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Friday, June 29, 2012

Pantone Perfumes: A Guide For Creating Colorful Perfumes


By Charna from Providence Perfume Co., 100% natural perfume


Lady Gaga and I have precisely one thing in common: a black perfume in our roster.  According to a recent press release, Gaga is launching a new black hued perfume called Fame which morphs from black to clear when sprayed.  Hmmm, the wonders of modern chemistry?  My perfume is nearly black (and stays that way) from the addition of lots of delightful dark essences such as oakmoss and black tea. 

I've noticed a slew of colored perfumes being launched by the mainstream perfume industry of late and it pleases me immensely. This is a trend I can get behind.  If there's one thing we natural perfumers do well it's colored perfumes!  Now to be fair, these mainstream perfumes are artificially colored.  However, nature provides a wide spectrum of colors for the natural perfumer to paint with.  In fact, it's often difficult to create a natural perfume that isn't colored.  As a perfumer I made a conscious decision to use any essence I desired when creating my line, regardless of how its addition effected the final color of the perfume.  If I were to limit myself to using clear oils and absolutes I'd be left with only a handful of essences to work with.  I wish to expand, not reduce my palette.  This meant I would have accept that my natural perfumes were sometimes dark brown, or black or green when filtered.  

Despite the fact that I had accepted these colored perfumes, I wondered how potential customers would react.  Would consumers be less likely to purchase my Osmanthus Oolong eau de parfum because it was a dark gray color?  Would the jade tone of Tabac Citron quell sales?  My line has a distinct voice and color; perfumes so very different than the mainstream perfume industry.  Artisanal fragrances.  Perfumes made in small batches, by hand using incredibly rare, expensive natural essences that just so happen to be brightly colored.  I'm happy to report that little fuss and few comments have been made about the colors of my fragrances.  I expected the colors of the perfumes to be more off putting to the consumer than they seem to be.  Acceptance!  I have been asked on occasion if I dye my perfumes, to which I reply, "No, Mother Nature does."

As for me?  I'm drawn to the mystery of a dusky scent.  I'm tired of girly fruity floral scents.  Hygienic clear bottles of scent hold no promise for me.  Be gone era of clean, clear perfumes meant to evoke purity.  I'm a vintage perfumista at heart.  Bring on the deep, dark, richness of amber colored perfumes!  While Estee Lauder's Youth Dew may not be my favorite scent, the fascination I feel when gazing upon it's dark liquid is palpable.  Without even a sniff, Youth Dew makes it apparent that it's rich and deep and resinous.  What secrets are locked inside that dark brown nectar?  

So, along these lines I've created a quick perfume color guide.  The following botanical essences possess serious color saturation.  Adding more than a few drops will color a perfume quickly.  In you've ever wondered why or how a natural perfume obtained it's hue read on.

GREEN: lavender absolute, lavender seville absolute, green tea absolute, violet leaf absolute, tobacco absolute, mint absolute, sweet clover absolute, rooibos (red tea) absolute, fir balsam absolute, geranium absolute, rosemary and basil absolutes.

BLUE: blue tansy, chamomile

ORANGE: rose absolute, pink lotus absolute, tuberose absolute, boronia absolute, immortelle absolute.

YELLOW: genet (broom) absolute, jasmine grandiflorum absolute, saffron absolute, 

BROWN/BLACK: black tea absolute, cocoa absolute, coffee, angelica absolute, oakmoss absolute, cedarmoss, cedarwood absolute, vanilla absolute, labdanum.

Wishing you technicolor perfumed dreams.

If you have any questions about a natural fragrance or natural perfumes please contact Charna at

Friday, June 1, 2012

My First Love - JASMINE!


Providence Perfume Co. is an all natural perfume company.

I'm mad for Jasmine.  Simply infatuated.

I can't recall the first time I smelled the lush aroma of Jasmine.  I grew up in New England, a region not exactly famous for it's jasmine cultivation.  I believe my first contact with Jasmine would be as a teenager working the perfume counter at Macy's.  I went wild with smelling every perfume I could.  I sniffed every exotic gorgeously packaged mainstream perfume I had missed out on growing up in a small rural town.  The perfume counter at Macy's was glamour and glitz and sophistication.  I found myself drawn to a variety of scents and they all had one note in common: jasmine.

Now I realize what I was huffing was most likely synthetic jasmine.  It wasn't until I was a bit older that I actually smelled real jasmine absolute.  Jasmine absolute is so incredible, so creamy and full and plump; in my opinion it's aroma is unable to be wholly duplicated by aroma chemicals.  In Jean-Claude Ellena's book Perfume, the Alchemy of Scent he comprised a pared down list of essences he uses for perfumery he calls "The Collection."  The list is smaller than you might expect.  I found it interesting that along with Jasmal, Jasmolacton and Jasmonal H (synthetic jasmines) Ellena also lists Jasmin absolute and Jasmin Sambac absolute.  It's also interesting to note that Jasmine is the only aroma included in the collection in five different compilations.  From this we learn that Jasmine is IMPORTANT to perfumery and that real Jasmine absolute is UNDUPLICATABLE.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself working for Aveda surrounded by real Jasmine.  I was in jasmine heaven.  During this time I found that jasmine possesses universal appeal.  While many customers wrinkled their noses at the scent of patchouli and even rose, they smiled when sniffing the sweet aroma of jasmine.  I learned my lesson well.  Even now, when blending a custom scent for a more err  . . . challenging client I reach for the jasmine.  When all else fails, jasmine triumphs!

There is a jasmine for every preference.  Sweet jasmine, musky jasmine, dirty jasmine, filthy jasmine.  When teaching Introductory Natural Perfume classes, I'll often pass around a bottle of unlabeled jasmine grandiflorum for everyone to smell.  When I ask the class what essence they think they're sniffing many will guess correctly it's jasmine.  I'll then pass around bottles of jasmine sambac, jasmine flexile, jasmine auriculatum.  Silence.  Many haven't smelled these jasmines.  Many are surprised that jasmine can vary so wildly in aroma.  We talk of indole and jasmine.  We laugh.

- Jasmine is present in many of my perfumes.
- Jamine's beauty beckons me.
- Jasmine blends well with all essences.
- Jasmine is a team player. In perfumery jasmine is happy to take a supporting role or be a star.
- Jasmine is indispensable and important.
If you have any Jasmine absolute, go grab it and take a deep long sniff.  See what I mean?  It's just that good.

In celebration of the Natural Perfumers Guild sixth anniversary blog event, the following perfumers are participating by sharing stories of their first love.  From sandalwood to rose, be sure to check these articles out (see below.)

Visit our website to learn more about natural perfumes or contact Charna at