outside. Moreover, a lot of natural scents you can diffuse in your own home, such as pine and sage, contain phytoncides: a type of volatile organic compounds (essential oils) that are present in forest air that a lot of positive physiological effects are attributed to.


Are all synthetics bad?

Of course, synthetic fragrances definitely serve a purpose too and luckily there are brands out there that only use safe synthetics. Their benefits are, for example:

Creativity - They can mimic scents that have no natural oil, such as mango, cucumber, linen and violet

Resources - They (mostly) require less resources from our planet and can be an alternative for over-harvested wild plant species and animal fragrances

Price - They're less costly to produce, meaning products that contain them are cheaper too

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