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Why I hate perfume (the common synthetic kind)

Perfume Organ at the Perfume Museum of Paris


I’m on a role…next up, the perfume industry.

Scent is one of my greatest passions and has been for some time. In my childhood, I was fascinated by the perfumes that adorned my mother’s dresser in the 70’s and 80’s – Oscar de la Renta, Chloe, L’Air du Temps. When I was old enough to buy my own perfume, I gravitated to that amazing circular smelling station at the Body Shop where it was all about the White Musk, Dewberry, and Oceanus. As I got older I went through different department store perfume stages – Red Door, Eternity, Angel, Ralph…

But now…I am SO over it.

Here’s how it happened. I started studying essential oils. When I began to experience these natural scents, I felt I had been ripped off all of those years of wearing perfume. Why had I been getting the cheap imitation of these beautiful smells when the real thing was available in essential oils? Synthetic fragrance just didn’t do it for me anymore.

As I removed synthetic fragrance from my life, I developed a sensitivity to it. Now if I’m around it, I sneeze, feel nauseous and I get a headache. This speaks volumes to me. It is toxic. There have been countless reports proving this and, like second-hand smoke, you are exposing others to something potentially harmful. I don’t want to seem like a fuddy duddy but when someone has bathed in perfume, I get a little put out and feel that they are being inconsiderate.

Synthetic perfume immediately makes me think “cheap”. Essential oils cost a considerable amount more than synthetic fragrances because they have to be grown, harvested, and carefully extracted. This is in stark contrast to petroleum being tinkered with in a lab until the scent of “fresh laundry” or “crème brulée” is achieved. Call me a scent snob.

My final gripe with the industry is the celebrity perfume. Give me a break. Do you know how long it takes to become a ‘nose’ at a perfume house? I love how starlets just waltz in and “create” their own scent. It just goes to show you how little people value the art.

All is not lost. The art of perfumery has been around for thousands of years. Just because petrochemicals took over in the last century does not mean that we have to accept these lower standards. There is an amazing movement of natural perfumers that I am confidant are going to take over this industry. They are masters. The two that I am especially amazed by are Miller Harris, Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes and Anya McCoy of Anya’s Garden. To read more about this blossoming industry and to get a list of other natural perfumers, visit The Natural Perfumer’s Guild.

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