Ingredient obsession

I am not against transparency in labeling. I think it’s a subject that could use a lot of discussion. But I am against ingredient obsession. In a society that allows alcohol, tobacco and firearms to be freely purchased, and that turns a blind eye to the widespread use of illegal drugs, why are we concerned about whether a consumer product might contain a few parts per million of chemical X? Should we not be concerned, rather about whether the product itself is safe?

Ingredient tunnel vision is seriously bad for your health. It will turn you into an obsessive, […]

By |2018-04-24T20:26:02+00:00March 29th, 2012|Fragrance, Rants, Safety|10 Comments

Q&A: Ylang-ylang safety in perfume

Q&ACory T asks
What do you think is the upper safety level for Ylang-ylang in an oil based perfume? I have looked at the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) guideline and I’m not sure what to think about it. Thanks if you have an answer. I would appreciate it.


Hi Cory, thank you for your support! I would go along with the IFRA guideline of 0.8%. Ylang-ylang is, relatively speaking, one of the most skin-reactive essential oils. I don’t always agree with IFRA guidelines, but I think this is a good one.

By |2018-04-24T20:26:08+00:00July 21st, 2011|Fragrance, Q & A|4 Comments

Q&A: How Many Oils Can I Blend?

Q&AHow many of your favourite oils can you mix together before you lose the plot, so to speak? And are, say, three stress-relieving oils blended together more effective than one on its own?


If you want something for, say, aching muscles or sinus congestion, then “fragrance impact” is less important. However, if you are looking for an ideally-proportioned, wonderfully-smelling blend, most people find that if they mix more than 4 or 5 oils together they begin to, as you say, lose the plot.
You have to remember that each essential oil is composed […]

By |2018-04-24T20:26:09+00:00July 14th, 2011|Fragrance, Q & A|4 Comments

Essential oils in soap: interview with Kevin Dunn

Special thanks to Ken Harper of for making this interview available in Spanish: Este entrevista en Español!

Kevin M Dunn has a PhD in Chemical Physics and is currently the Elliott Professor of Chemistry at Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia. His book, Caveman Chemistry, brought him to the attention of soapmakers and he subsequently directed a series of research projects on the chemistry of handcrafted soap. This culminated in a second book, Scientific Soapmaking, which was published in 2010. More information here.

Kevin Dunn […]

By |2018-04-24T20:26:10+00:00June 25th, 2011|Fragrance, Interview|35 Comments

Uncorked! The Natural Perfumers Guild blogging event 6.1.11

UncorkedFINALwebjpg-1My father was born in London in 1911. He always told me it was easy to remember, because it was the year before the Titanic sank (who knew?). His parents were both French, so his first language was French, and he learned English when he went to school at the age of five or six. He grew up speaking both languages. In 1939 he was conscripted into the British Army and worked mostly as a clerk, keeping records of supplies (his pre-war job was in a bank, keeping records). While still in […]

By |2018-04-24T20:26:11+00:00June 1st, 2011|Aromatherapy / Research, Fragrance|10 Comments

World’s oldest perfumes discovered

The world’s oldest known perfumes have been found on the island reputed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, lust, and beauty, Italian archaeologists announced. Discovered on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus in 2003, the perfumes date back more than 4,000 years, said excavation leader Maria Rosaria Belgiorno of the National Research Council in Rome.

Remnants of the perfumes were found inside an ancient 3,230-square-foot (300-square-meter) factory that was part of a larger industrial complex at Pyrgos. The buildings were destroyed during an earthquake in 1850 B.C., but perfume bottles, mixing jugs, and stills were preserved under […]

By |2018-04-24T20:26:11+00:00May 8th, 2011|Fragrance|3 Comments

Tangerine-scented bird

Plants create essential oils by mixing together dozens of fragrant molecules. The functions of these fragrant molecules is primarily to attract pollinators and repel herbivores (generally insects in both cases) and to guard against fungal or bacterial infection. Interestingly, bacteria often produce fragrant molecules too. Insects produce the same aromatic molecules, which they use for intra-species communication. In insects we call them pheromones, and they impart messages that relate to mating, scent trails to food, alarm signals etc.

Aethia cristatella Aethia cristatella

Mammals don’t produce the same highly volatile fragrant molecules. […]

By |2018-04-24T20:26:12+00:00May 3rd, 2011|Fragrance, Sense of smell|Comments Off on Tangerine-scented bird

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