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Posts tagged ‘natural perfumery’


musical language of perfumery

Creating perfumes is definitely an art. Just as a master musician composes a symphony, so too does a perfumer create a harmonious blend combinations with ‘musical notes’ that are pleasing to the senses.

Although I truly adore natural perfumes, (I won’t use synthetics – they are an attack on my senses and is the main reason I started my whole essential oil journey), certain popular fragrances can appeal to me at times, but I still won’t buy them and choose to create my own with naturals.

Throughout history there has been much written about how compositions are created using musical characteristics to describe them.  Each essential oil has a ‘note’, whether a top note that dissipates quickly (like lemon or lime), or a heart note (middle note- like rose or jasmine), or a base note that holds a blend together (like sandalwood or patchouli). Did you ever wonder how that came about?

The art of perfumery goes back centuries, and many chemists/scientists and geniuses have used musical inspirations to describe their uses and combinations. I found this great blog post from ‘perfumeconcubine’ and had to share it to give a little more insight:

Aromatic Symphony

The musical language lends numerous expressions and phrases to the art of perfumery. Some of its terminology helps us to understand how perfumes are composed from conception to conclusion.
Charles Piesse, a French perfumer from the 19th century, was one of the first to equate music to perfume.  He devised a system to identify perfume ingredients by classifying fragrances according to musical notes. Piesse relates odors to the octaves of the musical scale and theorized that scents influence olfactory nerves in the same manner that sounds influence the auditory nerves. Although his method of classification ultimately failed, musical expressions continue to be a mainstay in the art of perfumery.

Just as a musician harmonizes notes to create chords, a perfumer must be proficient in harmonizing scents into fragrant combinations. Thus, the creation of perfume should be pleasing to both the mind and senses. The experience should emulate the composition of an intricate piece of music. For example, a three-part fugue with the olfactory notes being the key signature, the usage of notes identifying the individual elements of the arrangement – as well as describing the perfume and how it smells as it evaporates from the skin. Therefore, it is imperative that the perfumer has vast knowledge of raw materials, and a clear understanding of how they evolve and change.

Dry Down – what does it mean when describing a scent? It’s the “lifetime” of a fragrance; the phases a fragrance goes through when worn.

(LOVE THIS!!!  <3)

____________The process is initiated with the master seated at the fragrance organ, his surroundings being an array of aromatics. There, the inhalation of exotic scents, along with the distinguishing of olfactory notes, takes place.  Imagine this phase as the prelude, an extravaganza of brilliant notes coming together in unison.  Bear in mind that notes show more than the aspect of the perfume’s range, they also can represent a particular quality or tone that reflects the mood of the composition.

The first movement begins with what is referred to as top notes. Typically citrus odors, bright and bursting with freshness and, on occasion, is considered sharp. Although quite expressive, they seem to maintain lightness, as well as lending to the initial impression of the composition. They are also the most volatile of the notes, being the first to evaporate. The dissipation of the top notes quickly transitions us into the second movement or middle notes.

Middle notes are predominately floral aromas, and as they unfold they exhibit the true heart of the composition, adding fullness, roundness, and complexity. Middle notes, can be either heady and exotic or delicate and subdued. They emerge as the perfume warms on the skin, escorting us gracefully into the third movement or the base notes.

Base notes — originating from woods, resins, and spices — are rich, warm and exotic. They are viscous, having a consistency between solid and liquid. And they also have a dual function and are held in high esteem for their fixative qualities. That anchors the composition, completing the structural unity necessary to achieve harmony while, at the same time, adding longevity. The base notes emerge slowly, almost as if the movement is marked adagio, bringing the symphony to its entirety. Base notes are the last to surface but have the longest duration, or in musical terms sustainability. Base notes leave their clinging impression behind by embracing us for hours, thus completing the fragrance evolution.

Not every symphony will be vivacious or sparkle with brilliance. Depending on the composer, the concert may be inferior, lacking life, or absent of character, with tonality being non-existent. On the other hand, a symphony composed by a true virtuoso will be exquisite, giving an accurate exposition on his thematic idea. Every note being smooth and harmonic as they progressively transition from one phase to another, accompanying us gracefully through the fragrance evolution.

An aromatic symphony is a classical perfume, bearing semblance to a beautiful musical composition, one of consonance, as simple notes mingle and produce harmonious blends.

Great book about Charles Piesse’s workThe art of perfumery and the methods of obtaining the odours of plants; the growth and general flower farm system of raising fragrant herbs; with … dentifrices, cosmetics, perfumed soap, etc

Other great reading for natural perfumery; Anya’s Garden Perfumes

MORE; natural perfumery books

WIKIPEDIA perfume: HOW to Describe a perfume:

The most practical way to start describing a perfume is according to the elements of the fragrance notes of the scent or the “family” it belongs to, all of which affect the overall impression of a perfume from first application to the last lingering hint of scent.[13][14]

Fragrance notes

Main article: Note (perfumery)

Perfume is described in a musical metaphor as having three sets of notes, making the harmonious scent accord. The notes unfold over time, with the immediate impression of the top note leading to the deeper middle notes, and the base notes gradually appearing as the final stage. These notes are created carefully with knowledge of the evaporation process of the perfume.

  • Top notes: The scents that are perceived immediately on application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person’s initial impression of a perfume and thus are very important in the selling of a perfume. Also called the head notes.
  • Middle notes: The scent of a perfume that emerges just prior to the dissipation of the top note. The middle note compounds form the “heart” or main body of a perfume and act to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant with time. They are also called the heart notes.
  • Base notes: The scent of a perfume that appears close to the departure of the middle notes. The base and middle notes together are the main theme of a perfume. Base notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume. Compounds of this class of scents are typically rich and “deep” and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after application.

The scents in the top and middle notes are influenced by the base notes, as well the scents of the base notes will be altered by the type of fragrance materials used as middle notes. Manufacturers of perfumes usually publish perfume notes and typically they present it as fragrance pyramid, with the components listed in imaginative and abstract terms.

Fragrance wheel

Fragrance Wheel perfume classification chart, ver. 1983

Main article: Fragrance wheel

The Fragrance wheel is a relatively new classification method that is widely used in retail and in the fragrance industry. The method was created in 1983 by Michael Edwards, a consultant in the perfume industry, who designed his own scheme of fragrance classification. The new scheme was created in order to simplify fragrance classification and naming scheme, as well as to show the relationships between each of the individual classes.[15]

The five standard families consist of Floral, Oriental, Woody, Fougère, and Fresh, with the former four families being more “classic” while the latter consisting of newer bright and clean smelling citrus and oceanic fragrances that have arrived due to improvements in fragrance technology. Each of the families are in turn divided into sub-groups and arranged around a wheel.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c


Natural Perfume Notes: Suspect Sniffs – Pleasing Aromas Harbor Hidden Dangers

had to share this great post by new awakenings mag about more benefits of natural perfumes vs synthetics:

Pleasing Aromas Harbor Hidden Dangers

A special aroma may be pleasing to the senses and psyche, but some perfume fragrances contain dangerous synthetic and toxic ingredients that can enter the body through the skin and lungs. Scientists at the Hospital General Universitario de Valencia, in Spain, found that about one in every 10 people will consequently suffer allergic reactions that include itchy, scaly, discolored, painful skin and asthma attacks. The European Union Scientific Committee on Cosmetic and Non-Food Products warns against their damage to the immune and endocrine systems, and Greenpeace cautions that the harmful ingredients can enter ecosystems.

read the rest of the article here; Suspect Sniffs – Pleasing Aromas Harbor Hidden Dangers.

you may also be interested in: more about natural perfumes here

great point about natural perfumes

Natural perfumes are 100 times better than their synthetic counterparts, for a multitude of reasons. But it’s easy to see why they are getting more use these days as so many of us are concerned about our ever-increasing toxic environments.

One thing you might not have known and is a great point about natural perfumes is a comment by Ananda from Amrita Aromatherapy about wearing a natural perfume: (one of her lovely perfumes is called SWOON see it here on poppyswap)

Depending on your body chemistry, how much you apply, and your activities while you wear it, it will evolve and unfold on your skin over the course of 2-4 hours. Natural perfumes usually wear close to the skin and are not meant to enter a room before you – they are meant to be your intimate affirmation and personal, sensual ritual.

Natural Perfume can be applied to the pulse points, navel, and

hair as often as you desire.

So true!

Check out this cool video of how to make natural perfumes:

Have you ever tried wearing natural perfume? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it and if you’d wear it again.

Ginger in perfumery and aromatherapy

I love the spicy, sexy, fresh, and sometimes earthy scent of ginger! It’s perfect for the cold winter months, and is such a lovely warming essential oil, I’m sure you’ll find some wonderful uses for it. Read on for more ideas.

It’s a fabulous essential oil to use in perfumery or aromatherapy for a number of reasons. I found  lots of great info….(thank you CaFleureBon! and Divine Caroline!)


Ginger is a spice, biting sometimes, fresh and mild if young and tender, hot and fragrant when mature, and quite potent when old.  It may be called gingembre in French, gingifere in Old English, even inji ver (Tamil) or by its scientific name Zingiber officinale.  Other members of this fragrant family include ginger lily, galangal (Thai ginger), turmeric, and cardamom.  Ginger lily rhizomes and flowers both produce fragrant products that may be distilled or extracted for perfumery. There are more than 1000 species in the ginger family from Africa, Asia, and the Americas and many of them are fragrant. All have large rhizomes or underground stems that are fleshy and often spicy.  Many are used as ornamental plants having unusual flowers and attractive foliage. The flowers and leaves may also be used in food preparation in addition to the rhizome.  From this large family with scented leaves, flowers, seeds, and rhizomes we get a wondrous variety of fragrant products but it is ancient and complex ginger that is most familiar and perhaps most widely used.

Ginger can be used in aromatherapy preparations to reduce nausea, inflammation and help circulation. Ginger is also a very strong antiseptic and antibacterial and is widely used in many countries to prevent or heal colds and just to support the immune system.

The combination of orange (citrus, fresh, and sweet) and ginger (spicy, warm, and radiant) is a harmonious delight, very unique in character and is set apart as one of the best energizing duos of aromatherapy.


Ginger essential oil is used in perfumery to add spice and depth to Oriental or spice blends. It’s also valuable for incense or gourmand fragrances and a tiny bit will add interest to florals.  When fresh ginger is distilled it keeps a light, lemony and fresh ginger note that is lovely with citruses and tropical florals. Fresh ginger essential oil has a true zingy ginger odor highlighted by a lemony topnote while the other has a deep, spicy, woody scent sometimes accompanied by a hint of earthiness. Fresh ginger essential oil adds an interesting unique vibrancy to oriental perfumes. While it is often compared to black pepper or cinnamon bark, its spice is fresh and uplifting. Fresh ginger is unexpected and original and adds freshness, heat and spice to floral blends. It blends well with amber, bitter orange, petitgrain and pink lotus. It is worth seeking out a truly great fresh ginger as many ginger essential oils on the market can have a “cooked” note and lack the vibrancy that a good quality fresh ginger oil possesses.Two types of essential oil are produced from ginger, one from the dried rhizome and one from the fresh rhizome. There are three main components, zingerone, shogaols,and gingerols that make up about 1 – 3 percent of the weight and give the characteristic odor and flavor. 

There are over 1000 species of the ginger family. The whole plant has a fragrance, but mostly the roots (actually rhizomes ) are used. There are so many uses of ginger root: esthetics, perfumery, medicinal, culinary. Ginger flowers are big red or pink bud clusters, commonly used in the floral and landscape design industry for their bright colors, strong stems and long-lasting flowers.

Ginger can stimulate the circulatory system and warm the body, all influences that may contribute to its effects as an aphrodisiac. It also increases the heart rate and circulation. Perhaps the spicy rich fragrance is also a signal for romance and passion.  Avicenna, the ancient Arab physician credited ginger with increasing lustful yearnings and as a cure for impotence.  The French Courtesan, Madame du Barry, who was mistress to Louis XV, was said to feed ginger to her lovers to make them completely submissive to her desires.  The Kama Sutra mentions it as an enhancement for love making.  In Senegal women have worn belts containing ginger roots to enhance their partner’s desire and it has been used in love rituals throughout Asia and the South Pacific. Sometimes known as the plant of burning desire, ginger has spice, it has a sweet richness, it has complexity and a sharp tang.  Keep a bit of ginger around as an important ingredient in the formula of love.

See the rest of CaFleureBon’s post here and maybe win some prizes!.


Ginger for Stomach Upsets and Pregnancy Morning Sickness
It is believed that ginger (zingiber officinale) was brought to Europe between the 10th and 15th century to be used as a condiment. It has been used for medicinal purposes since the ancient times and is recorded specifically in both Chinese and Sanskrit writings. It is also mentioned in the classic literature from the Greeks and was used in the sybaritic sanctuaries of the Romans. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the ginger root.

Ginger has been revered for thousands of years as a universal medicine, especially in countries such as China and India. The Spanish introduced ginger to the West Indies in the 16th century, and today it is renowned for its healing properties and recognized as a popular spice. Ginger root is well known as a culinary herb used in Asian cooking, but in aromatherapy, ginger essential oil kicks a punch for many different aliments, especially fast relief for easing an upset stomach.

It may be inhaled from a tissue to alleviate indigestion and morning sickness during pregnancy. Ginger oil is a nice addition to your massage oil or body scrub, as it can ease minor aches and pains. The warming properties of ginger oil makes it a wonderful choice for a soothing yet invigorating bath and will help improve circulation.

For treating bruises and sores on the skin, ginger is one of the best oils and rubbing it on the affected areas should speed the healing process, and ease the pain associated with the injury. In steam inhalations, it is helpful for colds and flu, and its germicidal properties make it an excellent choice to combat infections. As one of the more odoriferous oils, ginger should be used in moderation, but as you can see, the affinity with orange is unmistakable.

The emphasis when blending essential oils is on the final aroma, not its therapeutic properties. Orange and ginger together create a beautiful fragrant bouquet, with the added bonus being that they also work really well therapeutically.

Orange and Ginger Massage Blend
Add three drops of orange and two drops ginger to your favorite carrier oil. The best carrier oils to use when making a massage blend are jojoba oil and sesame seed oil. Jojoba oil has a very similar chemical makeup to our own skin’s composition, plus during massage, it keeps the skin lubricated to prevent damage. Sesame seed oil plays a vital role because it penetrates into the skin readily and helps remove toxins. A basic massage blends consist of four to five drops of essential oils and one cup of carrier oil. Shake to mix well. Read the rest of divine carolines’s article here.
More about Ginger in PerfumeryFor those who love fragrances with ginger notes,  recommended:

1. Midnight Poison by Dior
2. Elle by Yves St Laurent
3. DKNY Delicious Night by Donna Karan

Also; ginger is lovely with any citrus and floral essential oils such as jasmine, neroli, pink lotus, and lots of others. Have fun with it!

great list of links for natural perfumers

If you love making natural perfumes, or are just interested in the essential oils,  flowers, resins and plants involved in the process, you may find these links (from WhiteLotus aromatics) worth a gander: (photo – natural perfumery (


Also, see this post for more links and recommended books.

notes on diluting essential oils for perfumes

As Robin Lander from Simpler’s Botanicals states, “Creating your own fragrances is a playful art, requiring little more than intuition, imagination, a passion for aroma, and attention to a few simple guidelines. There are no absolute rules as to which oils blend well together, so feel free to experiment! But remember, your blend will be greatly enhanced by using the highest quality pure plant essential oils you can find.”

I couldn’t agree more, but one thing to keep in mind before even beginning your perfume playtime is to always, always dilute your essential oils before using them in a blend. Essential oils are super concentrated substances, and most don’t even have a beautiful aroma right out of the bottle. Most will open up and become the beautiful scents they are ONLY when highly diluted. I like to use either jojoba, or fractionated coconut oil as they both have little to no scent, and help the essential oil last longer.

Take jasmine, for instance; a popular essential oil in many perfumes. Jasmine in it’s purely concentrated form is highly floral to a point that it’s almost cloying, while putting off a dizzying and narcotic act upon the nervous system in that form, and will only give up it’s beautiful melange of notes after it is highly diluted.  Same goes for rose, neroli, and most other essential oils you might want to use in a perfume blend.


Perfumes or scents, however, exert not only an agreeable impression on the olfactory organ, but their effect extends to the entire nervous system, which they stimulate; when used in excess, they are apt to cause headache in sensitive persons; the laborers in the chemical factories where these substances are produced on a large scale, occasionally even suffer by reason of their stimulating action on the nerves.

For this reason perfumes should never be employed otherwise than in a very dilute condition; this necessity arises from a peculiarity of the odorous substances which when concentrated and pure have by no means pleasant smell and become fragrant only when highly diluted.

Oil of roses, of orange flowers or of jasmine in fact nearly all aromatic substances have an almost disagreeable odor when concentrate; only in an extremely dilute state they yield those delightful scents which we admire so much in the blossoms from which they are derived.

Aromaweb suggests, (which I agree completely with) that aromatic blending for the sheer pleasure of the aroma is a combination of creativity and science. When using a blend created primarily for its fragrance, therapeutic benefit can also occur. The focus of the blend, however, is on the final aroma, not its therapeutic properties.

Safety precautions should be followed for any type of blending, including for aromatic blending. For instance, you would still want to be extremely careful when using Bergamot because of its phototoxic properties and still avoid using all hazardous oils and all oils that are contraindicated for conditions that you have. (Link to Bergaptene Free Bergamot essential oil for sale on Amazon)

Blending Tips

  • When creating a new blend, start out small with a total number of drops of either 5, 10, 20 or 25 drops. 25 drops should be the most that you start with. By starting small, you waste less oil in your blending experiments.
  • Start creating your blend by only using essential oils, absolutes or CO2s. After you have designed the blend, then you can dilute it by adding carrier oils, alcohol, etc. If you hate the blend you created, you have then not wasted any carrier oils or alcohol.
  • Keep a notebook that lists each oil that you used with the number of drops used for each oil. When the creative juices flow, it is easy to get carried away and later forget the exact recipe for your blend; one drop too much or too little of even one oil can drastically change the aroma of your blend. When you find that perfect blend, you want to be able to reduplicate it, and it’s near impossible if you didn’t take notes! If you are especially ambitious, it’s also a wise idea to note the vendor name of the oil that you used as the aroma and quality of oils do vary between vendors (even with the same vendor, the aroma of oils can vary from batch to batch, due to crop fluctuations and resourcing).
  • To store your beautiful creations, perfume sample bottles and 2ml amber “shortie” bottles are very inexpensive and can often be purchased from aromatherapy vendors and glass bottle companies.
  • Be sure to label your blends clearly. If you don’t have enough room to specify exactly what your blend is, label it with a number that corresponds to a number in your notebook.
  • Start off your blending experiments by creating blends that are made up in the following ratio (you do not have to be exact – this is just a guideline to get you started): 30% of the oils are top notes, 50% are middle notes, and 20% are base notes. See the chart above to find out what oils belong to each category.
  • Some oils are much stronger than others, especially the absolutes and CO2s. Study oils you wish to use in a given blend and observe the oils that have the strongest aromas. Unless you want those oils to dominate the blend, you will want to use dramatically less of the stronger oils in your blend.
  • To learn more about the strength of oils, it is useful to experiment. Begin by adding one drop of a selected essential oil to 4 drops carrier oil. This will result in a 20% dilution. Smell it and study the aroma. To obtain a 10% dilution, add 5 more drops of carrier oil. Smell it, study the aroma again, then repeat as desired. This can help educate you on the characteristics and strengths of each essential oil at various dilution ratios.
  • After creating your blend, allow it to sit for a few days before deciding if you love or hate it. The constituents (natural chemicals) contained within the oils will get cozy with each other and the aroma can change, usually rounding out a bit.

See their page here for more information on different notes (such as top, middle, and base notes, as well as many other helpful tips and notes on blending essential oils into perfumes).

About aging and diluting aromatic blends:

When you think you have the blend you like make sure to age your perfume before adding any other carriers or alcohol. Allow the blend to age at least a week or more before adding them to your chosen carrier oils. Usually, a 10% – 15% dilution of essential oil to carrier oil is appropriate for perfume applications and 5 – 15 drops of blend per ounce of carrier oil for healing massage blends. If you don’t immediately love your creation, be patient. Blends undergo great transformations as they age, and over time your ‘mistake’ could evolve into an aromatic treasure.

Link to 2 oz. amber bottles w/ droppers@Amazon

Links and a Helpful List of Books for Natural Perfumery

I love my natural perfumery group. They are so helpful and chock full of useful info… I was looking up something and saw this post today for a newbie and thought this would really be beneficial for those who are interested in the wonders of natural botanicals and creating scent blends with them…

The Scent Trail by Celia Lyttelton
Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin– Arctander ( This book is wicked pricey)
The Art of Perfumery by Septimus Piesse
The Rogue Perfumer by Dr. Bobbie Kelley ( This is a book by the perfumer of Paragon Perfumes, not entirely natural)
The Secret of Scent (science and history of smell) by Luca Turin
375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols by Jeanne Rose

Links/Info sites
http://bojensen. net/  one of my fav sites, it goes into the chemical makeup of different botanical ingredients

http://hausofwaft. com/generalized- aromatics- and-ingredients- list/  a very basic list of things used in aromatics com/watch? v=VJuR9dmRH5Y  Boris the Perfumer ( Wonderful late perfumer Alec Lawless) com/watch? v=KwVcFczU6i4 com/watch? v=BUj6jpnXh3I& feature=relmfu  Alec Lawless on the Adulteration of essential oils, this is a 3 part interview com/watch? v=jbRFmIx3Vpo& feature=channel& list=UL  This a BBC documentary on perfume, I think its in about10 parts,very interesting.

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