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Guide To The Culture of Scents

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A Trip Down Memory Lane And Tribute

As we all know, choosing the right perfume is tricky. With a large number of choices these days it can be an overwhelming task. Finding that scent that is unique to you. You can do this better with fragrance oils because there they are most flexible and unique. It took me a while to narrow down what I like in a scent for myself. As a child, I associated being "home" with the whiff of something sweet and luxurious. Like coming home from school and walking in the kitchen while Mom was at the kitchen table paying bills. Familiar and a sight I took for granted till it was gone forever. Later I would learn a few things about myself and the role of scent in my emotional wellbeing, one that I have a strong sense of smell and two Mom used a combination of  Chanel #5 and Beautiful by Estée Lauder. It is incredible the things we remember about someone after they've passed. I spent hours blending scents and sniffing her clothes to replicate the exact scent that reminded me of her. Sometimes I would open up a closet or a box and be hit with her scent from something small of hers that was still in there. It would wash over me with a memory of her like a gentle hug. 

Choosing Your Favorite Scent

Ask yourself these three questions :

  • What is your favorite flower or fruit?
  • Do you prefer a heavy blend or a soft lingering scent?
  • What is the fondest scent memory you have and can you find the closest replication of it?

Choosing a scent is a deeply personal journey. And it is a journey every woman should take at least once in her life. It is identifying your spirit and manifesting it in a scent that defines you.  I have found mine in a combination of essential oils and distills at the base of which are roses. 

Here are a few we've made with you in mind. The key to narrowing down what you like is trying many and then singling out the few and if possible working with a creator to blend you one that is unique to you. We are happy to work with you to blend your signature scent, just email us at theearthyalchemist@gmail.com

In the meantime see if any of these tickle your fancy.

We have carefully curated a collection of scents for every lifestyle. A fun and flirty scent that is invigorating never go wrong in any crowd or at any time. Blue Moon Perfume Oil

The mysterious hint of allure and romance is perfectly captured in this rose blend Fleur Perfume Oil. My personal favorite.

This next one I formulated with the help of my 12-year-old. This is an interesting age for us both because my little girl began to raid my perfume collection in secret. My excellent detective work sniffed a trail straight to her bathroom where I found her trying out a few of my perfumes, and it smelled a lot like a French brothel. And before she went to school and gave the class a headache. I decided it was time to help her find her scent story. So we did some excavation. And the result was extraordinary escapes into wonderful scents. It is a refreshing citrus and herb pick me up that is blended with spearmint, rosemary and balancing this out with a calming hint of chamomile and sage with nourishing oils as the base to hold all this goodness in check. 

The Story of Scent

All natural oil-based perfumes have an illustrious history from the beginning of time steeped in cultural and even religious factors. The world's first recorded chemist is a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker whose existence was first discovered on a 1200 BCE.

Perfume and perfumery also existed in the Indus Valley Civilization. One of the earliest distillation of Ittar was mentioned in Ayurvedic texts. A terra-cotta distillation apparatus in the Indus valley together with oil containers made of the same material have been carbon dated at 3000 B.C., much earlier than we conventionally believe that distillation practices isolating oils existed. 

Arabs and Persians had access to a wide array of spices, resins, herbs, precious woods, and animal fragrance materials such as ambergris and musk. Rose, jasmine bitter orange and other citrus trees were native to the region and could be successfully cultivated in the Middle East, and are to this day key ingredients in perfumery.

Perfume oils are what I would call a timeless obsession. The use of fragrance oils is spreading from indie scent makers to big names like Prada. It makes sense, given the current trend of face oils and hair oils, which may I add has been the way of life for centuries in eastern cultures. Perfume oils do have a distinct advantage over the more mainstream alcohol-based perfumes. The oils last longer since alcohol evaporates faster and this makes even the best perfumes lose their clarity and strength as the day wears on. I prefer roll-ons and vials with droppers because studies indicate that we lose 50% of a spray of traditional perfume into the air. 

I remember my mom gave me strict instructions when I was allowed to use perfume which was when I turned 12. She told me never to spray directly on my skin. I took that advice to heart and so I spent years spraying expensive perfumes like Escada and Gucci into the air and walked under it -  all the while losing scent to the air around me before it made it to my person. Oil-based scents are much less drying to skin and hair than traditional alcohol-based perfumes. If you are in the habit of spraying perfumes directly on the skin, it is good to remember that as the alcohol evaporates to spread the fragrance of a traditional perfume, it takes with it your skin's natural oils, leaving your skin drier. Perfume oils are moisturizing, making them less irritating and more suitable for people with dry skin. In my late teens and early 20s through my travels to other countries, I discovered the allure of ittar or attar. I stopped using my expensive perfumes and fell in love with my ittar collection. Ittar also is known as attar, is an essential oil derived from botanical sources that use a very intricate distilling process. Most commonly these oils are extracted via hydro or steam distillation. Traditionally in the Eastern world, it was a customary practice among nobility to offer ittar to their guests at the time of their departure as a lasting impression of their time together. The ittars are traditionally given in ornate tiny crystal bottles called as itardans. Ittars/attars can range in price from a few tens to a few hundred depending on the ingredients being distilled and how long they have been aged. Some are aged for years.

Present World Perfumes

People are wearing fragrance differently now and perfume oil fits a more modern style of personal scent. Gone are the clouds of fragrance that float in before you do and overtake the room. Perfume oils tend to wear closer to the skin, which is bad if you want people to smell you coming from across the room -- or the street -- but great if you are wearing them to the office or other environments where you want to enjoy your fragrance without offending others.

How to Apply Fragrance Oil

A couple of tips about the application, if you’re new to perfume oils, or perfume in general… dab on, don’t rub when applying your perfume oil. Rubbing the oil into your skin breaks down the sensitive top notes, such as citrus and florals. If you have problems with the scent being absorbed too quickly, simply moisturize skin before you apply it. As to where you should apply perfume oil to your body? Like Coco Chanel said, "where you want to be kissed..".

Oil-Based Perfumes: The Good and The Bad

Lotus + Aire Ayurvedic natural fragrance oils and the history of scent

Advocates for oil-based fragrances say that oil-based scents are better because they are natural. Fragrance oils are indeed pure natural oils, and if you make it a rule only to purchase all-natural products, the choice should be a pretty easy one for you.

Oil-based perfumes have an added advantage not only will you smell amazing, but you also feel great because essential oils have the potential for aromatherapy. Essential oils make great moisturizers and finally, oil-based perfumes tend to cost more than alcohol-based scents because of all that wonderful aroma and that wonderful smell, perfumers have to use the purest oils and a lot of it. For oil-based adherents, though, it’s definitely worth the extra cost. 

Having said that, let me also mention that there are many cheap knockoffs and diluted fragrance oils on the market which are less than effective. I would also caution anyone with little to no experience from attempting to experiment with essential oils. EOs are strong and a small slip in quantity can harm your skin and even your sense of smell. Work with someone experienced or for starters grab a pre-blended fragrance oil.

Don't let a few missteps deter you from exploring this form of perfume.  


“A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future.” 

― Coco Chanel

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