Friday, March 30, 2012

033012 Li's Crafting Notes (Perfume Crafting)

It's been a long time since I've written a crafting notes entry. Much of my crafting in the past couple years has been devoted to my business and many of the new products I have crafted have eventually became Earth Alkemie products (I try to keep business information on my business blog, and personal information here) or they have became recipes on my eco living articles. Because of that, time, and health constraints I haven't been posting much about what I've been crafting for myself (or much on this blog for that matter)!

Since I've been posting much more regularly here again, I thought it was time to post a new 'Li's Crafting Notes'! Basically most of what I've been working on the last several weeks are perfumes. I am working on a perfume for my business called Chen (a few entries on crafting Chen will be posted on Earth Alkemie's blog over the next few weeks) and also perfumes for a perfume swap I am in.

I am a long time member of 'The Dish' forum, which is one of the largest soap and crafting forums online. I like many of the people there and I have participated in a few of the swaps. This is the third perfume swap I have been a part of.

Basically for this swap or challenge, we have to create a perfume that must contain five basic ingredients: lavender, fir, labdanum, clove, and ambrette. We are allowed to use any form of these so we can use the essential oil, absolute, co2 extract, tincture, etc (if available), and also allowed to add whatever other ingredients to the perfume. Since it is a natural swap, we are only using natural ingredients and no fragrance/synthetic oils. (Commercial perfumes are either completely or mostly synthetic with either no or little natural ingredients. But there are a few natural perfumers, including me, that make 100% natural perfumes, and there are a few other mostly natural perfumers that make nearly all natural perfumes with traces of synthetics). Making a natural perfume definitely costs more (since the natural ingredients cost a lot more than synthetic fragrances) but I think they are worth every penny!

I have been working on a few different perfumes (perfumes take time to age, so their scent greatly alters over time, so crafting a few to see which one matures the best!). So far I have crafted three and I will see which one ages the best. There is still a month until the due date since it was extended again (so I have time to craft maybe one more if I make it within the next couple days, but it is kind of pushing the time frame it will need to age).

I am trying to use some of the more unusual forms of the plants, like lavender absolute or Himalayan lavender essential oil, and ambrette co2 extract. I also have some rare white rose co2 extract I am using in some of the perfumes (white rose essential oil is pretty rare, and the co2 extract is even rarer. To my nose: white rose's scent is very intense, sweet, and very 'rosey', and has less of the herbal/green notes than damask rose essential oil).

I've crafted three perfumes so far. One of them I absolutely adore so far. It seems to be aging well. One of the additional ingredients I used in it was frangipani absolute, another kind of rare absolute (there are several species of frangipani that are used in making absolutes). Most frangipani scents on the market are not the real absolute but are the synthetic fragrance. I think this is one of the best perfumes I have crafted, made with pre-dilutions.

The second I like but it seems to be missing something so I will be tweaking that. In this one I tried to use lavender as a top note (most sources say it is a middle note, though a few people consider it a top note or a top to middle note) and I think I definitely like using it as a middle note better; in most of my past perfumes I have always used lavender as a middle note. I think that is why my nose thinks something is missing since the other tops notes (not including lavender) in this perfume are small, and when I smell lavender, though it is the first thing I smell in this perfume, my mind doesn't register it as a top note. As time passes this one smells better and better though so maybe I am just being too picky. :)

The third one I really like too but some notes, especially the lemon myrtle, are still a little strong. But as time passes it is becoming more mellow, so over the next week or so I will see if it needs tweaking or to leave it as it. The lemon myrtle is potent, I didn't add too much but it kind of has over taken the perfume, but as it ages, and that note becomes softer, and the other notes are coming out to play, I like it more and more.

If I have time I will work on a fourth one (but will need to do that over the next few days so it has some time to age).

It has been a challenge since I have never worked with fir absolute (I am also using a different fir for some of the perfumes too) or ambrette. I am also working with pre-dilutions (that is diluting my essential oils etc with carrier oils, and then using the dilutions to make the perfume), which I hardly ever do. Many other perfumers like working with dilutions, but I prefer to dilute everything afterwards since I think I am a better perfumer doing it that way.

Also for this challenge, I am not working with accords to save some time in crafting. I love using accords when making perfumes (since I am better at creating extremely complex perfumes when I use that technique) but sometimes I use them and sometimes I don't in perfume making. It depends on the perfume; I have crafted some beautiful perfumes without accords, and for most of my aromatherapy blends I don't use accords either. But some of my favorite and best perfumes were made with accords.

After I craft the perfumes I will submit the best smelling one I have for the swap. I can't wait to smell everyone else's creations!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eco Living: Potato Eye Remedy

My newest eco living article is up on anb mall! Since it is almost St. Patrick's Day I decided to write about an Irish associated ingredient that is used in natural herbal skin care: the potato! My eco living article is called "Potato Eye Remedy" since I have posted a few recipes for eye skin care using the humble potato!

Raw potatoes are great ingredients to use in skin care. In these recipes I have used a few common household ingredients like potatoes, organic whole milk, and chamomile (the herb or the tea). These recipes can help brighten and lighten the eye area, banish some types of dark circles, and may also help eye puffiness in some people. Two of the three recipes are vegan. I have listed a few of the properties of these ingredients too. And most people probably already have all the ingredients in their cupboards!

Notes: make sure the potatoes are raw, uncooked. And the remedies work best chilled.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

All Natural, Do It Yourself Skin Care Recipes and Books

One of the things I love doing most is crafting all natural skin care. So I love sharing recipes for making simple, natural, 'kitchen', DIY (Do It Yourself), MIY (Make It Yourself) cosmetics. There are many recipes located on this blog (you may have to do a search in the search box--located in the upper top left hand side of this blog--to find them, because although some of the more popular posts are listed on the right hand side of this blog, there are over two hundred entries on this blog, so I can't link all of my posts on the right side). Search using the name of the herb/plant first (such as 'aloe'), and if that doesn't help, then I recommend searching for the basic type of recipe (like 'brown sugar scrub').

Here is my list for other good (free) recipes online:

One of my friends, Sharon, has three amazing all natural beauty (anb) websites, and all three websites have skin care and hair care recipes from herbalists, aromatherapists, natural skin care formulators, skin care business owners, and/or diy recipe enthusiasts, including herbal and aromatherapy pioneer Jeanne Rose and aromatherapist Alexandra Avery. I have posted many recipes on all three websites too (either under Li Wong or the user names Snowcat or Solarkat). I have been posting recipes and articles on the anb websites for many years (years before I ever started my all natural skin care and DIY ingredient business, Earth Alkemie). I am proud to say that Earth Alkemie is an all natural beauty partner to all three anb websites! (The criteria to become an anb partner is very strict, especially for anb portal and all natural beauty website). There are so many amazing recipes, articles, and other companies listed on her websites, so I highly recommend checking them out.

The all natural beauty website has a nice recipe section. Be sure to also check out the articles (many of which discuss ingredients and herbs) and also the list of all natural companies too!

There are a lot of recipes on anb portal. Some of the recipes are the same as the ones on all natural beauty website, but others are exclusive to the anb portal.

There are several beauty recipes on anb mall.

I have many recipes in my eco living articles on anb mall. This includes recipes not posted in the anb mall beauty recipe section above, and my articles also include more in depth notes. I have also written a lot of articles on green house cleaning (including recipes) and many other eco living topics.

The other article sections (beautiful living, inspired living, and the general article section) of anb mall have some recipes too.

One of my favorite forums, skin care talk has a nice recipe section too. I have posted one recipe there (for a vinegar based toner).

Here are some links to several good book reviews or book lists:

A long time ago I wrote several posts on book recommendations or book reviews on natural skin care (herbal, aromatherapy, and other books) here on this blog. The link will bring you to many of my previous posts. :)

This is Sharon's list of books and their links to amazon, and some reviews on anb portal.

In my spotlight (about my plant background) on the anb websites, I have listed many books, scientific journals, and other resources (it's a long spotlight, so you will have to scroll down in the article for this info).

My friend Markey of Garden of Wisdom has also listed some of her favorite books on her website (she offers a lot of nice ingredients too).

Amazon has great prices for used books (many of them are only available used). A few of the more popular ones may be available as an e-book, but many of my favorites are not yet available as e-books.

Your local library may have some books or you can request them through interlibrary loan. Sometimes libraries have annual (old library book) sales too. Another good place to try are local used book stores.