Today's article is a guest post on the benefits on natural fragrance (and the dangers of most conventional cosmetics on the market) by master of clean, chemical-free cosmetics, previous podcast guest on the episode, “Deer Placenta Smoothies, Smearing Colostrum On Your Face, How To Use A Clay Mask & Much More.,” and good friend of mine, Andy Hnilo (pictured above, hacking fragrances in his Batman lab at his company Alitura).
Andy knows his way around cosmetics industry better than anyone I know, and has spent the better part of the past decade not only figuring out the best way to get rid of wrinkles, fix scars, restore a radiant glow to the skin and much more…
…but he's also cracked the code on creating what I consider to be the best-smelling, sexiest, most guilt-free natural fragrance on the face of the planet—far different than what I affectionately call the “cancer-sprays” you get a big whiff of when you walk through the beauty section of any department store.
I learned of Andy's knowledge firsthand a little over a year ago when he came knocking on my front door with his mind-blowing true story of how he healed himself after being hit and run over by two cars, ripping his face and body apart. The most critical tool that he used to heal his broke and bloodied face and skin was a hand-crafted blend of unique, specialized ingredients from around the world which he formulated himself, including freshwater pearl powder, grass-fed colostrum, ginseng, rhassoul clay, illite, green desert clay, kaolin clay, and organic kelp powder. This is the same clay mask you've probably seen me doing on Instagram many times, and the one I use every single week to keep my face looking young.
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I decided to mix my clay mask this morning with organic wine. After all, why not? I’ve heard people take baths in wine. FYI, the gold standard is Apple cider vinegar but I don’t mind me a little resveratrol every now and again. You can find a mask that I use at BenGreenfieldfitness.com/Alitura And you can use 20% discount code “Greenfield”. Go to BenGreenfieldfitness.com/wine for the clean booze.
But Andy's knowledge goes far beyond chunks of organic earth that one can smear on their face for eternal youth (in this case, the mask is made by his company Alitura). In particular, the dude knows how guys and girls can get themselves to smelling absolutely sexy and amazing, guilt-free. So I thought: who better to fill my audience in on some of the dangers lurking in your personal care products (and what you can do about it) than dear Andy.
Smell, Sex & Survival
Sex appeal is an important part of our daily lives. Whether in a relationship or not, feeling confident about yourself is directly tied to your sexuality and your perceived attractiveness to others. This then impacts your ability to perform in all aspects of your life, whether in the boardroom or on the field. Feeling confident stimulates creativity & decisiveness, enhances athletic and work performance, and affects the bottom line of nearly every activity in your life.
Confidence is essential to growth, both personally and professionally, as we must be willing to take risks and experience failure to forge ahead in our lives.
There are many ways to improve your self-confidence, from taking care of your appearance and taking more social risks, to mantras & visualization. But one of the less-discussed ways to heighten your sex appeal is through scent. Sexual attraction and smell are intimately connected, even when pheromones are not involved—this is why the perfume industry is as large as it is!
Fragrance directly affects our consciousness; we perceive the world through our five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Smell is arguably the most amatory of all the senses; it connects with your memory and emotion centers and triggers feelings to be associated with them. It has the power to captivate, excite, evoke memories, and even enhance sex appeal.
The history of fragrances goes back thousands of years and has been woven throughout many societies. In ancient Egypt, human pheromones were used for making perfumes. The Egyptians discovered that sweat contained aphrodisiac substances for human beings (especially from healthy and strong people) and was extracted from men who were specially selected for this job. Once collected, the sweat was stored in jars to be fused with different fragrances later.
Especially good news for men, a research study published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal showed that men are visual while women rate smell cues as most important in mate choice. Women seem to be more driven by scent while attraction for men was driven by what they saw. When asked whether they found perfume arousing during non-sexual activity, women were more likely to say yes than men. These perfumes will influence a woman to have a deeper sense of attachment to the person wearing the fragrance.
In other words, the way you smell is probably one of the most important things you can do when it comes to sending the subconscious signal you want to the opposite sex.
Each of us has a one-of-a-kind odor print, or personal signature smell. In close interactions we can, through scent, evaluate a potential partner. Thus personal smell influenced by pheromones plays a huge role in how people grow attracted to each other and increase one’s natural appeal. Your personal pheromone “odor signature” is a complex mixture of pheromones, body oils, fatty acids, sweat, and hormones (such as androsterone) secreted onto the skin from your apocrine glands. In addition, the 40 million skin cells that you shed each day add to your pheromone signature.
In the last few years, we have been hearing all about the increased toxicity of our world and the effect it is having on our health and wellbeing. Numerous studies are emerging about the thousands of potentially harmful chemicals that are circulating through our environment and daily lives. They are the pervasive and hard-to-pronounce words we see on the back of labels of our food and personal care products.
Of the many places these harmful, toxic chemicals can be found, they are most elusively found in perfumes, colognes, and fragrances. While most other products state their ingredients on the back label, fragrance ingredients are protected under the U.S. Fair Packaging and Label Act because they are considered “trade secrets.”
However, the problem with this is that most commercial fragrances contain dangerous and toxic ingredients, which covertly attribute to a wide variety of health disorders. Just a small spray of a high-end fragrance can potentially lead to acute or chronic symptoms like allergic reactions, headaches and in the long-term organ damage and degenerative diseases.
While most of us may have a general understanding that toxic chemicals are bad, not all of us know exactly what they are, why they’re dangerous, or how to avoid them. You're about to change that for yourself.
What Are Toxic Fragrances?
So, what is “fragrance” technically? Interestingly enough, as a commercial marketing term, fragrance can be legally used as a catchword or phrase with no clearly defined meaning. Worst of all, the term “fragrance” or “parfum” can be used on labels without disclosing any of the actual ingredients being used, without having passed any safety or health tests.
That means any given commercial “fragrance” might be comprised of hundreds of different unknown, unverified ingredients.
And guess what? Most of the time—75% of the time to be exact—commercial products that used the term “fragrance” contain legally hidden phthalates, parabens, and other known, toxic chemicals.
Tests done by the EPA have discovered that common fragrances contain an assortment of toxic chemical ingredients, including but not limited to: acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool, and methylene chloride.
According to InvisibleDisabilities.org, these chemicals can cause a variety of health imbalances, including:
- Central nervous disorders
- Kidney damage
- Respiratory failure
- GI tract irritation
- Skin rashes and irritation
- And more…
Of the many toxic chemicals found in conventional fragrances, perhaps the most dangerous of them all, are phthalates and parabens. Mechanically speaking, these chemicals are used to make plastics flexible, act as lubricants, and are routinely used as preservatives. However, they come with some dangerous health side effects that are worth knowing.
Let's now take a look at exactly what those dangerous effects are…
The Dangerous Effects of Phthalates
Phthalates are a class of chlorinated, environmental toxins that easily accumulate in the body due to their fat-soluble nature. While seemingly harmless on the shorthand, when exposed to these toxic plasticizers on a regular basis, some serious health problems are likely to arise.
Because phthalates are so commonly used in foods and personal care products such as perfumes, colognes, shampoos, etc., it is quite easy to be exposed to them daily.
Phthalates are known to be cytotoxic and cause endocrine disruption, lipid peroxidation, and oxidative stress while also having a negative effect on the expression of enzymes of xenobiotic metabolism and detoxification. Phthalates have biologically disruptive effects and can be associated with a number of serious health problems including infertility, testicular dysgenesis, asthma, allergies as well as leiomyomas and breast cancer.
Oh but wait—that’s not all. Phthalates are also linked to:
In other words, you do not want to be smearing these things into your skin and hair like so many people now do.
Parabens, Estrogen, and Disease
Then there are parabens. Parabens are chemical preservatives that are widely used in cosmetic products and processed food. Those two categories encompass many of the items in an average household, leaving us exposed to their effects often.
While they make for an effective preservative, recent evidence suggests that parabens exert potent estrogenic effects.
Much like estrogen, these parabens can influence the cells to become cancerous. They have a chemical structure that's similar to estrogen, which means they have the potential to mimic estrogens and disrupt the natural function of the endocrine system.
While all hormones serve a purpose in the body, there are certain hormones we want to keep under control, such as stress hormones. While many consider estrogens to be a “female reproductive hormone,” the fact of the matter is, estrogens are catabolic stress hormones that lead to aging, disease, and cancer when in excess.
Parabens disrupt estrogen metabolism by interfering with the estrogen-activating enzyme 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD1) and the estrogen-inactivating 17β-HSD2, giving them an estrogenic mimicking effect in the body. Additionally, it has been found that the main metabolite of parabens, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, is directly estrogenic.
In other words, parabens act like estrogen in the body, and this can lead to many diseases and biological imbalances. It has been known since the middle of the century that estrogens have many toxic effects, and there are continuously more being discovered.
It is well known that estrogens can be catabolic (meaning that they break down the body), they down-regulate thyroid function, can directly cause cells to become cancerous and can cause abnormal blood clotting, infertility, and contribute to accelerated aging.
The way estrogen leads to stress, aging, and disease is by stimulating the adrenals to secrete stress hormones by way of the hypothalamus and pituitary. This direct effect on the adrenal glands—and other indirect effects such as the increase of free fatty acids—evoke the stimulation of the excitotoxic glutamic acid pathway, and interferes with the protective quality of adenosine on the nerves.
Estrogen also has a direct and indirect way of increasing the production of nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. These chemicals are known to extremely interfere with mitochondrial respiration (cellular energy production), which leads to increased intracellular calcium (calcification of soft tissues) and free radical damage, which leads to aging and disease.
Furthermore, all of the negative effects of estrogen excess resemble the pathology of aging. Most aging is the result of poor mitochondrial respiration, which leads to cellular energy deficiencies, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The way estrogens mimic aging pathology is by stealing oxygen from the mitochondria, which inhibits proper cellular respiration leading to abnormal cell growth and the previously mentioned biological stressors.
It is clear to see the damaging, biochemical cascades of excess estrogens. They create physiological stress by inhibiting mitochondrial energy production and intercellular communication, which on the most cellular level leads to the biological conditions of old age and disease.
With this in mind, it becomes obvious that an “anti-estrogen” approach toward health is fundamental in the prevention of aging. Therefore, minimizing estrogen-mimicking substances is crucial.
Let's move on to a simple, yet complete strategy for mitigating the stressful effects of environmental toxins.
Tips For Surviving Environmental Toxins
You’re probably wondering at this point, “How the hell can I smell good and use personal care products and fragrances without damaging my health?”
As difficult or impossible it might seem to escape the ravages of our chemical-riddled world, it is possible.
Here are some simple tips on how to survive the toxic exposure of commercial chemicals while still smelling lovely:
- Don’t purchase products without first knowing what they are made up—if a product does not fully disclose its ingredients, it's best to avoid it, or reach out to the company to find out what they are actually using.
- When reading labels, look up any ingredients you are not familiar with. You can check EWG’s Skin Deep database as well as PubMed articles for potential harmful side effects.
- Seek products that are either certified organic or products from companies that use essential oils for fragrance.
- Use natural fragrances that are certified free from: stearates, parabens, and phthalates.
- Replace other fragrant products – fragrant colognes and perfumes are not the only products that contain toxic chemicals. There are many scented products including range air fresheners, laundry detergent, soaps, cosmetics, sunscreen, sanitary pads, scented candles and others that carry a toxic chemical load. Therefore, seek to replace these with organic, “green” options as well to minimize the total chemical load.
While this list is by no means extensive, it will at least protect you and your family from the major environmental toxins lurking in your personal care products. The EWG database mentioned above can certainly fill you in on plenty more.
The Opposite Of Toxic Fragrances: Essential Oils
It is widely believed that different essential oils on various parts of the body may enhance the way your body smells, not by stimulating the production of pheromones, but by amplifying pheromones you've already secreted.
Some plant oils even produce pheromones similar to human sex pheromones. For example:
Sandalwood makes for a great, non-toxic and aphrodisiac perfume. It’s postulated that the scent sandalwood gives off can positively increase sexual arousal, drive, and energy.
Ylang-Ylang essential oil possesses a sedative effect and a certain degree of physiological influence on humans. It is euphoric, stimulates the senses, and reduces sexual anxiety.
Cardamom, used in ancient Greece and Rome as a symbol of luxury, was often used in social ceremonies. It was also a common ingredient in perfumes and aphrodisiacs.
There are plenty of other examples. Medieval knights would often use lavender to smell royal and sweet, vanilla can uplift the mood and serve as a cognitive aid too, and even small amounts of peppermint can make you feel fresh and clean.
The New Natural Fragrance That Ben Greenfield & Andy Hnilo Both Use
“I'm sorry…but what is that fragrance you are wearing? You smell amazing!”
Ben Greenfield here again.
Almost every day now I get that question when I am wearing the natural fragrance that – after all the research you've just read about – Andy designed for both men and women. He sent me beta bottles nearly a year ago, and since that time, I have not once gone through the trouble of mixing together my own blends of essential oils, or hunting down the latest research on the EWG website on fragrances.
This stuff just works, smells amazing and (sometimes to the chagrin of my wife), seems to attract the opposite sex like bees to honey.
“Presence,” I reply.
So what is Presence, exactly?
As I described earlier, I hosted Alitura's Founder Andy Hnilo on my podcast last fall and he explained how he created a special clay mask blend to quickly heal his scarring and abrasions after being hit and run over by two cars, ripping his face and body apart.
Here are Andy's before and after photos:
“Alitura” is Latin for “feeding and nourishing”. Andy focuses on creating products with an emphasis on treating the skin like another mouth, thus feeding and nourishing the entire body through the skin.
His revision process during the multi-year long process of formulating Alitura Presence was without question the most difficult of any product he created.
Each revision had four new options and he had to go through 27 revisions just to get the formula down. Next, he had to see which organic alcohol base (cane sugar, grain, corn or grape) worked best with the formula, which was extremely difficult.
Although each is just a version of alcohol, each had a unique aroma which gave a different essence to the existing formula. Finding the perfect balance of oil, alcohol & water down to the decimal is a grueling, yet rewarding process. A difference of just .1% was palpable, so he had to be extremely discerning and meticulous throughout. He signed off on the production twice only to recant because the spine-tingling “it” factor was ever so slightly missing.
You would think the difficult part was over, but then came the custom bottle and packaging, which took another 14 months. In Andy's words…
…“My vision for Presence was a captivating unisex fragrance that mixes sensuality with familiarity, while adding a sexy twist with the addition of aphrodisiacs like smoky Sandalwood, Cardamom, and the addictive Ylang-Ylang. Getting a result that is better than you initially envisioned is an indescribably good feeling.”
Because of this hardcore research, the new Presence fragrance is by far and large the most highly anticipated item Andy has ever released. It is a smolderingly sexy and sensual natural fragrance for him and her. After two years in the making and dozens of painstaking revisions, he has finally created a scent of luxury with massive arousing appeal while still using clean, natural and organic ingredients.
If I could describe this stuff in one sentence, it is…
…sex appeal in a bottle.
The scent opens with the freshness of Cucumber and Aloe with a delightful Ylang Ylang (flower). The heart is a plethora of Hydrated Cedar and Green Forest, giving it a robust fusion of coolness. The dry-down has warm smolders of smooth Sandalwood and aromatic Cardamom with soft breezes of Tobacco from a fine leather satchel.
Chalkboard Magazine describes it as “Sweet and musky sandalwood grabs you by the nostrils and won’t let you forget the first time you got a whiff of this sexy and perfectly balanced spritz. If you’re familiar with Le Labo’s Santal 33, this natural perfume has a few very similar notes.”
Even the bottle is sexy.
No plastics here. Presence is bottled in Miron glass to block harmful x-rays and maintain absolute product potency. This only allows Infrared and Violet lights through, which enhance the effects of the product. So there are zero toxic preservatives in the formulation or the bottle.
We all have a natural attraction to scent, it is outright hardwired into our genetics. Our craving for natural aroma serves as a survival mechanism. Scents are a way for us to find delicious and healthy food and even select our mates in life.
But is nearly impossible to find a scent that is clean and has universal appeal to both men and women. Until now. A little goes a long way in the powerful blend of botanicals in Presence and you can feel good knowing that this is not another harmful designer fragrance, but a scent that you just may not be able to stop thinking about.
Whether it's an unplanned opener in a social situation, a feeling of euphoria as you spray it on before you leave your house to crush your day, let your own “Presence” and sex appeal shine through with this addicting blend of botanicals and organic ingredients.
I can't recommend this stuff highly enough.
You can grab a bottle of the brand new Presence here now and use 20% discount code: BG20 to save bigtime. But a warning: this stuff is flying off the shelves, and now that I've released this article, it will likely disappear fast, so get it while it's still available. Alitura also offers a full refund of any purchase from their website if returned within 30 days of receiving order, so you can try Presence risk-free and if you don't like it, just send it back (but I guarantee that won't happen—this stuff is addictively good!).
Enjoy, and leave a comment below letting me know what you think once you try it!