Farnesol - From Perfume to Medicine
Farnesol (INCI: Farnesol) is an organic compound (a natural sesquiterpene alcohol) that is present in numerous essential oils.
For example, you'll find it in as a component of citronella, lemongrass, tuberose, rose (and more). It's a versatile, controversial and complex ingredient.
A Variety of Capabilities and UsesFarnesol has a long and varied history of use, starting in perfumery. Over time, it has made its way into a several different areas and today, you will find farnesol functioning
- as a flavor enhancer for foods
- as an additive to cigarettes (!)
- as a bactericide in hygienic products
- as a deodorizing agent
Born in ItalyFarnesol is named after the Farnese Acacia flower (one of the first flowers used to extract farnesol). The flower got its name from the Italian Farnese family, known for creating one of the worlds first botanical gardens in the 15th century. The 'ol' at the end of the farnesol name tells you that it is an alcohol.
One of the 26In perfumery, farnesol is used to anchor and enhance the components of a perfume. Because it is a key ingredient in perfumes (and therefore a possible allergen), it is one of the 26 specific fragrance ingredients that have to be declared according to the EU cosmetic directive.
Where You Might Find it Tomorrow
Some of the most recent focus on farnesol has been for its possible medical capabilities. Lab testing has shown that it exhibits an ability to reduce tumor growth and that it could also be a possible aid to battling lung cancer (a bit ironic, as it is an additive to cigarettes!)
No Sweat - or Rather, No SmellMy main interest in farnesol has been for its deodorizing properties. Although it is not an antiperspirant, it does effectively kill the bacteria that makes sweat smell unpleasant.
My supplier recommends a dose (for deodorant use) 'from 0,3% to 1%'. I use the minimum amount, combining with other ingredients such as 'natural deodorant crystals' (potassium alum), lemon ester, and/or essential oils with deodorizing capabilities to create as gentle and effective a 'cocktail of actives' as possible.
I started developing deodorants years ago when both my husband and I had gotten well and truly fed up with not being able to find any commercially made deodorant products that fulfilled our requirements:
The Deodorant Quest
1. musn't sting – even if applied directly after shaving
2. musn't smell like 'a chemical factory' (my husband is particularly sensitive in this area, but neither of us like synthetic perfume)
3. musn't feel like a layer of sticky goo
4. must de-odorize for longer than an hour or 2. (Picky creatures that we are, we both demand all-day protection).
LisaLise Products With FarnesolThe Body Fresh Deodorant Series has seen many batches before being fully developed. Happily, these formulas continue to function well, even after years of uninterrupted use. The series is among my more popular products.
More Fun Things That Farnesol Can Do- Act as a pesticide for mites
- Act as a cell-regenerative anti-wrinkle agent
- Be a component of vitamin K
Not Fun Things That Farnesol May Do- Be a possible irritant for the perfume allergic
- This posting at Apoptosis Research states farnesol is worth studying as a possible tumor-reducing and therapeutic agent.