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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hello, my name is Charna and I like fruity perfumes (judge me if you must)

PART 1: Fruit Tinctures

I've been thinking about fruity, frothy perfumes recently.  Spring has finally arrived in New England and the apple and cherry trees are blooming.  Recently, one sunny breezy morning, I found myself engulfed in a cloud of tiny circular apple blossom petals that swirled around me.  Delicate white petals fell softly on my eyelashes, temporarily blinding me and I was reminded of a spring "snowstorm" of petals.  The smells of the blossoms combined with new plants and flowers sprouting everywhere is subtly sweet, a fruity delicate scent with green overtones.  It is intoxicating.

Let me begin by saying I think fruity perfumes get a bad rap, and those who like these fruity scents are relegated to tweens, teenagers, thong-wearing "girls gone wild" types, and a few older women who drink white zinfandel because it's pink and sweet and wear too much eyeshadow.  (The stereotyping of the fruity perfume wearer comes from years of extensive research working as a bartender, and department store perfume salesperson.)

I will now admit the obvious: I too like fruity scents, or perhaps more to the point, fragrances with some fruity notes; hints of lemon, honey, or berries.  I am not a tween, teenager, girl gone wild, or middle-aged white zinfandel drinker (at least not yet . . . )  Perfume connoisseurs frown on these frothy concoctions, and indeed some are truly horrible.  Be Delicious by DKNYcomes to mind, as well as some Paris Hilton monstrosity I smelled in a magazine at the gym.  I promptly gagged and lost my footing on the treadmill causing an embarrassing lurch towards the treadmill next to me, which was --of course-- occupied by a fit male runner who gave me the evil eye for disrupting his perfect jogging rhythm.  I wanted to yell loud enough so he could hear me over his ipod, "IT WASN'T MY FAULT.  IT WAS THIS DISGUSTING MAGAZINE SCENT-STRIP!"  Luckily, I restrained myself and went back to my leisurely walking pace and informative Us Weekly magazine perusal.

Creating fruity notes for natural perfumes can be a bit more difficult.  After all, there's no such thing as strawberry essential oil.  Natural perfumers must work a bit harder to create these notes and this challenge is the very thing I love about natural perfumery. One of my favorite methods of creating a fruit note for natural perfumes is through tincturing freeze dried fruit in perfumers alcohol.  One can use high proof grain alcohol such as everclear or organic grape alcohol which is a bit fruity to begin with but unfortunately expensive.  Add some freeze dried fruit from a company such as Just Tomatoes to the alcohol, cover and allow to tincture for a few weeks or months even.  It takes a good amount of fruit to create these tinctures.  Depending on the volume you wish to make, I recommend obtaining the freeze dried fruit from where it can be purchased in larger size tubs economically.  I make mine in large mason canning jars.  Shake periodically.  Remove the fruit, and add more repeating the process until the tincture is fruity enough.

I've tried tincturing: apricots, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, mangos and asian pears.  In my opinion, mangos, apricots and strawberries work the best.  These fruits tincture easily and smell true to the fruit.  The asian pear tincture was a bust and smells oddly of raw potatoes.  It has a starchy, brown paper bag like scent.  The raspberry tincture is bright fuchsia colored, and tart.  Currently the raspberry tincture smells more like black currant bud than ripe raspberries. Perhaps it will take on a raspberry aroma after many more raspberries have been added and the strength of the tincture is increased.  The peach tincture is lovely, however the apricot tincture smelled peachier.

Using these tinctures as a component of a natural perfume creates a marked difference.  The fruit seems to appear as a top note and base note which is unusual.  These tinctures can be used to varying degrees in perfume blends and don't necessarily make the final scent fruity.  They can enhance florals, smooth rough or sharp edges in blends and generally round out a perfume.  Try rose absolute in strawberry tincture, it's amazing, sweet and rose colored!  Osmanthus in apricot tincture go hand in hand.  When I was perfecting my Ginger Lily perfume I made many, many variations.  Once I added mango tincture to the blend it was magic.  It had such a marked effect on the perfume I carried around vials with two versions of the perfume in my purse.  They were identical, except one used mango tincture.  I was constantly having friends and family smell both versions while I hissed wild eyed, "Isn't it amazing?  Can you smell the difference? Smell it?"  I got a lot of positive feedback from the mango enhanced version of Ginger Lily, but it could be they were a bit frightened.

Pictured above are peach and apricot tinctures

apple blossoms

I will be posting the second part of the fruity perfume series within the next few days focusing on natural botanicals with sweet fruity notes.  Look for PART 2: Creating fruity notes with essential oils and absolutes. 


lcain331 said...

I love some fruity scents and loved your explanation of how much they can mellow and blend a scent.


Ambrosia said...

It does get a bit scary foor family and friends doesn't it! I guess that's why I started blogging about my perfumeing adventures..I needed a place to ramble on....where people who actually understood me were listening!
I must try your freeze dried fruit tincturing idea! sounds lovely!
I recently found a supplier of apple Co2 if you'd like their contact details!

Petra said...

I got a whole bunch of tinctures going last summer. I think I used some of every one of the Just Tomatoes that I found locally (although I don't remember the asian pear). I haven't checked on them lately, but much like you, I found the strawberry and raspberry quite nice.

A couple times I applied some to my wrist and I have to admit it was a bit sticky. Do you find that when used in moderation, it is OK (not sticky)?

Charna said...

Hi Ambrosia,
Thanks for your comments. I'd LOVE to contact your supplier for some apple co2, and I love reading your blog!

Hi Petra,
When you made your tinctures, did you try blackberry? I haven't yet, but I'm curious . . . You are right about the sticky factor with some tinctures. I've noticed it seems to happen with those fruits that have a higher sugar content, like mango for example. The mango tincture has a large amount of sugar crystals which settle on the bottom, and must be filtered out. Depending on how strong you get the tinctures, some can get a little tacky. I dilute these more to try and keep the finished perfume from having any stickiness.

Petra said...

I think I did do the blackberry. I forgot to check last night. I will check this evening and report back.

Petra said...

OK, here is the list (I thought it was more)...

I also forgot that I tinctured oatstraw.

Stacey said...

Nice to come across your post; I had problems with stickiness in my fruit tinctures as well. Curious how you dealt with removing the sugars. Here's an account of my experience:

I am trying an evaporation experiment! Of course, it would help if we had more sunshine. . .