Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Natural&Botanical Perfumery 101 ~ Where to Start



Well, at the beginning, of course.

Get thee swiftly to thy apothecary ~ in this case, that would be American Science Surplus, and buy up as many of those little 5 ml dropper bottles as you can fit in the shopping cart (ok, 50 or 75 or 100 are more than enough to get started).

Starting out blending in an oil medium is probably the best way to go. You'll avoid all the legalities of purchasing pure grape or grain alcohol, or schlepping with vodka or everclear. Mountain Rose Herbs has a lovely organic jojoba that's just screaming to be used in your first (middle and last) perfume-making endeavor.

Aromatics ~ well, I'll just give you my preference, White Lotus Aromatics. Only Washington state residents are required to provide proof of a resale license. And the minimum order is $100. Before you run screaming for the door, you have to know that $100 really isn't going to get you much ~ unless you take advantage of the 10 sample per order policy at WLA (this is where you pick up the most expensive and rare aromatics), and flesh out the rest of your minimum with not-so-expensive ingredients ~ like WLA's gorgeous French lavandin absolute at $4.02 per 1/4 oz. Be sure to add some top note aromatics to your order ~ it seems people who are just starting out overlook them, opting to get the more lush and longer-lasting middle and base note aromatics (see patchouli absolute, fir balsam absolute, jasmine sambac/grandiflorum/auriculatum absolutes, rose otto, etc.) WLA offers a great little group of citrus essences, citrus oils distilled from the juice rather than the peel ~ they are gorgeous and fresh-smelling and perfect to start out with.

Try to get three or four top note essences, three or four middle note essences (typically florals) and three or four base note essences (woods, resins, roots), and don't forget to take advantage of the samples for those more costly essences.

Then get yourself a good perfume primer, one with a kick-ass materials' safety chapter.

To be continued . . .

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