Tag Archives: perfume

VETIVER the oil of tranquility

vetiver roots

vetiver roots

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizaniodes) also called khus khus, is a perennial scented grass. It has a straight stem, long narrow leaves and grows in tufts, reaching a height of 2 meters. It has abundant white scented rootlets.Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but is cultivated in the Comoros Islands, Reunion, Java and Haiti. In India and Sri Lanka the essence is known as The oil of tranquility.

Vetiver handbag

Vetiver handbag

The fibrous grass is used for many different purposes; as protection against soil-erosion during the tropical rainy season, as pest and weed control in fields and to protect domestic animals from vermin. In 19th century Calcutta the rhizomes of Vetiver was manufactured into awnings, blinds and sunshades. During the hot season water was sprinkled over them which cooled the room while perfuming it. This made vetiver a very popular scent in Britain as it reminded the former British dwellers in India of the colonial times. At the time it was also used for perfuming linens and preventing moth. Ground rhizomes were used to manufacture sachet powders.

VetiverEssentialOilVetiver is widely used in perfumery. It has excellent fixative qualities (binding and stabilizing more volatile essences in a perfume blend). It imparts a woody, slightly earthy, green scent to the finished blend. The essential oil of vetiver is obtained by steam distillation of the washed, chopped and dried roots and rootlets. It is a viscous oil with an amber to brown, olive colour that deepens and turns reddish-brown with age, the scent is deep, smoky, woody and earthy with a touch of green freshness. The best quality oil comes from Reunion and is called Bourbon Vetiver.

USES.

  • Skin: Acne, oily skin, cuts and wounds
  • Muscle: Anti-inflammatory, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, sprains and stiffness.
  • Nervous system: Depression, nervous tension, sleeping problems, stress, PMT.

Personal: I love this beautiful oil. It is safe to use with children, elderly or the very ill. It is deeply relaxing without being sopoforic rather, it brings you back into yourself and gives a feeling of calm assurance. I used it together with Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) for a nap when I was pregnant and to this day it was the most glorious sleep-time I ever had 🙂 I use it for clients mainly when they seem to be “outside of themselves” and can’t find peace and balance. Vetiver is deeply grounding and nurturing in nature. It is often well-liked by children and helps them to calm down when upset. I think the deep earthy scent reminds them of playing outside in the park or forest and it brings them to a happy place.

TUBEROSE – queen of forbidden pleasures

Polianthes tuberosa

Polianthes tuberosa

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) is native to Central America. Its native name Omixochitl means bone flower and was widely used by the Aztecs 600 years ago for its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Maybe they also used it in their chocolate for its heady and sensual effects? Mmmm, chocolate for lovers…

When first brought to Europe it was cultivated in Grasse for use in perfumery, now it is mainly cultivated in Morocco, China, South Africa, France, Comoros Islands and India. The clusters of flowers grow on a 50 cm high stalk. This is a night-blooming flower which is harvested early in the morning when the buds are closed. The flower gives off its scent over a long time, when cut and put in a room they will scent the entire room. The best way to extract the scent is by enfleurage which is the most time-consuming way of extraction but gives the truest scent. Another, more commonly used method is solvent extraction which gives an absolute. It takes 1 200 kg of flower buds to get 200 grams of absolute, making tuberose one of the most expensive scents.350px-Polianthes_tuberosa

The scent of Tuberose is extremely complex and changes over time; a cut flower will change its scent from sweetly floral with slight campherous notes to earthy and musky notes as the flower matures and finally the scent turns to rot and bloody meat as the flower turns brown and dies.  This dramatic change, thankfully, does not happen with the absolute 🙂 The absolute has a strong heady, sweet floral scent with a musky undertone. It is deeply sensual, relaxing, narcotic and exciting. The scent is considered to enhance emotional strength and depth by centering the mind, bringing peace and serenity. Its exciting and sensual properties makes it an aphrodisiac.

"Innocence" by Arthur hacker (1858-1919)

“Innocence” by Arthur hacker (1858-1919)

During the renaissance, young unmarried women were forbidden to walk in the gardens of tuberose as it was believed that the scent of the flowers would arouse their passions and give them instant orgasms. Women put tuberose flowers under their skirts to attract and seduce men.

EXTRACTION METHODS FOR ESSENTIAL OILS, what is the difference?

There are different ways of extracting the essential oils, or scents, from plant matter and I will explain the methods in this post. Some oils can be extracted through different methods and give EO’s  different in scent: Rose, for example, is both distilled; Rose Otto, and solvent extracted; Rose absolute, giving very different scents. Jasmine can be both solvent extracted; Jasmine absolute, and extracted through enfleurage; Jasmine enfleurage, but it can’t be steam distilled.

SteamdistillationSTEAMDISTILLATION:  The most commonly used method.  Steam is passed through the plant matter, “popping” the essential oil cells in the plant, carrying the light-weight EO with it into a cooler where the steam returns to water and the essential oil separates from the water. This is then collected in a vessel where water and essential oil will  separate since EO’s don’t mix with water. Depending on the density of the EO, it will either sink to the bottom or stay on top of the water. The EO is then taken out and bottled while the water is either used again or bottled as a hydrolat. The steam will only carry molecules that are light-weight enough, leaving behind waxes and other heavier plant-matter. Other light-weight molecules that are water-soluble will be carried by the steam and stay in the resulting water, hydrolat, which also contains tiny amounts of EO.

SOLVENT EXTRACTION (absolute, concrete, resinoid):This method is used mainly for very fragile materials such as flowers (jasmine, tuberose), or to extract scents for perfumery, as absolutes tend to be more true in scent to the real thing. The plant matter is mixed with a solvent, usually hexane, in which essential oil, waxes and colour is extracted from the plant matter. The solvent is then distilled off, leaving a waxy, semi-solid substance called concréte which consists of essential oil and other plant substances such as natural waxes. The concréte is then mixed with alcohol and filtered from all substances but the aromatic material. After evaporating the alcohol, there is an absolute.

COLD EXPRESSION: This method is used for all citrus oils, where the essential oil is found in the rind of the fruit. There are two different methods: The sponge method: The rind and pith is removed from the fruit and soaked in warm water to become more pliable. It was then inverted to break the cells that hold the essential oil. The EO is collected by sponges which are then squeezed to release the liquid. Water and EO separates. Écuelle à picquer: The citrus is placed in a rotating device with needles that break the EO cells, the oil and water-based material run off through a funnel, the oil is separated from the water and bottled.

CO2 EXTRACTION: Hypercritical carbon dioxide gas extraction. CO2 is the gas we breath out and the gas that plants thrive on. Carbon dioxide becomes hypercritical when a certain amount of pressure is applied, which means that the gas is turned into a liquid. This liquid can be used as a safe solvent for extracting EO’s from plant matter. CO2 is inert and doesn’t interact with the essence that is being extracted, furthermore there is no thermal degradation of the essence, since heat is not being applied. To remove the CO2, all that is needed is to remove the pressure, turning the liquid into gas, which can be used again, leaving only the EO. To obtain EO’s, relatively low atmospheric pressure is needed, extracting only the volatile parts of the plant. When higher atmospheric pressure is used, “heavier” plant materials are extracted as well (waxes, resins), leaving a substance much like the absolutes but without any traces of solvents.

enfleurageENFLEURAGE: A very old, time-consuming method which is hardly ever used today. The only oil I have come across that is extracted this way is a lovely Jasmine. There is not much of it around and it is very costly. Cold enfleurage: Odorless fat that is solid at room-temperature  (usually deodorized tallow or lard) is smeared onto framed glass-plates, called “chassis“, upon which the flower petals are spread in a single layer. The scent is then absorbed by the fat. Once the petals are depleted, they are removed and new petals are spread onto the fat. This is repeated until the fat is saturated with scent, it is then called a pomade. The pomade is mixed with alcohol, drawing the scent into the alcohol. The fat and alcohol is then separated and when the alcohol evaporates it leaves the absolute. Hot enfleurage:Petals are stirred into deodorized fat and heated. Again, depleted petals are strained and new added until the saturation is complete. The rest of the process is the same as in cold enfleurage. The remaining fat is used for soap as it is still scented. If you have read or seen “The Perfumer”, this is the method he used to extract the scent of woman 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

New years Eve is coming up and party-time is upon us. Here are some “I-feel-great” party-blends for that razzle ‘n dazzle:

  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) + Grapefruit (Citrus paradisii) +  Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Rose (Rosa centifolia) + Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) + Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
  • Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) + Black pepper (Piper nigrum) + Ginger (Zingiber officinale) + Sandalwood (Santalum album)
  • Petit grain (Citrus aurantium) + Mandarine (Citrus reticulata) + Bergamott (Citrus bergamia)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrah) + Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) + Rose (Rosa centifolia)

For body-scent use about 5-10 drops of a blend in 15-20ml veg. oil or unscented lotion. For perfume: 20-30 drops in 10ml jojoba-oil.

The day after (all that bubbly…) your liver might need some extra support: Start the day with lemon-water; Squeeze 1/2 lemon into a glass of warm (not hot) water and drink first thing. Blend 1 drop of rose otto in 5ml (1 teaspoon) of veg. oil and rub over your liver a few times during the day. The liver is situated on the right side of your body, under the lower ribs. Rub some of the blend into your temples as well 🙂

Beware of using Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) together with alcohol; it can give some negative side-effects. In the old days clary sage (the herb) was often blended in wine to create a slightly hallucinogenic and euphoric effect…usually followed by a massive headache.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL AND ENJOY!!!


ISOLATES

In many products isolates are used for enhanced effect. Isolates are the main molecular constituents in an essential oil, such as menthol in peppermint-oil, linalool in lavender, methyl salicylate in wintergreen or limonene in lemon. This means that the main constituent in an essential oil has been isolated and removed to be used on its own. The problem is that some of these isolates can be harmful to the body as the synergy is lost.

Synergy is when different parts together make up a whole. In most plant-matter there is a natural balance between activating and calming substances. For example essential oil of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum): Its main molecular constituent is eugenol, up to 77%. It stimulates circulation and is anti-infectious. It is also a known skin-irritant in high doses. In proper dilution the whole essential oil is very useful for sore muscles, painful areas and as an anti-infectious agent. Clove oil is used in dentistry thanks to its anti-infectious and analgesic properties. The isolated eugenol is corrosive and toxic to the liver.

IN PRODUCTS:

  • Nutrition: Isolates are widely used as flavour-enhancers.
  • Perfumes: They are mostly made up of synthetic aromas which are cheaper and more stable. Sometimes isolates are used. (eugenol in Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent)
  • Sports-products: To warm and stimulate muscles before training and to cool and sooth aches and sprains. Most widely used isolates are menthol, camphene, methyl salicylate. It is not always clear if isolates or synthetics are used. Most of these isolates are strong skin-irritants in high doses – hence the warming / cooling effect on the skin. There have been a lot of discussion about the use of methyl salicylate, found in Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) up to 98%. (Article)
  • Skin-care: Isolates are used as perfuming-agents in many skin-care products. Sometimes, especially in natural or bioproducts, both essential oils and isolates are used. Isolates are much cheaper to use than essential oils. Here is a list of perfume-agents in a hand-cream: Citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool. All of these are noted to come from certified organic growers and from natural essential oils… (Check out earlier posts on natural & organic skin-care)

What is definite is that there is no way of knowing if the aromatic ingredients in a product are from natural sources (unless stated) or if they are produced synthetically…which means that there is no way to know if they will be harmful or not.

SENSUAL FRAGRANCES

Fragrances have through time been associated with sensuality, love and passion. Humanity has forever looked for the scents which are aphrodisiac in nature, turning people’s heads, making them breathless with desire. Essential oils are amongst these scents; since ancient times have they been used to induce passion and love. Scents as widely removed as clover and rose are on this list.

When researching aphrodisiac scents I noticed that the idea of aphrodisiacs has changed through the times, depending on society and whims. At one time the strongest aphrodisiacs were thought to be musk and civet – taken from the sex-glands of the muskrat and civet-cat. These are strong pheromones that supposedly stimulate the vomeronasal organ, or VNO. Today it is known that this part of the olfactory system is used to “pick up” pheromones between individuals of the same species.

Over time the idea of aphrodisiacs has gone through most scents we know today, from grasses and spices, through woods and roots to flowers. (Though some flowers were always thought to be aphrodisiacs.) I think it also had something to do with the abundance of human smells in the earlier days. In a letter from Napoleon to Josephine he writes: ” I will be home in 3 months, don’t wash”. This gives an idea of the pheromone power!

I personally believe that sensuality is a combination of many things; pheromones – we enjoy the other person’s smell, food, relaxation, scent and, of course for women, monthly cycle. Body smell is made up of pheromones; as much as we enjoy the scent of our loved ones, as badly do we experience the smell of someone we don’t like. One of the first signs of “falling out of love” is when we no longer enjoy the other person’s smell.

(“Researchers have already shown that ‘man sweat’ can elicit some unusual physiological responses in some women: an increased heart rate, a better mood, and sexual arousal.” Read the article here)

Perfumes are designed to make people attractive to each-other. Male perfumes are usually the scents that mostly attract women and vice verse. Today there is a whole industry creating perfumes with pheromones (synthetic) to enhance the attraction of the other sex.

Here is a list over the most commonly used aphrodisiac essential oils, there are of course many more. Sniff around and go with your feelings. The best-known aphrodisiacs are often warming and bring you into contact with emotion and body. To access the emotional areas of the brain, true essential oils are needed, not synthetic scents.

  • Jasmine (Jasminum officinale / J.grandiflora): Helps when there is tension or fear.
  • Rose (Rosa centifolia, R. damascena): Heady scent that helps open up the heart.
  • Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina): Euphoric, releases tension and anger.
  • Sandalwood (Santalum album): Deeply relaxing and balsamic.
  • Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum): Warming and opening.
  • Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): Exciting, releases tension
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Hot, fiery, stimulating.
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): Very close to female hormone, deeply seductive.
  • Clove (Syzygium aromatica): Liberating, seductive. (might work best in a blend, since many associate it with the dentist!)
  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum): Warming, fiery, movement.
  • Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): Sensual, relaxing.
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin): Playful, straightforward, fun. Used as a perfume by the hippie-generation.
  • Oud (Aquileria malaccensis): Use it straight up as a perfume, deeply sensual and sexy. Enhances floral notes.

Use them in the bath, as air-spray, massage-oil, perfume and/or room-scent. Spray them on your linen and on your hair. Use your imagination and have fun. Just remember dosages and possible sensitization. For best effect, use them sparsely – too much scent dulls the mind and can give head-aches instead. Be careful with floral oils if there is asthma or allergy.

OUD PERFUME

In Paris I found a shop the specializes in Oud-perfumes; blends, pure oils and wood-chips. On the shelves were the most luxurious  perfume-bottles I have ever seen, like glorious gem-stones glittering in the light. They cost a kings ransom. I love the oil of Oud (Agar-wood; Aquilaria malaccensis) and entered this beautiful realm for a sample. I asked the man for oil of Oud, and he made me try a couple of different perfume-blends. I said no thank you, I want the pure oil.

Finally he went to a cupboard in the corner and brought out a discreet crystal bottle and gave me a sample to smell. Finally! The man smiled brightly and said it was the first time anybody ever asked for the true oil of Oud in his shop. We discussed oils for a while and he poured me a small bottle (above) for a very humane price (humane as opposed to ridiculously expensive), seeing as we were both “in the business”.

I now own a small bottle of Oud which I use as perfume. 2 drops in the morning lasts forever. During the day and heat of my body, the scent changes from earthy musky to a deeply sensual floral scent. It is not obvious as a perfume usually is, more like it is a part of my personal body-scent. Delicious!