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Identifying Synthetic vs. Natural Fragrances

Beta Analytic’s marketing specialist Haley Gershon offers insight into identifying adulterated or synthetic materials to professionals in the fragrance industry. Adulteration of aroma materials, including essential oils and botanical ingredients, is increasingly becoming a concern in the fragrance industry as it is cheaper to use synthetic materials instead of natural ingredients. This leads to the use of fraudulent ingredients and dishonest labelling. Natural product testing using Carbon-14 is an effective option that has been used for more than a decade to identify petrochemical-derived materials and authenticate naturally sourced materials in fragrance ingredients and products.

fragrance oils

Although many products can claim to be made of 100% naturally sourced ingredients, there is not always sufficient evidence to support these claims. Synthetic ingredients are a cheaper option as the fragrance industry grows. As these ingredients are not always easily discernible from their natural counterparts, their usage can go undetected in ingredients and final products, leading to mislabelling and the sale of synthetic materials to customers who are expecting truly natural products.

The ability to verify and authenticate the essential oils and botanical ingredients in fragrances can provide suppliers and manufacturers the upper hand in ensuring their label claims are accurate and their products meet the expectations of their customers. Natural product testing using Carbon-14 can detect biobased, or naturally sourced, content of ingredients and products as well as reveal the presence of synthetic or petrochemical-derived materials.

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Natural vs Synthetic Testing

The biobased content is measured using the ASTM D6866 or ISO 16620-2 standardized methods by measuring Carbon-14 using an Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS). An ingredient containing completely biobased (or natural) content will result in a percentage of 100% while completely petrochemical-derived (or synthetic) ingredients will have 0% biobased content because they contain no Carbon-14. A blend of ingredients and compounds from both naturally sourced and synthetic sources will result in a percentage in between. Higher percentages indicate a greater concentration of naturally sourced materials in the sample.

As the demand for natural fragrances grows, options for authentication of ingredients becomes more valuable for professionals in the fragrance industry. Natural product testing using Carbon-14 allows suppliers and manufacturers to substantiate their natural claims, identify adulteration in botanical ingredients, confirm label accuracy, and aid in quality control measures from formulation to final product.

Gershon, H. “Are Your Fragrances Truly Natural?” Nutraceuticals Now July 2019

This entry was posted on Friday, August 2nd, 2019 and is filed under Essential Oil Testing, Flavor & Fragrance, Natural Product Testing .