November 20, 2016
Ancient Egyptians wore scent cones made of beeswax and as they would dance the oils would perfume the air
Egyptians, well versed in the beauty of aromatic ingredients, steeped precious and sensual aromatics in oils and fats to create perfumed gifts for kings and gods. Many modern perfumers find the same luxurious beauty in creating with oil and beeswax for their blends. Intimate and long-lasting, oil and solid perfumes are an alternative to alcohol for those who love the experience of smoothing rather than spritzing their perfume. In France, concretes, a mixture of oils, and waxes were poured into molds, famously Fragonard sold them since the 1920s and today Le Labo has added solids to their offerings. Crafted with complexity and beauty, they are well worth a try. We asked four indie and artisan perfumers who are renowned for their coveted perfume oils and solids.
MiriamVareldzis of 40notes creates perfume oils
Dr. Elise Pearlstine: Oil and solid perfumes are a very different medium from alcohol-based perfumes. What attracts you to this particular medium?
Miriam Vareldzis of 40notes Perfume: I created the 40notes Signature Collection in an oil carrier because I felt the carrier created a more sensual experience, ‘rounding the edges’. I love the depth and richness that surround a fragrance created in an oil carrier. I originally created the collection in an Apricot Kernel oil base, and soon after realized the slight nuttiness affected the tonality the scents. The line has been in fractionated coconut oil ever since. Alcohol can be an excellent carrier and is often easier to work with than oil… especially for difficult-to-dissolve resins. I also love it for “splashy” citrus and green scents. Personally, I’ve not ever experienced my skin drying out with an alcohol based scent, but many people enjoy the moisturizing effect that oil has on their skin with an oil carrier.
Laurie Stern Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery
Laurie Stern Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery: I love having a pretty little compact and applying them to my wrists, cleavage, and behind my ears. They're soft and still radiate a gentle scent. I have been keeping bees for 11 years and always use my own beeswax for them with an organic jojoba base. It feels like I am honoring ancient techniques to create modern treasures since I only use botanical essences to make them.
Sarah Horowitz-Thran of Sarah Horowitz Parfums
Sarah Horowitz-Thran of Sarah Horowitz Parfums: Although I do not work in solids, oils were my first medium – and still my favorite. I describe the difference between EDP and oil in terms of intimacy; the oils are far more intimate – they have a shorter range of sillage, but last longer on the skin. One has to be a bit closer to the wearer to smell them and they work more intimately with the body chemistry. We like to say that they have a “nuzzle factor”.
Maria McElroy of aroma M Perfume: I have an aromatherapy background, so my initial blending experience was with oils. I have always loved to apply oils to the skin; it has its own sensual quality. I like to create my perfumes to feel like a veil on the skin and that is something only oils can do. I feel there is a deeper interaction with oils on the skin. Longevity is also something that I appreciate working with oils. For me to have scent linger on skin even the next day is the perfect scent experience.
What are the challenges and rewards? How do you achieve sillage?
Raw materials and oils Sarah Horowitz Parfums
Sarah: The challenge is perhaps in the education on some customers that do not feel that the oils can be as “high end” of an experience with the finished perfume (“Do I have to touch it with my fingers?” ) as well as the misunderstanding that many clients believe that if it is an oil it MUST be a natural, which is not always the case. And the sillage, of course – but as I mentioned earlier – the rewards to me outweigh the challenges; the intimacy and the longevity are great selling points.
Laurie: Of course with natural perfumes I want them to last a long time, so making sure there are enough base notes, like vetiver, patchouli, vanilla, etc. And I up the top note a little too. I really find them sensual and luscious! I use a high percentage of materials! Most of my customers know that the naturals are worn close to the body, and are happy with that.
Maria McElroy of aroma M work space in Brooklyn
Maria: I am at ease working with oils. Because of the viscosity of oils the sillage it not difficult to create and can be quite fascinating. My perfumes are known for their long staying power, I love that about oils.
40notes perfume oils bring to mind the vintage fragrances such as Caron with the badrouche gold cording and glass stoppers
Miriam: I feel the scents automatically have a softer more intimate feel in an oil carrier, which is a lovely benefit. I would say a challenge to working in an oil base is to achieve a clear freshness with certain topnotes. In my experience, sillage is in great part affected by the construction, quality materials and signature of the scent itself, regardless of the carrier.
40notes Perfume flacon
Tell us a little about how you find the perfect packaging.
Miriam: That’s the ongoing quest, isn’t it! I find I’m inspired by an era in perfumery, and then attempt to create my version of it today (without doing any custom glass work, so far!). For me, packaging decisions also have the waste/recycle issues to consider these days; which is a very big consideration during development.
Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery Packaging is whimsical and custom designed with a vintage vibe
Laurie: I am a packaging freak! I love that part of it! I custom designed my sterling silver jewel boxes that house them and I sewed the original the silk purses with a rhinestone buckle for them too. Sadly, I only have a limited amount of them and I can't get them anymore! I always loved the perfumes from the 1900's where when you were done with the perfume, you had a magical bottle and box for keepsakes.
Sarah: For our oils, we use a roll-on bottle. The client can apply wherever they like, whenever they like, with great control. Also GREAT for travel, which is another selling point.
aroma M Roll On Bottles are as different as snowflakes and uses Japanese paper
Maria: I have been using roll on bottles since the 2000’s. They are easy and I like the fact that they can be popped into your bag for travel. For more glamour, the French stopper bottles couldn’t be more ideal. I offer aroma M’s all-natural perfume oil Camellia in these classic perfume bottles. This fragrance oil lends itself to this style of a dressing table bottle.
"Wear perfume where you want to be kissed"-Coco CHANEl apped MC
How and where do you recommend people wear oil and solid perfumes?
Laurie: I love them just for myself, and take great joy in sniffing my wrists and feeling the effects that these gorgeous essences have on my emotions, but also do feel free to apply them where you want to be kissed, as Coco said!
Sarah Horowitz Thran with a customer
Sarah: I recommend pulse points; wrist, neck, cleavage, even behind the knees, or ankles. The different application I recommend for oils that I never recommend for an EDP is to apply a tiny amount to the hair by dabbing a bit of oil on the fingertips, and running the fingers through the hair. As hair has no body heat, as skin does, the fragrance is not being burned off and the scent will last all day until washed.
Maria: I think that is the best part about perfume oils; you can really control how much you want to wear. With alcohol spray perfumes it is difficult to know how much you end up applying, but with oils you can dab just a bit or roll on more for a heady night out.
Miriam: Lavishly, of course! With oils, wear where-ever skin is exposed: décolleté, neck, wrist, back of knee! Any remaining, I like to rub on the ends of hair (it’s such a little amount it will be absorbed in no time). I own an amazing Natural Rose solid perfume made with pure beeswax and jojoba that I even pat on my face during the day if I want a hit of Rose.
–-Dr. Elise Pearlstine, Editor and Perfumer for Tambela with contributions from Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief
For our Oil and Solid Perfumes Draw: There are four perfumes from our gifted perfumers.
Worldwide: The award winning 2012 CaFleureBon Best of Scent 40notes Crystalline Hyacinth Limited Edition 2 ml sample vial (only four ounces was ever produced. This is one of former Managing Editor Tama Blough's favorites)
US Only aroma M Camellia Perfume Oil sample All Natural
US Only Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery Moon & Stars Scent Locket housing a stunning solid composed of tuberose, star shaped jasmine, sandalwood, cacao, Ceylon cinnamon and mandarin.ALL NATURAL
Pictured Perfect Gardenia
To be eligible you must be a Cafleurebon registered reader (register here). Please leave a comment with what you learned about oil and solid parfums creation siting specifics, if you wear solids or oils and why, your choices should you win, and where you live. Draw closes 11/23/2016.
A CaFleureBon Perfumer’s Workshop Page is coming soon to Facebook
Follow @cafleurebon @elisepearlstine @aroma_m_perfumes @miriamvareldzis @sarahhoriwitzparfums and @velvetandsweetpeaspurrfumery on Instagram