Monday, October 12, 2015

Natural Perfumery and Essential Oils

One of the first things that I started studying when I started my line was Essential Oils. Essential Oils are so insanely interesting to me. They are like the very essence of a plant, distilled down, concentrated, and in a usable form. There was always something magical to me about herbs and natural medicine. Maybe it was my time on the Navajo Reservation in my early teens. Seeing how closely knit their spirituality and nature were bound, I gleaned that philosophy in my own life. My mother always had a garden, and taught me about magical plants in out back yard. Plantain, for example (no not the cousin of the Banana) grows all over the US. This little plant is good for everything from stopping bleeding to treating bites and stings. Once I started learning about Essential Oils, I knew that they would change my life.

 I remember watching a movie a few years back, Perfume. Despite the movie essentially being about a guy that kills women to make perfume from their smell, the movie shows a lot about traditional French Perfumery. My combined interest in Natural Skin Care and Herbal Medicine brought me to start also studying Traditional French Perfume. Before the age of chemicals, perfumes were made using all natural ingredients, instead of paraben-based artificial fragrances. The true art of perfumery exists now only in select few places. Little shops and Artisans, like myself, with a true passion for the art keep it alive.

Something that I do not talk about enough, is my essential oil blending. My products are unique, in that each essential oil blend (even those for specific therapeutic applications) follows French Perfume blending guidelines and is composed in the same manor as a perfume. Aromatherapy is very powerful, and a whiff of essential oils can chase away a headache as well as the blues. These essences are powerful and magical to say the least.

I look around Etsy sometimes, at all the products being made with beautiful ingredients and then ruined with Fragrance. One of my favorite "Natural" companies still uses Fragrances instead of Essential Oils in most of their products. Its like going through the effort to eat clean and then dumping Ranch Dressing all over it. Yes, it does taste delicious, but took your meal from 500 to 2500 calories. (If that makes sense :)

It takes years to become a master of perfumery. I am grateful for the natural talent I have in the area, but I also know that there is SO much more to learn. I also want to start sharing some of my knowledge with you guys. There are so many amazing oils and essential oils on the market, that it gets a bit overwhelming. I have a collection of almost 100, but it has been a process to find the perfect ones. There are many companies that sell very poor quality or diluted oils. This lack of honesty had spurred me to return several bottles to suppliers. I have very high standard, and anything that goes into my products has to be the best possible quality.

Essential Oils are made by steam distillation, well good quality ones at least.The process is magical and yields essential oils and hydrosol. Hydrosol is water infused with some of the properties of the essential oils. Rose Water is a great example of a Hydrosol. Some Rose Water is actually just water that rose petals have been soaked in, but Hydrosols are much more beneficial to the skin.

Essential Oils are Hydrophobic, meaning they do not dissolve easily in water. This makes it so that the oil just floats on top of the water at the end of the distillation process. The oil is composed of naturally occurring chemical compounds. These range from things like Linalool (a naturally occurring terpene alcohol)  to Eugenaol (a main ingredient in OTC oral pain relief products that also happens to occur in Clove Oil, among others.) If Organic Chemistry isn't your bag, I don't blame you. It definitely took me some time to learn about the terms, and even still I continue my education. 

What is so interesting about all these compounds inside an essential oil, is what happens when two or more essential oils are mixed together. When you mix oils together the compounds blend and synergize, making all new compounds. This makes the blending just as important as the oils. Essential oils are also good for you and do good things for your body. Studies show that Rosemary improves memory, Peppermint improves energy, and Lavender relaxes. There are hundreds of studies showing that essential oils are beneficial for a host of issues. I love being able to infuse the magic of nature in my products. 

By using traditional perfumery methods, I take into consideration the unique aspects of each oil when blending. This also means that even the products for things like Psoriasis and Acne are blended in a way that they are composed and blend well together. 

Another unique aspect of natural perfumes, they require time to age and smell the best. Some blends are so popular that I am mixing a fresh batch every week. This means that the perfume needs some time to age before it smells its best. 

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