Working With Stinky Ingredients - Part 1
Working with natural (plant-based) ingredients has its occasional challenges. Some of the (beneficial) ingredients I work with have an inherently heavy, sharp, pungent, musky, or otherwise less than appealing scent.
Ok, that was the diplomatic description.
Some of them are so stinky that there is instant nose-wrinkling and the instinctive pull-back when the seal is broken and the package is opened.
Yes, that stinky.
At the same time, they have all kinds of skin-loving goodness to offer, so they do deserve a chance.
Choices must be made.
The Stinky ConundrumSo, how shall we solve this stinkiness? Shall we mask the odor?
Perhaps just replace the ingredient?
There's also 'the industry maneuver' (my term) – using such a small amount of the ingredient that it won't be discernible to the nose. This is common practice in many commercially manufactured cosmetics and is known as a tip-in. Using an ingredient as a tip-in is great for marketing purposes, but the downside is – of course – having to live with the fact that the ingredient won't have any effect at all because there's such a minute amount in the product (0.05%) that it might as well not be there.
So, maybe we should give up and dump the stinky ingredient entirely?
Maybe we could figure out how to incorporate the smelly thing in such a manner that the end product works without insulting the nose.
Maybe we can even make the end product a delight to the nose?
Considering the Synthetic FactorIn truth, it's pretty easy to mask even the stinkiest of ingredients with synthetic scent. Think of detergent (and many other cleaning agents). Without the addition of perfume, most household cleaning agents are downright foul smelling.
Grabbing a bottle of fragrance would be the most obvious and easiest choice. But personally, I have a problem with this choice.
I am not a big fan of synthetic scents.
I do not like synthetic scents.
Ok that was the diplomatic description.
In truth, I find synthetic scents worse than the stinkiest ingredients I work with. I cannot bring myself to work with them – at all.
This might be due to a perfume allergy (I've never been tested, so I can't say for sure), but it could also just be because I have an incredibly snobbish nose.
In a few upcoming posts, we are going to examine how to deal with naturally stinky ingredients. We're not going to mask them. We're not going to cover them up either. We are going to embrace them and teach them how to smell pleasant.
Do TellWhich ingredients do you have a hard time incorporating into your products without nose-wrinkling? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Meantime, if you're not into stinky ingredients, make your own perfume using essential oils.
Some essential oil also smell horribly to me, for instance German chamomile, patchouli and palmarosa (only examples).
@Heather - I have experienced the same thing with argan oil. As for chamomile hydrosol - it is incredibly concentrated and you could try using it in smaller amounts. I usually mix it with others when using it in emulsions for the same reason you describe. If you mix with a neutral smelling hydrosol such as cornflower you might like the results. :)
Believe it or not, I'm not a big fan of the aroma of coconut oil. Mixing it helps, but sometimes leads to smelling like the beach. I love the beach, but never want to smell like I ran out of regular lotion and grabbed the SPF until I can get more.
@Heather Behan - Oh yes, the cham hydrosol is incredibly potent - you can easily dilute it in your formulations. Did you mean witch hazel hydrosol? Or witch hazel as the Americans know it ? (which has an alcohol content)
@Gwen - Love your description of the patchouli scent! (made me giggle). I actually know what you mean about coconut oil. It's lovely up to a point. I love cooking with it but am less crazy about the raw (scented) oil for skincare.
@Ashlynn Kap - This is new to me .. the Candelilla wax I have worked with seems quite neutral . at least I have never noticed any unpleasantness. I am now going to go have a sniff!
Thanks again Lisa.