Saturday, October 21, 2006

More on Natural Perfume Making and Essential Oil Concentrations/Diluting Essential Oils (Aromatherapy)

I'm allergic to many synthetics which is why I switched to all natural products about 6 years back. Most commerical perfumes are made with hundreds of chemical components, and only a small amount of pure essential oil.

I've previously blogged about perfume concentrations and how to miy and where to buy perfume but I decided to post some more information.

How do I dilute essential oils to 1%, 2%, etc concentration?

To make a 1% essential oil concentration, add 6 drops of an essential oil (or essential oil blend) in 1 ounce of carrier. To make a 2% concentration, add 12 drops of essential oils in 1 ounce. There are 300-600 drops of liquid in an ounce, so you can calculate the rest.

Note: Never use more than a 2% concentration in a massage oil/body oil/cream/serum etc (most products). So whether you use one essential oil or twenty essential oils, don't use more than 12 drops total. The only exception is perfume, in which you would use up to a 30% concentration (the reason why such a high concentration is okay in perfumes is because you'd only use a couple drops of the product versus a teaspoon or more of the lotion etc. So the actual essential oil concentration you put on your skin is fairly low). And never apply essential oils neat to the skin (though some books say you can apply lavender and tea tree neat, this is only during emergencies like insect bites and only like a drop once or twice.) Always dilute for daily use.(When I hear that people apply large amounts of essential oils neat to their skin, I cringe because there have been some reports of fatal toxicity of certain essential oils in large amounts (around a teaspoon)).

What are top, middle, and base notes? And what are the best aromatherapy perfume making books?

A lot of basic aromatherapy texts explain top, middle, and base notes. But the best aromatherapy book I've found that focuses on perfume is Mindy Green's "The Natural Perfume Book". It is a small book but it gives a good overview on perfume making and also contains over 30 recipes; but it is out of print and when you can find it online, it is expensive; so try used book stores or try to request it through your local library. Mindy Green's and Kathi Keville's Aromatherapy: A complete guide to the healing art has a small section discussing perfume making (but only contains a few recipes), and is also a good overall aromatherapy primer. Mandy Aftel's book Essence and Alchemy is considered one of the best, and I think it gives a good overview on the history and also components of natural perfumes, however it hardly contains any recipes (just like 3 or 4). Nancy Booth's Perfumes, splashes, and colonges also has very good background info, however she includes fragrance oils along with essential oils in her recipes. i think it's a good reference but I don't use FOs so I found Green's book to be much more helpful. I've also heard that Chrissie Wildwood's Create Your Own Aromatherapy Perfumes: Enchanting Blends for Body and Home (2nd edition) is fantastic but it is out of print too and I haven't been able to get my hands on an inexpensive copy yet.

See my links for other aromatherapy books and online resources. I highly recommend getting at least three good aromatherapy primers in addition to the books above.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Breakdown of Natural and Synthetic Ingredients in a Cream (Natural Skin Care)

Which ingredients in my handcrafted cream are natural and which are synthetic?

Sometimes it can be tricky separating what's natural from what's synthetic because there is no regulation of what "natural" is.

But I try to use ingredients as natural as possible :)


Shea butter
Apricot kernel oil
Coconut oil
Aloe vera
Distilled water
Essential oils

Synthetic or Natural:

Vitamin E--can be natural or synthetically derived
Glycerine--can be synthetically derived from petroleum or naturally derived from vegetable oils


Germaben or Optiphen--synthetic preservatives

These are tricky:
stearic acid--I would say most people in the natural cosmetic industry consider this natural since it is a fatty acid; it is obtained from the hydrolis of fats or synthesis. But I think some people in the natural industry don't consider it natural because it is a component of fat and not the complete fat (the fat had to be broken down to get the fatty acid).

I should clarify that fatty acids are natural/found in nature; fats are composed of 1 to 3 fatty acid chains plus glycerine.

Emulsifying wax--I've seen this in many natural lines, but I'd say most people in the natural industry consider it synthetic. It can either be plant based or petroleum based; the wax is then treated with some sort of detergent (like SLS) or polysorbates. (So it may have some natural plant components but it is so processed in the end, that it isn't considered natural; it's not found in nature). But many natural companies use it because it is a more stable emulsion than beeswax/borax cream (which sometimes separates).

Shelf Life of Tinctures (Natural Skin Care/Medicine)

What is the shelf life of tinctures aka herbal extracts?

Some books say that tinctures aka herbal extracts have a shelf life of 2 years, but other books (which I consider better herbals) say 6 years or indefinitely. On the other hand, glycerites, a tincture made with glycerin instead of alcohol, have a shelf life of 1 year.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shelf life of kukui nut oil, jojoba oil, and evening primrose oil (Natural Skin Care)

What is the shelf life of kukui nut oil, jojoba oil, and evening primrose oil?

Kukui nut oil has a shelf life of 12-14 months, and evening primrose's shelf life is only about 6 months. Jojoba oil is good for several years because it is really a liquid wax and not an oil. Storing in the fridge will increase shelf life.

Kukui nut oil is one of the lightest oils around and absorbs instantly. Evening primrose oil (EPR) is a bit heavier in weight (but still absorbs quickly) and needs to be mixed with another carrier oil. EPR has a higher concentration of linolenic acid than kukui nut oil. Jojoba is a light-medium weight oil that absorbs quickly and is similar to the skin's natural sebum.

Kukui nut oil and EPR have some of the same properites but are very different oils. For oil properties you can go on Mountain Rose Herbs' website, and next to each oil click on the 'learn more' links. Nature's Gift and Aromaweb also have oil profiles.