We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

15 October 2007

Limonene & Linalool, What the 'L' is it??

Ahead of this weeks installment of How Toxic Are You? I looked into a couple of ingredients mentioned last week, which I was surprised to find in just about every cosmetic I own.

Limonene. It is a naturally derived product from the Rutaceae family of citrus plants, but according to Wikipedia, Limonene works as paint stripper when applied to painted wood!! It provides a lemony smell in cosmetics, in my particular brands it is listed as 'from essential oils'.

When I found info about Limonene on Osha(us dept. of labour) it said: Potential symptoms: Irritation of eyes, nose, throat, skin; allergic contact dermatitis. Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Nose, Throat, Skin---Mild (HE16); Skin sensitization--- Dermatitis (HE3).

And also: 3) Although chronic oral administration of d-limonene to rats caused kidney damage and kidney tumors in the males, this effect is thought to have no human relevance (IARC Group 3)... so what was the point of the animal testing?? Now I'm having to assume that Limonene as used in my products, which are against animal testing, and claim to be earth friendly and baby friendly, must be using some form of this which is truly harmless and natural??

The second one is Linalool. From wikipedia: Linalool is a naturally-occurring terpene alcohol chemical found in many flowers and spice plants with many commercial applications, the majority of which are based on its pleasant scent. That makes some sense to me as I noted that Limonene is also a terpene. I suppose this is where some good knowledge of chemistry would be useful. My educated guess would be that there are many ways of combining these natural substances to create different effects. I think the toxicity comes from synthetic versions. So perhaps these two have passed the test. I still would have to say that less is more, and I love the products (again, like Pure Nuff Stuff or Neals Yard) which sometimes have only five easily understood natural ingredients! And perform well.


Anonymous said...


if 100% pure, a molecule produced synthetically is exactly the same s on produced naturally.
Many material used in fragrances are synthesized versions of material found in nature. In many cases, they are actually safer than those from natural sources!

A more important issue with safety relates to dosage and concentration. Don't forget that you can die from drinking too much water, and I don't mean drowning.


Mary said...

GPS, Thanks for your comment. I certainly understand that many things in nature are harmful, such as certain herbs and mushrooms for instance, so that does make sense to me. And yes I know that too much water is also bad for us! I do find the middle way to be the most helpful..everything in moderation as its said.. Cheers.