Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Focusing In On Our Art of Natural Perfumery

Sometimes the busy bee that is me has a bit of a blurry see. Ok, bad poetry. Sharper image now, though.

In May of 2005 I discovered that there were folks out there blogging on perfume. I also found perfume forums. As a respite from some rather nasty folks who had plans to take over my natural perfumery group and used some rather Machiavellian means, I drifted around the internet looking for some related, non-stressful talk on perfume. (BTW, that "group" founded on my stolen list is well, listless and feeble, and mine has more than doubled in size to 1300 members -- the good guys do win in the end.)

I found about a dozen blogs, and made friends, or at the very least, acquaintance, with the bloggers. I chatted about mainstream perfumes, aka those made with synths, the stuff you find in all the department stores, boutiques and drugstores, always referring to my beloved natural perfumes also. Many of the ladies (and two men) bloggers weren't very familiar with natural perfumes. They confused them with aromatherapy perfumes, and that is understandable. We use many of the same materials, but our intent and techniques are quite different. So, if the bloggers heard of a perfume made only with natural aromatics, they tended to associate it with the perfumes on the shelves of health food stores, which are wholly 100% aromatherapy perfumes. Or synth-laden aromatherapy perfumes. Not natural perfumes at all.

Used to be, I linked to these blogs from both Natural Perfumery and then, this blog. No more.

As of yesterday, no more links to any sites that report on, chat about, or promote mainstream perfumes. Let those who choose to spritz and dab with the latest niche or artisan or Big House perfume have their fun. I just want to focus on our art, promote our art, and keep the image and intent undiluted. An analogy would be - well, if this were a vegetarian blog, why in the heck would I link to blogs with recipes for meat? Sure, it's all cuisine, but there are subdivisions within any discipline, any art, and ours is all natural.

In the next year, besides teaching my class in perfumery, creating perfumes, managing the Natural Perfumers Guild, I'll be working on educating the public on natural aromatics. There is so much confusion out there, so much fiddling with the truth from the big companies who produce household products, and yes, even the "natural perfumes" sold at Whole Foods that are full of synths.

There will also be an emphasis on raising and holding firm on standards for natural perfumes. I've had the painful task of turning down applicants for perfumer status in the Guild this past year. So many submit lovely aromatherapy perfumes with no structure, no sign of sophisticated technique, not comprehension of why, when their perfume "smells nice" it can't be labeled a natural perfume. Several of them are what we call "weekend warriors". They've taken a short course often taught by an aromatherapist who says they'll "certify" them, and they are churning out blends at the rate of one a month. Or quicker.

Natural perfumes, any true perfumes, take months, if not years, to create. Aromatherapy blends can be put together in a day, or less. Definitely not the same thing.

I was invited by Grant Osborne of Basenotes, a perfume forum I originally found in 1998 or so, to write an occasional column on naturals. That will be my one remaining link with the world of mainstream perfumes, and I wills strive to contribute informative, lively articles on natural perfumery and all it means.

As a final note, I do want to add: The Guild does not have the monopoly on natural perfume. We only have a duty to ourselves to set goals and standards for our members. That is the task at hand. And I'm focused.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cropwatch Newsletter - call to arms, call for volunteers and STOP THE FDA GLOBALIZATION ACT OF 2008


The latest Cropwatch newsletter isn't on their site yet. You can view it on the Natural Perfumers Guild site by clicking on the link. It's long, 50+pages, packed with information.

Before you read the latest message from Cropwatch below, I cannot stress enough the importance of what Tony Burfield and his Cropwatch organization are doing FOR US ALL - those of us who love natural aromatics, natural and botanical perfumery, and want to retain our rights.

If you enjoy aromatherapy, naturally scented toiletries, natural body care and natural perfumes, you'll want to pay attention to this issue very closely as your access to natural aromatics is in danger.

This message went out to the 1200+ members of the Yahoo group I host, and it's relevant here: Let's put the power and beauty of our numbers to work. Please volunteer to help him if you have any expertise in the areas he's asking for assistance with, or perhaps you're just a great researcher and can track down the information despite not having these issues in your area of expertise.

His latest message:

Dear All,

As we approach critical mass, we have some choices to make.

Perfumery used to be about history, art & culture. Now it seems to be mainly about the (often nonsensical) regulation of ingredients driven by a form of imposed & unchallengeable legislatory 'Toxicological Imperialism'.

This itself is held in place by fear-culture amongst perfume buyers, who are terrified of media exposure/litigation over supposedly harmful fragrance ingredients. Interest in herbal medicine used to include your right to self-dosing, using traditional active plant extracts. A program of their removal from shop-shelves is the result of back-door lobbying, via pharmaceutical concerns.

Our age-old usage of aromatic plants & essential oils for their useful properties - as biocides, antiseptics etc. etc., is similarly curtailed by this flawed system of Hyperbureaucratic Technocracy within Europe, which is being carbon-copied by authorities in Canada, the US and other countries.

How much longer do we have to put up with this sorry state of affairs where natural ingredient use is often so affected by negligible &* *unquantified risk, before everyone sees that in reality this is an "Emperors New Clothes" situation? The revolution for common sense in aromatic regulation starts here. We are getting ever bigger! Join us!

Please read Cropwatch's August 2007 Newsletter.
contact Tony at:

P.S. Volunteers are needed to help examine the following areas...

1. Furanocoumarins. Academics & industrialists are helping us construct a massive data-base, which we will make publicly available, so we can all see the issues for ourselves. But we need more help.

2. Methyl eugenol carcinogenicity - challenges to the present accepted & outdated view.

3. Dimethyl & diethyl phthalates - ignored data & any associated industry conspiracy issues (thanks to the Perfume Foundation for this lead).

4. Sensitisers - ignored contrary evidence to the '26 Sensitisers' issue & new policy initiatives.

5. Issues of transparency & secrecy, freedom of information & the withholding of safety data from the public domain within professional trade & research organisations. This area includes how regulatory bodies have processed scientific evidence, & examining records of how scientific decisions were made.

We have limited evidence from a number of academics that an 'expert' EU advisory committee has not properly dealt with (or perhaps have not properly understood) submitted evidence in particular cases; these need public exposure, & we need to establish a more robust code of practice.

Thank you,