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Robertet Rose: Elements Showcase Workshop

When I was approached by Robertet to speak at the recent Elements Showcase in New York on utilizing rose in perfumery, I was thrilled.  We natural perfumers love to talk about beautiful essences; how to source them, how to use them, how their unique scent profile inspires.  I am particularly drawn to new exotic ingredients that expand our natural perfumery palette. Robertet's new rose petal distillation does all of the above and I welcomed the chance to wax poetic on it's virtues.

Robertet held two workshops titled "Celebrating 160 Years of Roses."  The first day the panel included Mandy Aftel from Aftelier and Olivia Jan, a Senior Perfumer from Robertet.  I attended the workshop and was impressed by the audience participation.  Samples of Rose Absolute, Rose Essential Oil and the new Rose Petal Essential Oil were passed on blotters to audience members.  Afterwards blotters of each of the natural perfumes created with the rose petal distillation were sampled.

One of the highlights of the first day workshop was listening to the perfumers describe their creation process and how they utilize rose in their fragrances.  After the workshop I met Mandy Aftel and her husband Foster.  I found them funny and down to earth and I enjoyed speaking with them.  My husband Dan snapped a picture of us.  You can tell Mandy and I were laughing in the photo.  Did I mention I found her charming and down to earth?

Arnaud Adrian and Jennifer Powderly from Robertet led the workshops both days, and their presentation outlined the commitment Robertet has to ecological farming of the Turkish damask rose.  Despite the rose harvest lasting just a few weeks from May to June, Robertet employs 60 families year round in Turkey to tend the farmlands.  All the water used for distillation is reused and the petals are composted post distillation.

The actual description of Robertet's Rose Petal Essential Oil is as follows: The Rose Petal Essential Oil utilizes all the natural extraction methods developed by Robertet are used in this natural extract in order to capture the genuine scent of the flower itself: hydrodistillation, molecular distillation, fractionation... Odour: Cosmetic, modern, quintessence of the Rosa Damascena flower at a lower price than the essential oil. Floral, spicy, peony odor.



The essential oil is clear colored, powerful and full bodied.  I was impressed with it's clean, precise rose aroma and sheer strength.  When using the rose petal essence I was able to use a much smaller quantity to obtain the crystalline rose note I was seeking.  The distillation of the rose petal oil was described in detail which was complex.  The result is a rose that smells quite different (and quite beautiful) than any other rose essential oil I've experienced.  Arnaud mentioned that the price of rose absolute and essential oil will increase 25% this year.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Sigh.  One of the selling points of the rose petal oil was it's price point--placed just between rose absolute and rose otto.

The second workshop included myself, Anne McClain from MCMC Fragrances and Jerome Epinette, a Robertet Senior Perfumer.  Being the only natural perfumer on the panel made me all the more determined to convey my passion for naturals to the audience.  I spoke on the power of natural essences, their unduplicated beauty, their primal ability to transport the wearer.  I discussed my Rose Boheme perfume, and the challenges of I encountered with getting the rose to pop in a base note heavy composition.  I described the rose petal essential oil as possessing the qualities I associate with both Turkish and Bulgarian rose.  I described a childhood memory of hiding in a thicket of wild rose bushes next to our home.  How I found a cool dark spot underneath the tangle of thorns and roses.  I would go to this spot when I wanted to be alone, and smell the dark fertile earth and rustle the boughs of miniature roses above my head as I lay on the ground.  The pale petals would fall on my face and I would pretend it was "snowing" in June.  This memory is fond and the inspiration for my perfume Rose Bohème.


All in all, it was an opportunity to introduce the audience to the power and beauty of natural perfumes and the incredible natural raw materials available to the perfumer.  While many in attendance may have never smelled a natural perfume, they have now!  I enjoyed getting to meet the other perfumers, and hearing how each perfumer composes his or her creation.  It was interesting to note that many of the perfumers on the panel (mainstream, niche and natural) were inspired by particularly evocative materials.  

If you would like to receive a sample of the new Rose Petal Essential Oil I worked with, please leave a comment or question.  I'll choose two winners.  Trust me, it's gorgeous!

Citrus Showdown

By Charna from Providence Perfume Co., 100% natural perfume

 I love the scent of citrus.  Bring on the blood orange, the yuzu the red mandarin!  Recently I ordered a slew of citrus oils to restock my supply.  Ordering citrus oils in smaller quantities is important as citrus essential oils can loose their fresh aroma quickly.  Cold pressed citrus oils have the most incredible aroma (important for perfumery use) but also the shortest shelf life due to the high proportion of terpenes which promote oxidation.  Best to purchase these citrus oils in small quantities and replace more frequently.  Another tip to keep citrus oils vibrant?  Store in the refrigerator to help preserve freshness.


As a citrus loving perfumer, one conundrum I face is the photosensitizing nature of cold pressed citrus oils.  Use too much cold pressed lime essential oil in a perfume and you may find the area where you spritzed darkened and irritated after sun exposure.  Bergaptene free bergamot oil is essential to any perfumers palette as the photosensitizing bergaptene has been removed.  Steam distilled citrus oils do not photosensitize, but I find the aroma dull.  Cold pressed citrus oils sing, whereas steam distilled citrus oils hum . . . quietly . . . off-key.  You get the idea.  Always utilize caution when blending with cold pressed citrus oils.  Andrea Butje of The Aromahead Institute recently published an informative article on citrus oils that don't photosensitize such as green mandarin and sweet orange. Great info!  To read her blog post in it's entirety, click here: http://www.aromahead.com/blog/2010/03/22/citrus-essential-oils-avoiding-phototoxicity/

I recently ordered yuzu, blood orange, bitter orange, green bitter orange, bergamot and 10-fold orange essential oils.  I've never experienced any of the folded citrus oils.  I was curious about the usage of folded oils in candles and possibly perfume application.  Folded citrus oils are concentrated and lower in d-Limonene terpenes. The higher the number of the folded oil, the more times it's been folded, or concentrated. I must admit I was disappointed by the 10x orange essential oil.  Despite it's strength, it lacked the fresh quality cold pressed essential oils possess.  Smelled from the bottle the 10 fold orange oil smells strongly of the bitter white pith of the orange rind.  When diluted and applied to the skin, the bitter pithy aroma eventually dissipates leaving a long lasting orange aroma.  Further experimentation is needed to discern if folded citrus oils will suit my perfume palette.  



While I've been a fan of Liberty Natural Products cold pressed Dominican Bitter Orange oil, my new bottle arrived smelling dull.  A disappointment.  Happily I ordered Bitter Green Orange from Eden Botanicals which was fresh and green and much more to my liking.  Similar in aroma to a sharp yuzu it adds a crisp clean top note aroma I adore.

With the low cost of citrus oils, sampling from a variety of suppliers is always preferential as quality varies wildly.  Have a citrus gem or dud to share?  Feel free to leave a comment.

If you have any questions about a natural fragrance or a natural perfume please contact Charna at 401.256.8272.