Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Scent your home with flowers - a post for the green fingered.



£48. That’s how much it costs to scent your home with Diptyque’s beautiful Rosa Mundi candle. If it’s the middle of winter, or you live in a flat and have money to burn (literally) I understand the desire to buy this object of loveliness.

However, £48 buys a hell of a lot of real flowers. Not the rubbish ones that don’t smell of anything from the florist, I’m talking about growing your own.

Last May I moved from my sky high urban flat to an old Victorian terraced cottage. It’s tiny and a little bit knackered, but there is a garden. As the proud owner of green fingers I couldn’t wait to plan my much missed outdoor space. I have only a miniscule front garden, South facing and elevated from the lane by rickety stone steps.  Its patio area is just big enough for a few planters and a deck chair from which I can tipple gin in the summer. At the rear of the house is a yard filled by an old outdoor toilet shed. I plan to sow a ‘cut flower’ patch in grow bags upon its roof when the sun rises high enough to battle for daylight dominance with the neighbouring woods.

The garden was a mess, an overgrown patch of shrubs that had never seen a blade and waist high grass on a mission to self-seed dandelion clocks and sadistic thistles. My determined Dad spent several hours ‘strimming’ the grass, pausing every few minutes to rethread the machine as its exhausted cord broke repeatedly. Meanwhile I destroyed my back digging up a plethora of eye pokingly sharp cordyline plants. I have a fear of spikes…

Hardcore strimming event

Whilst it was too late in the season to grow many seeds, I couldn’t resist giving life to some sweet peas. I spent 99p on a packet of ‘Spencer Mixed’ variety which by August grew into a 5 foot high pot of scented glory. For the next couple of months my house was filled with their intoxicating fragrance and I slept soundly lulled by bedside vases of this frilly wonder.

My Mum divided her old fashioned carnation plants and gave me clumps to plant up by the patio. If you’ve never smelt a garden grown carnation you will be astounded by its peppery floral fragrance. Imagine a Caron boutique in the 1950s and that’s about it. They smell exactly like Bellodgia. A single bloom can fill a room with a strident Oeillet olé such is its bold exuberance!

Carnation and Sweat Pea Spencer Mixed spicing up the dining table

The neglected white Rosa Alba that lived here had bolted to a giant straggle. Although a few Dior-esque petals remained it needed lopping almost to the ground to encourage healthy new growth next year. Meanwhile I headed to the garden centre and chose a David Austin ‘Generous Gardener’ climbing rose to satisfy my craving. Chosen for its scent, this pink beauty smells like the finest Rose Damascena absolute with a teeny hint of sugared almond. Sadly I knocked its heavily budded head off in a clumsy car exit but it rapidly grew back.

My Generous Gardener in full bloom

My plans for 2017

It will be a summer of vivid scented annual flowers. My ‘Spencer Mixed’ sweet peas are growing vigorously. In October I transformed a worn out G-Plan side table into a miniature bubble wrapped greenhouse to see if it really is possible to ‘overwinter’ annual seedlings in the cold damp Pennine winter. It is. In May I will plant a second variety ‘Sweet Pea Promise’ – a posh one from Thompson and Morgan that promises to be hugely whiffy.


G-Plan greenhouse


Sweat Pea Promise from the Thompson and Morgan website

Early flowering scent will come from Stocks ‘Appleblossom’. Stocks have a heady narcotic whiff, which with just a few stems is intoxicating. More than a few is a whopping migraine.

                                          Stocks Appleblossom from the Thompson and Morgan website

My perennial white Phlox plants will hopefully reawaken and battle the slugs to bring some elegance once again. Their scent is a marvelous combination of the skanky indole that we devour in our white floral fragrances and a more delicate and fresh green nuance that brings brightness and vivacity and makes the plant smell ‘youthful’.

Phlox

Some shrubs inherited from the previous owners have proved to be seasonally boring. They will be dug up and replaced by lavender, the foliage of which will make an excellent 'leafy bit' in my indoor arrangements. 

Last year I waged war on slugs. I had millions of the little thugs. With Joseph and his neighbouring cat friends around, the use of toxins was not a possibility. This year I’m conducting an experiment. I am collecting my own hair in order to create hairy rings around the base of tender seedlings. I never brush it so a hair wash yields lots of useful strands! Apparently slugs hate the dry texture of hair and wool and won’t cross it. The witchy side of me loves the idea of having a part of myself lurking sentinel like in the garden. My grandmother would have approved of this frugal and somewhat pagan approach.

Joseph strolls his territory wall

I’ll post an update in early summer and let you know which plants yield the greatest fragrance. I would dearly love to hear from any of my readers who tend a fragrant garden. Your recommendations would be gratefully received in the comments box.

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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Estee Lauder - Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, gateway to a new me

January is a bleak month for those of us residing in Northern Europe. It’s chilly, the days are diminutive, and we crave the onset of the light and energy delivered by Spring. Following the excited delights of the pre-Christmas credit card binge that is ‘Black Friday and Cyber Monday’, January brings us ‘Blue Monday’, rumoured to be the most depressing day of the year.

January in the North, a bleak etching I created in 2009

It’s not all blue though. January often gives us an opportunity to make personal changes. We are more likely to ditch an overly stressful job, rethink our personal goals or make good on our seasonal gluttony and get healthy. Although I didn’t make a list of New Year resolutions (I’d inevitably break them), I definitely feel a positive force for change.

With this in mind, I’m shedding some flab.

I’m not obese, just a bit podgy. An auf wiedersehen to half a stone would set me free to wear my favourite ‘brilliant arse’ jeans that lie forlornly at the bottom of my thin clothes drawer. It wasn’t really Christmas that piled on the pounds, more the proximity of a work canteen that sells fabulous sausage rolls and the forgiving nature of winter clothing. It just crept on.

My diet is not strict, I’m simply cutting down on the usual adversaries; booze, sugar, cheese and the occasional foray into pies. Vaguely based on Slimming World but without the culinary dreadfulness that is 1 calorie cooking spray and Quark.

I took a jaunt to the January sales and purposefully left tight fitting clothes well alone, I’d already dropped a couple of pounds and was excited at the prospect of delving into my thin clothes drawer in the near future, no point buying new ones. However, in the sale I found an ideal motivator. Nestling amongst the Estee Lauder counter’s sale shelf was a discounted purse spray of Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. I bought it, took it home, and promptly decorated the package with a chastising post-it note. I will not unwrap and spray the perfume until I get half way through the diet. It will be freed from it’s bondage when the scales display 10 stone 6. As I write this, I’m 1 pound away. Tomorrow might be the day.

Motivation

Ironically, Tuberose Gardenia is a fulsome fatty scent, the fragrance equivalent of one of those delicious custard pastries that accompany your Espresso in a Parisian café. A Gardenia petal is firm and waxy to the touch, clustered tightly in a heavy globe, there’s no frailness here. It’s a voluptuous flower. Tuberose is often likened to the scent of bacon fat, as rancid and corpulent as it is beautiful.  In Tuberose Gardenia, the Lauder labs have synthesised the concept of gargantuan white flower decadence. If it were a woman, she would not be thin.

The Gardenia flower

10 stone 6 will mark the occasion of the first ‘well done you’ spray. From that point it will be consigned to the fabulous arse/thin clothes drawer. It won’t be properly allowed out until those jeans fit. By this I mean that I can actually sit down in them without the zip bursting or instigating the onset of bleeding from my kidneys.


By then it will be spring. And I’ll burst into fragrant flower as the narcissus in my garden open their faces to greet the sun.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Keiko Mecheri - Bois de Santal, the sogginess saviour






As a concept, ‘dry’ is currently highly desirable to me.

Usually, the word dry implies an absence, an emptiness, perhaps a lackluster landscape. But right now, dry means the opposite of damp. And for that reason, it’s a beautiful word.

My new (ancient) cottage is distinctly soggy. Nestling amongst woods at the bottom of a steep scar, it seems to suck the moisture from the land. The cellar is a spooksome little hole, with steps that descend to a mouldy stone room. 5 minutes in the cellar and my hair has absorbed the moisture and achieved the wild manifestation of life before styling products. Not that I’m really complaining. I’ve swopped my trendy city flat for a historic Victorian home and the new walls (despite their often moist tendencies) feel to be enveloping me in cosiness. I sleep well here. And so does Joseph after his errant nocturnal adventures with the neighbourhood cats.

Recently, a friend posted me a decant of a well timed scent, Keiko Mecheri’s Bois de Santal. After a bleak and rain sodden drive over Holme Moor, I made myself a cup of tea and sat down to test the contents of the little package. It soaked up my waterlogged mood.
Bois de Santal is the fragrant equivalent of those little silica bags that you get inside packaging, it’s dryer than an own brand Cream Cracker. Sandalwood rich scents always radiate warmth but somehow Bois de Santal manages to bypass warmth to the point of becoming parched. 

An anorak walk over over Holme Moor

I’ve smelt the perfumer’s synthetic creation of ‘hot sand’ several times, perhaps my favourite interpretation being in Estee Lauder’s summertime rerelease – Bronze Goddess. However, Mecheri’s perfumer has out-beached even Bronze Goddess by adding a bossily dominant ambergris note to transport the salt to this sun bleached olfactory location.

As I sniff my sandalwood infused arm I don’t really smell ‘perfume’. I smell youthful summer skin. As a child I would holiday in North Wales. Usually in a shabby rented caravan. Being a kid, I’d race into the sea, ignorant to the icy temperature and dustbin sized jellyfish that would wash up on the shoreline. I’d spend hours hunting rock pools for soon to be captive crabs and random beach detritus. Back at the caravan, baths were out of the question. I imagine that I probably got away with not washing at all. I remember smelling my arms and marvelling at the way they retained the scent of the sea, I even licked them to taste the salt.

Llanbedrog Beach - site of my salty arms


I imagine that the brief for Bois de Santal was to create an exotic oriental, to conjure a sun scorched picture of India and the 1960s hippie trail. That it certainly does. But for me, the fragrance creates a significantly more valuable olfactory image – autumnal armour. Although Bois De Santal won’t win any awards for innovation, it will certainly keep me dry as the humidity begins to rot the annual leaf suicides.  

Joseph enjoys lurking on my Victorian wall

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The personality of scent, essence or armour?

Have you ever considered how your choice of fragrance reflects your personality?

Marketing folk certainly do. There’s a reason why the sultry young Jerry Hall was once chosen to front YSL’s most exotic and decadent scent – Opium. Hall was the epitome of edgy glamour, spandex clad lover of Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry - uber-groupie. She led the life that we could picture only in the most vivid corners of our imagination, far away from the reality of trudging down a grimy high street to our local branch of Boots to pick up a relatively cheap bottle of (albeit wonderful) mass market scent.

From Bryan Ferry to Murdoch, oh Jerry!

This raises a question. Do we choose our scents to complement who we are or who we aspire to be?

I recently revisited one of my favourite scents, Antonia by Pure Distance. Reviewed back in 2015, my first experience of Antonia moved me. It felt like as if it had been created just for me. I described it thus:

Antonia is a floral of cool intentions. She is an ivy draped ethereal character who conjures a rain sodden landscape of picturesque melancholy. Sap fuelled green florals are my favourite genre, capable of summoning the outdoors in, they evoke in me an otherworldly serenity that belongs far away from my urban life. Opening with the vivid green bite of galbanum, Antonia is uplifting and spiritual depicting spring’s abundant fertility in full force.”

Cool atmospheres and outdoorsy notes dominate many of my favourite scents. I feel both serenity and invigoration in earth goddess whiffs. The forest ritual lure of Ormonde Jayne’s Woman, the mountain stream chill of Clinique’s Wrappings and the mossy earthiness of Guerlain’s notorious Mitsouko, they all echo the experience of existing deep in the countryside.
Holman Hunt captures the rural Idyll 

Nowadays I’m a city dweller, living on the edge of Manchester’s central district, I neither see nor smell trees. The view from my flat features fashionable living in converted Victorian mills, immaculately dressed young urbanites heading off to long hours in offices and a brashly plastic looking tram stop. However, my childhood was one of wellies, cowpats and nature books. I led the country life and I can probably identify most things you’d find in a hedgerow. It’s likely that my passion for outdoorsy scents is filling a gap. Essentially, Antonia and her similarly green friends are taking me home. I’m aspiring to be me. 

Joseph models the view from my window

However, sometimes I need ‘not to be me’. And in those instances, I dress myself up in an alter ego. I am not, not will ever manage to be, a cool and calculating type. I am the polar opposite of a Hitchcock Blonde. There are times in your life when you could benefit from having a personality different to your own.  And right now, I need to be someone else.

I’m currently in the middle of a house purchase. The complexities of this transaction have been stressful. I’m far too passionate and direct to handle the process with the sort of cool and detached businesslike approach required to out-swim the shark-infested system.

One particularly bitey shark is the estate agent. A few weeks ago I had to visit her office to provide mortgage documents. After some testing encounters on the phone, I’d envisioned her as heavily made up with cartoon eyebrows and an air of someone who could throw a good punch in a pub. In reality, I’d got the image spot on. In preparation for our meeting I selected tailored black clothes, properly blow dried hair and ‘business bitch’ perfume. I was masquerading as someone else, someone capable of making a huge financial investment with success. Not, my techni-colour print clad, wonky haired and kindly self. My scent of choice was the Lanvin classic – Arpege. Nothing implies control more than a stern floral aldehyde.


It didn’t work. I’m still haggling my way through the complications of buying a very old house. But at least I felt protected by my formidable scented armour for one day.  If I ever get there, I will be returning to the wilds of the Yorkshire Moors. Perhaps I shall rename myself Antonia?

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Joseph, the beginning of a furry scented love affair



 Joseph peeps from the dizzying elevation of the kitchen cupboard

You may have noticed the absence of a Christmas post at Odiferess in 2015. Not even a measly seasonal greeting. I apologise profusely. You see, just before Christmas, my ordinarily calm existence was delightfully disrupted by the arrival of a new and wonderful friend – Joseph Cat. Perfume was far from my thoughts.



Joseph was an inmate at Manchester’s Millstream Animal Shelter, a charity that re-homes pets and provides life long care for the more feral creatures that are unlikely to find a loving human.

Joseph however is dead easy to love. In similarity to the other males I have adored, he's a curious type, a keen adventurer and a tad complicated. He doesn’t particularly like me hanging out with other men, despite those that he’s met so far being either related to me or gay. For the moment, we snooze together in a middle-aged stereotype of cat besotted woman, (plucked) Italian wool blankets and spoilt cat.

The centre of my bed, stolen

My perfume habits have been restricted as I try and get him used to ‘my smell’. At night, I have worn nothing, not even my beloved blends of essential oil remedies that I used to slather over my hands in bed. In the daytime I wear my most cat-like scent. A miniature bottle of Serge Lutens Clair de Musc which has always reminded me the scent of feline fur.  He seems to like it.

Joseph unsurprisingly smells like a cat. A subtle whiff that is barely discernible, given his excellent licking skills and cleanliness bordering on the neurotic. He frequently sleeps next to my face. I gave up trying to keep my pillows cat free about 3 nights in when the joy of being close to this purring pile of affection outweighed the hassle of having to launder my bed linen more frequently. On these wondrous slumbers, I bury my nose into his belly and inhale his smell. The sensation is one of warmth, closest in my memory to the smell of extreme heat on sand and dry stone experienced in the deserts of Oman. A very slight sourness is detectable, not unpleasant, but similar to a trace of fresh human sweat at the point before it stales. Whatever pheromones are contained within Joseph’s fur have an overwhelming effect on me. I’m fiercely in love and feel an urge to protect and nurture him, despite the fact that, as a cat, he won’t love me back with the same unconditional adoration!

Friends in perfume land played a role in influencing me to adopt a pet. Their blogs and Facebook feeds bombarded me with images of beloved companions. Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume recently adopted the girliest pretty kitten on the internet, Truffle Bonkers


Truffle perfects the calendar kitten pose

Liz of Papillon Artisan Perfumes added to her gargantuan menagerie with the arrival of stud muffin Bengal ‘Baby Boy’ who rapidly impregnated Mimi with a litter of exotically spotted kittens (lucky Mimi).  Jicky, her elder feline sister must surely be feeling envious.

Baby Boy (there are more seductive photos of this handsome boy but I adore his squeezable nose in this shot).


It takes a lot of style to live up to a Guerlain inspired name, Jicky has oodles of it.

Undina’s beautiful ginger Rusty has long graced her perfume photos with a whimsical pose adding a uniquely personal touch to her blog. Cats are not known for looking 'kind' but somehow Rusty looks like a compassionate cat. I adore him. Whilst Gaspard, an elegant and comically spooksome black cat not unlike my own Joseph, resides with the equally elegant Alex, AKA The Silver Fox. Gaspard is king of the wild eyed pounce pose.

Undina's Rusty, perfume PR pussy

Gaspard, peek-a-boo 

Perhaps the most photogenic pets belong to my first and greatest perfume buddy, Saskia. Lubbe and Lano are her much photographed Weimaraners who reside with her in the Netherlands. Some years ago she likened one of them to handsome indie perfumer Kilian Hennessey, I think the likeness is detectable in the cheekbones and lithe figure. 


How to look oddly human, Weimaraner style

Perhaps the most famous pet in perfume land, is the black cat featured in the notorious 1960s adverts for My Sin by Lanvin. They chose to feature a moggy rather than a long limbed Oriental or a pampered Persian, a feline symbol of luxury. Maybe it's because this tough looking black cat represents the dangerous life of the street cat, hinting at the perfume's ability to render it's wearer feral and vicarious?



Thank you to my perfume friends for allowing me to use their fantastically characterful photographs.

If you know anyone in the North of England hoping to adopt a pet, please do consider a visit to Millstream Animal Shelter. They are reliant on donations and the hard work of volunteers to provide a safe space for some very vulnerable animals. 

Coming up at Odiferess this year, I have a stash of posts in planning for your consumption. The first of which will explore the concept of 'wearability' and discuss two scents that are impossible not to love, regardless of your tastes. I look forward my fourth year of getting to know my readers all around the world and I wish you a wonderful 2016 full of love and perfume.

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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Christmas themes from The Library of Fragrance: Mistletoe, Frankincense and Christmas in New York






 

How’s your Christmas shopping going?

Here in Manchester, the city is awash with it’s usual gaggle of frantic shoppers, many of whom have taken advantage of big discounts in department stores. I myself was almost seduced by the reduced as Selfridges dropped it’s prices on Amouage and Robert Piguet. A whopping great car insurance bill enabled me to be sensibly frugal though. This Christmas I shall be driving along (safely insured) in my existing scent wardrobe, with the last few drops of the seasonally pine scented Fille en Aiguilles reserved for the big day.

Frugality has inspired this post.

At £15 a bottle, The Library of Fragrance (Demeter in the USA), sell a set of Christmas themed eau de colognes that would make for a quirkily stuffed stocking.  Feature here are Mistletoe, Frankincense and Christmas in New York.



The Library of Fragrance's scents are minimal. In a similar style to Jo Malone or Shay and Blue, they are (predominantly) single note scents designed for layering. They don’t have a pyramid of notes, they simply are what they say on the bottle.

Frankincense however, doesn’t smell exactly like frankincense, which annoyingly disproves my last point! Natural frankincense (Boswellia Carterii) is a sharp and penetrating whiff reminiscent of church incense. It’s oddly smokey and sparkly concurrently, a most peculiar sensation, which tends to initiate a gargantuan headache if I burn the essential oil in my apartment. 

Frankincense resin

In The Library of Fragrance’s Frankincense, the aggressive nature of the natural essence has been toned down with evidence of it’s namesake being most apparent in the vibrant first squirt of the opening. Instead, a sensation of amber oozes throughout, a soft vanillary custard with just a hint of smokey labdanum to darken the desert. This is essentially a ‘gourmand frankincense’, ideal for those who desire an exotic oriental with an indie vibe. It’s rather lovely.

Christmas in New York replicates the gourmand theme. It smells of cinnamon, vanilla and apples. I accidently wiped some onto my top lip a few seconds ago, an action I deeply regret as I do not like the bluergh-esque whiff of cinnamon, vanilla and apples. Those of you who adore densely sweet and lush gourmands will swoon at this scent. I’m off to the bathroom to try and get it off with Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion (otherwise known as scent destroyer).

Distinctly ‘more me’ is Mistletoe, which is basically just a bottle of green vegetal sap. At this time of year, I crave vegetal green sap. Regular readers will be aware of my seasonal slump and know that my morale sinks fathoms when darkness falls so early in the afternoon. I’m not a winter person, I’m a spring baby who needs to be shone upon in order to sustain functional mental health. Mistletoe hints at regeneration, sticky new buds and the joy of a late winter sun warming your face as you take your first long country walk of the new year.  It’s immensely joyful. An antedote to darkness. It’s no wonder that it’s reputed to be lucky to kiss underneath this prettily parasitic plant (and woeful if you refuse).

A Victorian lurker

Mistletoe’s ‘green’ scent shares similarities with lily of the valley. Indeed the scent is slightly reminiscent of the drydown of Caron’s historic 1st of May celebratory fragrance – Muguet de Bonheur, particularly in it’s astringent and anisic qualities. Add to this a general watery green quality with notions of cucumber, broken plant stems or savory celery and you have an idea of this eau de cologne’s effect.

Further info on the scents can be found at: http://thelibraryoffragrance.com.

You might also like to take a peep at a previous seasonal post on scents that smell like Christmas trees.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Aromatherapy recipes to banish the gothic horrors of Autumn




 Ivon Hitchen, 'Autumn', 1941


I almost got there, Autumn half term that is. Every year I never quite fulfill eight weeks of teaching without falling quarry to some vile change of season/oozing child bug. Just 3 days before I break up for half term and I’m sick with a throat the colour of an overripe Persian pomegranate and a doddering demeanor. I blame Autumn, after all it is the season of vegetal death and loss of light. Unless you live in Technicolor New England, it’s rubbish.

With this in mind, I’m going to share my favourite aromatherapy recipes for the season. Some feel medicinal and others deliciously decadent.  All recipes are for 20 ml, a small portion for sampling.

Autumn mist defying anti-frizz hair oil:

10 mls Golden Cold Pressed Jojoba carrier oil
10 mls Argan carrier oil
10 drops of essential oils of your choice. I like a fresh barbershop vibe in a hair oil so I use:
5 drops High Altitude Lavender + 5 drops Neroli

Uses – You can massage a generous amount into your hair and scalp half an hour before washing as a deep conditioning treatment. This essential oil combination has excellent antibacterial and soothing qualities for an irritated scalp. After blow drying, apply a small amount as a serum to the mid lengths and ends to add shine and anti-humidity protection. Additionally, you can massage it into the nail bed to strengthen the nails and even shave or condition your beard with it. 

Man-flu bath oil (an invigorating, de-congesting and anti-bacterial blend for poorly times) 5 to 10 ml dose per bath

20 mls Fractionated Coconut oil (disperses in water unlike some carriers)
4 drops Peppermint
4 drops Rosemary
4 drops Tea Tree

Lie in the bath, read Vogue/GQ. Enjoy.

The Tea Tree plant - Nature's cure all wonder

Staying in on a cold wet night posh oil for face, hands, morale and libido

10 mls Golden Cold Pressed Jojoba carrier oil
10 mls Rosehip carrier oil
2 drops Jasmine Absolute
2 drops Rose Absolute (I prefer Damascena to Centifolia)
1 drop Neroli

This is an expensive elixir, but not nearly as expensive as a night out. There - I’ve enabled you. 
These powerful absolutes are known for being deeply comforting, anti-depressant, uplifting and sensuous. Perfect for making you feel serene and perhaps a tad more frisky after a long day. I use this as a facial massage oil and take great pleasure in doing the routine whilst listening to Bach’s Cello Concertos. This excellent video on Youtube will teach you how to do it effectively:


I also use a Jasmine, Rose and Neroli combo neat as an aroma-therapeutic perfume if I’m feeling low. Neat skin application is not recommended (I’m not recommending it) but I expect it’s not as dangerous as crack cocaine or gin.

Heartthrob Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser raises his libido by sniffing some Rosa Damascena (any excuse)

Hurry up Christmas room fragrancing essential oils

Using a burner (I like a standard tea light ceramic model), try these oils to get in the festive spirit:

Hemlock or Black Spruce (on it’s own) – of all the coniferous plants, Spruce is the most evocative Christmas tree smell, you’ll love this if you wear Ormonde Jayne Woman or Man.

Mulled spice oil:

1 drop Bay Leaf
1 drop Cinnamon Leaf
2 drops sweet or blood orange


Practical tips and sensible bits for newbies:

Although I love many inexpensive perfumes, I don’t recommend buying cheap aromatherapy supplies. In this instance, you get what you pay for. Cheap absolutes in particular are often awash with solvents that have not been removed properly after the extraction process and are often cut with cheaper synthetic substances. Yuk. Buy from a reputable supplier, not some charlatan offering it half price on Ebay.

As a general guide, you can use essential oils at around a 5% dilution on the body and 2% on the face. I stick to this rule on my sensitive facial skin and when making remedies for other people. However, I use whopping great doses in my personal use bath and body products and it hasn’t killed me yet.

Longevity – Essential oils don’t perish for a very long time (apart from some citruses). Carrier oils do. Jojoba oil is a superb natural preservative meaning that blends made with Jojoba don’t require any additions. You can mix it with cheaper carrier oils such as Sweet Almond or Grapeseed to make large quantities for the body. A 1% dose of Wheatgerm oil will extend the life of anything else.

Essential oils are powerful medicines, some of which can be dangerous. Aromatherapy expert – Julia Lawless wrote two superb books which are great for beginners to gain a good level of both safety and aroma-therapeutic knowledge. These are:

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy - the best for beginners, including lots of tips about making your own medicinal and cosmetic preparations and a chapter about the psycho- aromatherapy and it’s application to perfumery.
And
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils - an essential reference for anyone who has been seduced by exotic and rare oils used in perfumery, includes lots of information about how to avoid irritation and brain damage (Wormwood, that’s you I’m referring to). An excellent book for those with some existing knowledge wishing to extend their oil collection.

The recipes in this are unlikely to cause any reactions, but as with all aromatherapy products exercise caution or avoid if you are up the duff and check the encyclopedia for contra-indications if you have a serious medical condition.

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