Sunday, June 11, 2006

All Natural Perfume (Aromatherapy)

One of the reasons I switched to all natural products a few years ago was because of my sensitivity to synthetic scents and chemicals. I used to love all kinds of scents--from air freshener to conventional perfume to 'fruity and herbal' lotions, but that soon changed. In 2001 I began working at perfume counter, and after being around all those scents all day for a few months, my skin became increasingly sensitive. I began to get rashes from products I had been using for years, and my facial skin would get these tiny red itchy puffy bumps that would only go away if I used aloe. It was about that time that I began researching what goes into cosmetics, and then switching to all natural products. In my research I learned that conventional perfumes contain hundred of synthetic chemicals and only a small percentage of real essential oil (often less than 3%). I think my exposure to all those chemicals for a few months (before I quit) made my sensitive skin even more reactive, but I'm kind of glad that happened because I've learned so much about skin care and natural cosmetics, and I'm never going back!
Through my experiences of aromatherapy I've come to appreciate the scent of REAL flowers and herbs. Now that I've smelled real jasmine and rose, I can not stand the smell of their fake, chemically counterparts. I used to love things like Bath and Body lotions, and now I can't stand the smell of anything synthetic!

There are many natural companies that make some really nice scents. Some scents, like 'apples', 'grapes' etc obviously are only available as synthetics, and others, such as a true gardenia scent is hard to find and rarely available (gardenia essential oil is hard to find and also pricey, but infused gardenia oil is easy to make). However, for hard to find scents, sometimes several essential oils can be combined to create scents like 'lily of the valley'. It should be noted that perfumes made with essential oils do not last as long as their synthetic counterparts (so you won't smell like your perfume for days) and throughout the hours the scent will develop as lighter essential oils disappear (top notes, and then middle) and the heavier notes (middle and base notes) are left behind. They are usually available in an alchohol and water base or a carrier oil base.

Aubrey Organics just revamped their line of fragrances. They now offer six all natural and organic perfumes, made with essential oils.

You can also buy a lot of lovely blends from aromatherapy companies like Nature's Gift and Mountain Rose Herbs. MRH sells things like spiritual blends and NG sells a couple blends and perfumer's kits (essential oils in jojoba oil). Both have excellent prices.

True Aroma makes several nice blends, you can find them at Cosmetics without Synthetics' (allnaturalcosmetics) website, which also sells many other all natural (or nearly all natural) cosmetics.

Well known aromatherapist, Alexandra Avery, also offers several perfume blends on her site (inexpensive), and she will also make a personal aromatherapy perfume for you (kind of pricey but probably worth it). She also sells a wonderful line of all natural skin care.

Aromatherapist Kendra Grace also sells some perfumes, along with her aromajewels. (They are kind of pricey though, but she is supposed to be an aromatherapist perfumer)

Or, of course, you can MIY! It is not only less expensive but you can unleash your creative spirit!
Simply add essential oils to either a base of jojoba oil or alcohol (everclear) anywhere from a 10% to 30% concentration. Perfume concentration ratios to make eau de toillete, parfum etc are here.
I brought MRH's rose essential oil sampler, and made a perfume of of the essential oils. The rose oil sampler contains Rosa damascena (same species) from three different regions, and they all smell different! Blended togther they are absolutely divine.

If you would rather have a spray then dilute the essential oils in alcohol, then add 3-12 drops of essential oils per ounce (12 drops will make a 2% concentration).

Or you can infuse fresh plant matter in jojoba oil or another carrier oil (you can try this with gardenias and lilies since it may be hard to find those blends). I suggest jojoba since it doesn't become rancid, but if you want to use another carrier, be sure to choose a lightly scented oil, and add either vitamin E or grapefruit seed oil to perserve its shelf life. The essential oils will also preserve it to some extend. You can also make an infused oil, if the essential oil isn't available or pricey. Be sure to use fresh and, if possible, organic flowers and herbs.

You can buy essential oils and jojoba oil at Whole Foods or at MRH, NG, or at Garden of Wisdom.

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