A Whirl of Fragrance

Several years ago, I had a horrible skin reaction to an artisan soap. I suspected a fragrance oil the soap maker had used. Naturally, she was horrified and offered me a free bar to make up for it (I chose an unscented bar based on olive and avocado oils). Since then, I’ve been careful around scented products. Since then, I’ve come to realize it was probably a natural essential oil that caused my reaction, but I still vet fragranced items quite carefully. As I also get migraine headaches, I have yet another reason to be careful.

Sadly, fragrance is one of my favorite things. A scent can evoke so much feeling and memory. So I’ve spent a fair amount of time searching around for fragrance companies that really pay attention to the ingredients they put into their fragrance. I don’t always get completely all-natural items, but I prefer companies that avoid the major nasties and focus on naturally-derived scents.

Recently, I placed an order from Demeter Fragrance, a company that has been on my radar since I was a teenager and they were releasing really weird scents like “Dirt.” They focus on single-note scents and encourage blending and layering. As someone who favors simple scents and florals, I love this idea. Rather than getting a designer fragrance with a dozen notes in it, I can blend my own, really letting each element shine.

So I put together an order of samples, along with a small bottle of one of their completely 100% natural scents. I went with an assortment of florals (violet, Bulgarian rose, and jasmine), along with two spicier scents to use as bases (bourbon, and whiskey and tobacco), a sample of vetiver (for grounding), and a bottle of the 100% natural rose scent. They also included a free bottle of magnolia perfume.

I have to say the scents are lovely. The 100% natural rose is very rosy, though I can detect the distinctive scent of rose geranium. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to stay strong on my skin for long, but I appreciate it as a nice, natural-smelling scent.

The other florals are wonderful, too. The jasmine is a rich, syrupy jasmine, probably sambac rather than grandiflorum. The violet is very, very light, but has a lightness that I will revisit in the spring time. The Bulgarian rose is a fantastic, real-rose scent. Some people think florals smell grandmotherly, and while I’ve never seen that as a problem, none of these have that powdery scent that can make floral perfume smell odd.

The whiskey and tobacco has a strong pipe tobacco note, with a bit of whiskey’s sharpness underneath. It has a bit of vanilla to it, without smelling too sweet. The bourbon smells, well, like my bottle of Eagle Rare. It’s just sweet enough, just sharp enough, and with a brightness that will be fantastic in spring and summer. And vetiver is likely going to become my favorite base note.

I have to say, I was most impressed so far with the sample of magnolia. It’s not overpowering, but it’s very floral. When I was in high school, on my walk home, I would stop and stick my nose in the gigantic white blooms on the magnolia trees along my route. This captures the faint rosiness, the notes of honeysuckle and jasmine, and that special fragrance particular to a magnolia. It brings back memories, which is the ultimate goal of most fragrance for me. Despite the fact that it’s very much a spring-y scent, I will probably wear it throughout the dark days of winter to brighten my mood.

As far as the samples go, my plan to start blending and layering them to see what combinations I like. Then, I can order larger vials for blending a custom scent. So far, I believe I will try mixing jasmine with whiskey and tobacco, and vetiver. I may also try rose, violet, and bourbon.

I’m so excited to play with my little order of fragrance. I haven’t yet seen how the synthetic fragrance blends last on my skin, but I’m looking forward to experimenting.

Note: I purchased all these fragrances with my own money and have not received anything in return for this post. Even the sample was a standard gift-with-purchase.

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2 thoughts on “A Whirl of Fragrance

  1. So much of this absolutely lovely post feels like it could come straight from my own mouth (err, fingers :)), as I too have incredibly sensitive skin and have gotten some really bad reactions over the years to scented products, even some that were all-natural/handmade. I love Demeter’s delightful offerings, too, and try to treat myself to a new bottle or two a year from them. The latest one was a gift from Tony actually, and was cotton candy. Very sweet and youthful, but certainly enjoyable, too, and it was a great scent for the sizzling summer months. I adore sweet tobacco smoke scents and really want to try their version next (especially after reading your thoughts on it).

    Big hugs & happy weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    • It’s very funny, almost right after I posted this, I realized that Demeter had forgotten to send me one of the fragrances I ordered (Wisteria). I called them up and it turned out that Wisteria had run out just as they filled my order. The nice lady on the phone apologized and offered me a refund or a replacement. I went with Earl Grey Tea, which arrived swiftly and has become my new favorite!

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