Benzyl alcohol

An aromatic alcohol, benzyl alcohol can be derived from many plants including jasmine, tuberose, wallflower and ylang-ylang.  As well as occurring naturally, though, benzyl alcohol may also be chemically produced from petrochemical sources.  It’s generally used as a fixative or stabiliser in many perfumes – helping to make sure that a favourite scent smells consistent, and keeping it ‘true’ for many years in the bottle.  It can be a skin sensitiser for some people, and is therefore listed on fragrance packaging so that it can be avoided by those who have a problem.  (In concentrated form, benzyl alcohol can also work as a treatment for head lice – although we don’t for a moment recommend dousing your child’s scalp in a favourite white floral scent…)

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