Recognizing Redefining Perfume: Letter to Natural Health Magazine on Natural Botanical Perfumery

On July 27, 2006 I was chatting on a thread on the natural perfumery group I host on Yahoo (link on the right) about an article on natural perfumers in the then-current Natural Health magazine. There were several "regular" perfumers included in the article, and the mention of phthalates made it seem like we use them. With Mandy Aftel's help, I drafted a letter to the magazine. They just published the letter, edited of course, in the November issue! It's so wonderful to see the name of the Guild and natural perfumery presented in a positive light in the media ;-)

Here's the original letter I sent.

Dear Editor:

I am the President of the Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild, founded by
Mandy Aftel, and I'm the host of a 900+ member Yahoo group for natural perfumers.

Natural perfumers define themselves as artists who use only aromatics from
nature, such as absolutes, concretes and essential oils from plants. They
may also use natural source beeswax, and perhaps ambergris and other animal products.

We're so pleased you're covering natural perfumery and are continuing to
make the public aware of it. I have read articles in Natural Health
previously on this subject. I am a subscriber and enjoy every issue.

On behalf of the natural perfumers, I would like to address some
misconceptions put forth in your article :

1. Several of the perfumers you featured in the article do use synthetic
fragrance oils, and are not natural perfumers.

2. Natural perfumers do not use, nor have they ever used, phthalates.

The natural aromatics, such as glorious rose otto, refreshing grapefruit
oil, and musky ambrette seed are part of our palette that is redefining
perfumery in the 21st century. That is the real focus of natural perfumery,
and in that area, some use only organic materials, or may produce vegan,
traditional, or sustainable products, according to their philosophy.
Education is a priority now, since we are such a new art form, and I thank
you for the chance to communicate these points.

Back to October 2006 - the only updates are that the natural perfumery group is now over 1000 members, and the Guild has grown tremendously since it opened in June. There are now more than 75 members, including professional perfumers, suppliers and stores, associates and enthusiasts.
It's really gratifying to see such a positive response to the art we love so much, an art that pleases our senses and gives us creative outlet to our inspiration and talent.
The Guild members come from the USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Ireland, Britan, France and Barbados. It's very exciting to see the interest in natural perfumery growing worldwide and so many businesses sprouting up.


  1. Anya-
    I'm so happy for you- seeing the growth of the Guild, and the surge of interest, will undoubtedly result in the need for further education of the public [I find the education aspect to be an ongoing process, don't you ? Although I love it,it never ends...].

    That's a wonderful letter- enlightening, professional,and gracious [did I expect less from a Libra ?].

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    A propos of your passionate, and truthful response to L's sandalwood article recently-
    You and I do not differ on our views about sustaining natural resources one whit...
    I merely lament my addiction, my own frailty, as well as the abuse of the lovely Earth I so enjoy populating.

    Gongrats, my dear, and be well-
    I always read your posts with pleasure, and love the way you keep the mind and spirit honest !

  2. Dear,

    Your letter elucidates crucial points in the public's mind and I am very glad you got a chance to voice your opinion and the truth of natural perfumers.

    May they listen!

  3. It's great to keep the discussion and information flowing, about everything the artisan natural perfumers are doing, especially since such a militantly pro synth stance has been getting a lot of attention lately. (Just finished the Burr interview on Since there is more and more public interest building in the natural perfume artisans as time goes on, and more venues becoming available, and especially now that Bendels is doing more to offer the direct experience of natural perfumes, the public can have the opportunity to try it all for themselves...
    thanks for doing so much work on keeping us informed...

  4. Chaya,
    Thanks for the positive response to the field of natural perfumery, as seen by an independent person.

    As far as the endangered plants, including sandalwood - it is an individual decision, and the main thing is to get the information out there so people can decide what to do for themselves.

  5. Thanks, Helg, for all your balanced support over time. It is with the reader like you in mind that I write such letters.

  6. Dear Lucy

    It will be the public who makes the decision. There is enough diversity and individual taste that no one type of "anything" need dominate. Choice is what it's all about, and those who have an agenda to destroy or hinder choice are rather short-sighted (at the very least ;-)


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