Natural perfumes: a few favorites

Perfume collection

About the author: Trish Vawter is the creator of Scent Hive, a blog dedicated to natural perfumes and beauty products. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two boys, and is a practicing nurse midwife.

I come to this guest post with sincere excitement and admittedly, a dose of trepidation. Since I write primarily about natural perfumes and beauty products at Scent Hive, I am acutely aware that discussions can get heated around the “natural” topic. While I do prefer natural perfumes, I don’t want this post to become a natural vs synthetic debate, mostly because I don’t believe one to be superior to the other. But I do have reasons for my preference which I will share with you.

Beauty is ephemeral, and I appreciate that in a fragrance. It’s not quite the first thing most people regard as a virtue in perfume, but there’s delight in reapplying perfume over the course of a day. Oftentimes it’ll be a different perfume depending on my mood or where I am going. But there’s a balance to be struck: a perfume that’s too fleeting is frustrating, so I want my perfume to last a few hours, if not longer, which most high quality natural perfumes do. Yet, I don’t like a perfume to last into the next day, or to have huge sillage. Less tenacity and more intimacy are the qualities I seek. Additionally, longevity and sillage are commonly enhanced in synthetic perfumes with phthalates, a petrochemical I try to avoid in all beauty products.

While I find the evanescence of naturals compelling…

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Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy

Red Flower Ocean Purifying Body Wash and Moisturizing Lotion

Red Flower Ocean body products

All the scents in Red Flower’s revamped (or “recrafted”) Flower Skin line are named for specific flowers or fruits, with the exception of Ocean. Red Flower doesn’t give the notes for this fragrance; instead, Ocean is simply described as “a vast scent that opens the lungs and cools the skin.” It seems to be dominated by an intense dose of eucalyptus, or some fragrant variety of laurel, with subtle notes of mint and something kelp-like below the cleansing, camphorous heart of the fragrance.

According to the Red Flower website, Ocean Body Wash (shown) and Moisturizing Lotion are both concocted from “organic flowers, bio-dynamic honey, and wild-crafted botanical extracts.” The Body Wash actually looks and feels like honey, and its ingredients list also includes spirulina (an algae rich in fatty acids and other nutrients). When I use the Body Wash in the shower (lots of lather!), or even just to wash my hands at the sink, I can feel Ocean’s essential oils clearing my head…

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Roses, roses & more roses


A handful of rose scents, although not all of them are really “about” rose…

Zafferano, by the new-ish men's niche line Odori, opens on an expansive, shimmery-metallic saffron note. It seems to bubble and dance on the skin for a time, slowly taking on raspberry jam undertones as it calms. It's fun — I kept reapplying to do it all over again. The dry down is a more standard-issue rose-saffron combination, very nicely done but nothing terribly unusual, with plenty of cedar. I hardly even notice high prices these days, but at $210 for 100 ml Eau de Toilette, this is a spendy little number. I've yet to top $200 on a single perfume myself, and while I like Zafferano, there's nothing here to tempt me to set a new record. If you like saffron and don't mind the price, do try it (and if you love iris, the Odori version is worth a shot as well). The notes: cedar, saffron, raspberry flowers, wild rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, oriental amber and rosewood.

Miller et Bertaux's new Shanti Shanti is a warmer, drier take on rose…

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Red Flower ~ shopping for perfume in New York City

Red Flower store exterior, New York City

Red Flower recently entered the field of perfumery with natural fragrances called Champa, Ambrette, and Guaiac, three certified organic blends of oils distilled and extracted from natural ingredients. This small Manhattan-based company was originally best known for its lushly scented candles, which were created to evoke specific flowers, fruits, and trees in their natural settings (no vanilla-sugar desserts or Christmas potpourri here!) and are uncannily true to their models. The candles are now accompanied by shower gels, lotions, haircare, and playful ball-shaped soaps in the same scents. Red Flower also offers two lines of therapeutic body treatments inspired by the legendary bath rituals of Turkey and Japan (with a third series to be introduced in 2009)…

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Red Flower Hammam Body Treatments ~ scented body products

Red Flower Hammam Body TreatmentsIn my early 20s, I lived for a time in Copenhagen, Denmark, a land of my ancestors and a country known for fabulously long summer days filled with blue skies, beaches, beer-drinking down by the harbor and lingering candlelit dinners with friends outside, sitting cozily tucked into wool blankets against the midnight chill. But those of us who have endured the winter know there is a time when the sun first tentatively appears mid-morning and by mid-afternoon has already set, when the sky is one long sheet of gray from November until March, and the minimalism of the Danish modern look feels like part of a conspiracy to deprive one of any warmth or luxury.

One such winter, my mother arrived for a visit after a stay in India. When she'd asked if I would like anything from India, I'd responded 'color! can you bring some color back with you…it's so… cold here!' And so she arrived bringing several gorgeous silk brocade pillow cases in golden bronzes, deep wines, and earthy oranges with fabulous gold and silver threading on the detailing. I so clearly recall a deep sense of relief — into this cold barren landscape, a colorful burst of exotic warmth and abundance had arrived bringing reminders of a far off land, spice-laden cuisine and aromatic incense swirling through the dusty air upwards to the heavens.

When I first tried the Hammam Body Treatment products from Red Flower, I had a similar experience…

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