Perfume is personal - Health & Beauty

Perfume is personal

The fragrances we like are unique to us. We may use a variety of scented products daily, including soaps, bodywashes, lotions and personal perfume. Our ancestors would have infused water with sweet-smelling flowers, herbs and even wood. Spices such as cinnamon were burned as incense. Early methods of perfume-making used by the Egyptians and later the French, involved extracting oils by a method called enfleurage. They immersed flowers and herbs in oil or fat, sometimes heated, and this trapped the plants’ fragrances. The oil was then filtered to remove pieces of the flower and washed with alcohol. This technique was developed further for delicate plants in what is considered to be the world’s perfumery capital, Grasse, in France.

Sweet smelling Grasse
Grasse is a town on the French Riviera, situated in the hills north of Cannes. In the 16th century, aware of how strongly their leather smelt, tanners decided to “perfume” it. Beautiful flowers were planted, such as roses and jasmine, to extract their fragrance. Famous names are associated with Grasse; Chanel grow the Mai de Rose there. This flower has, for nearly 100 years, contributed to the iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2021. When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously replied, “I only wear Chanel No. 5.” Dior, Les Fontaines Parfumées, Galimard, Fragonard and Molinard are there and a beautiful museum, the Musée International de la Parfumerie, tells the fascinating story of Grasse’s past, holding a unique collection of 50,000 items related to perfume.

Closer to home
We are fortunate to have our own perfume-making studio in Otago. Miller Road Fragrance Studios, located in Devenport and Queenstown, offer a workshop where you can spend two and a half hours creating your own 30ml bottle of bespoke eau de parfum. There is a choice of both masculine and feminine fragrances, with 60 perfumery materials available including rose, jasmine, vanilla, sandalwood and ambergris. Private bookings are also available for birthdays, Christmas outings, corporate events or Hens Nights.

Sustainable scents
If you are concerned about the number of synthetic chemicals used in perfume, natural fragrances should have 80% or more certified organic ingredients to be classed as organic. The ingredients are plant-based, such as plant oils, distilled water and natural alcohol made from products such as grapes, wheat or corn. Producing natural perfumes is much more labour intensive and usually made on a smaller scale. The price of the ingredients is higher and therefore natural fragrances can be more expensive. However, for those concerned about what they put onto their skin, (which is the largest organ in the body; 60% of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream) sustainable scents are better for the planet and can have a greater intensity of fragrance. Ensure a patch test is done first if prone to allergies.

Happy dabbing

There are four major groups of perfume: Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh. Perfume or parfum can last up to 12 hours, whilst eau de parfum and perfume oil can linger for eight. Eau de toilette can be available for both men and women and does not last as long; typically, four to seven hours. Eau de cologne, again for both sexes, lasts for around two to three hours.
Our sense of smell is directly linked to the limbic system, which processes and regulates emotion and memory. Certain smells, such as the sea, freshly mown grass, coffee, or even the smell of rain can take us back to a specific time or place. Scents can be nostalgic and affect our mood. As an example, citrus notes such as lemon, lime, orange or bergamot have been shown to reduce stress and increase our energy. Dabbing or spraying on a favourite scent can help us to feel good and give a boost to an otherwise drab day. - Gill Towle