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My First Love: JASMINE

 


I'm mad for Jasmine.  Simply infatuated.  


I can't recall the first time I smelled the lush aroma of Jasmine.  I grew up in New England, a region not exactly famous for it's jasmine cultivation.  I believe my first contact with Jasmine would be as a teenager working the perfume counter at Macy's.  I went wild with smelling every perfume I could.  I sniffed every exotic gorgeously packaged mainstream perfume I had missed out on growing up in a small rural town.  The perfume counter at Macy's was glamour and glitz and sophistication.  I found myself drawn to a variety of scents and they all had one note in common: jasmine.


Now I realize what I was huffing was most likely synthetic jasmine.  It wasn't until I was a bit older that I actually smelled real jasmine absolute.  Jasmine absolute is so incredible, so creamy and full and plump; in my opinion it's aroma is unable to be wholly duplicated by aroma chemicals.  In Jean-Claude Ellena's book Perfume, the Alchemy of Scent he comprised a pared down list of essences he uses for perfumery he calls "The Collection."  The list is smaller than you might expect.  I found it interesting that along with Jasmal, Jasmolacton and Jasmonal H (synthetic jasmines) Ellena also lists Jasmin absolute and Jasmin Sambac absolute.  It's also interesting to note that Jasmine is the only aroma included in the collection in five different compilations.  From this we learn that Jasmine is IMPORTANT to perfumery and that real Jasmine absolute is UNDUPLICATABLE.



Fast forward a few years and I find myself working for Aveda surrounded by real Jasmine.  I was in jasmine heaven.  During this time I found that jasmine possesses universal appeal.  While many customers wrinkled their noses at the scent of patchouli and even rose, they smiled when sniffing the sweet aroma of jasmine.  I learned my lesson well.  Even now, when blending a custom scent for a more err  . . . challenging client I reach for the jasmine.  When all else fails, jasmine triumphs!


There is a jasmine for every preference.  Sweet jasmine, musky jasmine, dirty jasmine, filthy jasmine.  When teaching Introductory Natural Perfume classes, I'll often pass around a bottle of unlabeled jasmine grandiflorum for everyone to smell.  When I ask the class what essence they think they're sniffing many will guess correctly it's jasmine.  I'll then pass around bottles of jasmine sambac, jasmine flexile, jasmine auriculatum.  Silence.  Many haven't smelled these jasmines.  Many are surprised that jasmine can vary so wildly in aroma.  We talk of indole and jasmine.  We laugh.


- Jasmine is present in many of my perfumes. 
- Jamine's beauty beckons me.
- Jasmine blends well with all essences. 
- Jasmine is a team player. In perfumery jasmine is happy to take a supporting role or be a star.
- Jasmine is indispensable and important.

If you have any Jasmine absolute, go grab it and take a deep long sniff.  See what I mean?  It's just that good.


In celebration of the Natural Perfumers Guild sixth anniversary blog event, the following perfumers are participating by sharing stories of their first love.  From sandalwood to rose, be sure to check these articles out (see below.)


http://perfumebynature.blogspot.com 

http://anyasgarden.blogspot.com 

http://www.matriarch.biz/blog.html 

bellyflowers.blogspot.com 

http://www.roseenbos.com/category/blog 

www.lesparfumsisabelle.co.uk 

http://joannebassett.com/natural_perfumes 

www.oneseedcompany.com 

http://ellenoire.blogspot.ca 

http://africanaromatics.com/int/

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.

Tincture Madness

peaches and apricots in tincture

Peach and Apricot Tincture

 

My obsession has returned.  Sometimes, it's pushed aside for other important daily tasks, but it never dissipates.  I LOVE making tinctures for perfume!  When teaching perfume courses, my students favorite part of the class is when we create a tincture.   I've decided this is due to my overwhelming passion and tinctures benefits to perfumery I outline to the students.  In addition, students feedback indicates they find making tinctures manageable and fun.  Tinctures are easy to make, utilize imagination (can I tincture seaweed, and if so what will it smell like?) and easy to understand whereas blending accords and remembering which botanicals are base notes are decidedly less "fun" to many Introductory students.


The benefits to using tinctures as the alcohol base for botanical perfumes are numerous.  Notice I stated "as the alcohol base." I recommend using tinctures as the perfumers alcohol for blending a perfume.  I stress to the students that we are not creating a tincture to replace an essential oil or absolute (although one can tincture vanilla beans very successfully and use them as a replacement for vanilla absolute) we are more creating a subtle back note for the perfume by using the tinctured alcohol to blend.


The benefits to using tinctures in perfumes are as follows:


1. ORIGINALITY By using a tincture in your perfume you can put a highly original spin on your scent.  Will anyone else be blending with your homemade squash blossom tincture?  Doubtful.  That unplaceable irresistible note you detect?  Why it's my own New England blackberry leaf tincture!


2. FIXATION Many tinctures are created from botanical matter containing sugars and starches.  These ingredients actually help a natural perfume last longer as they help trap scent molecules to the skin and slow evaporation.  In addition, by using a tinctured alcohol to blend perfume we help extend a note throughout the drydown of the perfume.  For example, it is notoriously hard to create a long lasting natural citrus perfume as citrus oils are top notes and evaporate quickly.  If formulating a perfume using an orange tincture we are able to pull the citrus note through the length of the perfume and we can help extend the orange note through the mid and even base notes of the perfume as it dries down.  I find this incredibly exciting.


3. PALETTE EXTENSION While we may not be able to source a natural blackberry essence, we can create one by tincturing freeze dried blackberries.  The ability to create new aromas allows us to expand our perfumers palette.  

 

Lilac Tincture

Lilac Tincture


Creating a tincture is easy, as long as you follow a few simple rules:  

*The material you tincture must be dry.  Water is the enemy of a good tincture.  

*The material you tincture must be fragrant.  If it doesn't have an aroma before you tincture, it won't after.

*Some botanical material needs to be removed and replaced repeatedly to create a aromatic tincture.  This is especially true of flowers.  

*Be prepared that your tincture may take months to create.

*Using a clean dry glass jar with a tight fitting lid is a must.

*High proof alcohol (190-200 proof) necessary for perfumery tincture use.

Another interesting aspect of using tinctured perfumers alcohol to blend with is the idiosyncratic nature of the aroma.  I often find using a strawberry tincture when blending a dark, woody masculine scent offers an interesting and pleasing result.  Who would think that strawberry would blend so well with oud, patchouli, amber and spruce?  The possibilities are endless as is the variation on scent.  When done correctly, tinctured base alcohol adds depth, richness and intrigue.  While I don't use tinctures in all my perfumes, I find them indispensable in creating effect.  I have often made two versions of a perfume.  One made with tinctured alcohol, the other with plain alcohol. The formulation of the perfume will be exactly the same.  90% of the time, the customer will choose the version I've created using a tincture.  There is something to be said for its subtle magic.  While your nose may not be able to recognize the subtle strawberry note generated by using strawberry tinctured alcohol, there's a difference.  A delicate, delicious difference.