Monday, January 16, 2012

Joy in January

The Natural Perfumers Guild is hosting a blogathon esp. for the porr suffering people of the northern hemisphere who are currently dealing with the long, cold and grey miserable months of winter. Aprt from being cold and grey, the long nights and lack of decent sun and daylight also mean long months of misery and depression for many people.  S.A. D or "Seasonal Affective Disorder" is the technical term for these winter blues, and affects most people to some degree or another. It is thought to be related to serontonin production, a neurotransmitter which our body produces in conjunction with exposure to sunlight. So obviously, no sun, no serontonin equals SAD. So the Natural Perfumers guild thought it might be a nice idea to tap into the collective knowledge of their perfumers on how this can be combatted with the help of perfume. And this is my post on the subject. We all know that nice smells make us feel batter, but Aromatherapy can help us take this concept a few steps further...and those of use who work exclusively with naturals of course work with the essential oils used in Aromatherapy...and many of us (including yours truly) actually come from an Aromatherapy background......
One of the very first perfumes I ever made was based on an essential oil blend I used to use in Germany to stop myself from wanting to slit my wrists during the long dark miserable winters.
I used to suffer terribly from what they now call "SAD" or Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the winters in Berlin were particularly long and grey.
Each year, as soon as the days became shorter, my mood would start to darken too, and I would only begin to pick up as the days lengthened and the sun came back out of her hiding place below the equator.
When I discovered aromatherapy, I of course started to research which esential oils were good for depression, and discovered that Patchouli was one the the best and longest used for this in India. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat everything from melancholy to outright mania, and it's deep, earthy scent seems to have the immediate effect of making you feel safe and grounded...
So I started burning it in my little oil burner and to my joy found that I felt much more peaceful and even started to smile again....I experimented all that first aromatic winter with blends of different things, and found my best blend was a simple combination of patchouli with bright clear lemon!
Some years later when I started to make actual perfumes, I took a break from the complex floral formulas I was experiementing with, and started to think: Why shouldn't it be possible to combine Aromatherapy with Perfumery and create Perfumes that actually have therapeutic effects as well as smelling beautiful?
I dug out my notes on my favourite aromatherapy blends and rememberd how happy the patchouli and lemon mix had made me....the combination of the two is somehow so warm and friendlyas a scent, the lemon doing something really remarkable to patchoulis dark duskiness and the patchouli giving the short lived lemon a depth and warmth that is just yummy....but they didn't quite work together as an actual "perfume", so I decided to experieiment a bit more. After delving back into my herb books, I decided that an obvious choice would be Sandalwood, beloved the world over for it's soothing comforting effects, as well as one of the smoothest and most beautiful of all perfumery ingredients! Like Patchouli, it has a long history of being used in traditional Auyuveda for treating depression. It also happens to work seamlessly with both patchouli and lemon, and added an elegance and gentleness to the perfume which was just what was needed! I also added a touch of Tahitian lime to give it an extra twist and a few other ingredients to round off the scent, and "Happiness" was born.
I started taking it with me to the various trade fairs and cosmetics shows had stalls at, and was delighted to find that my customers liked it just as much as I did! It seemed to have an incredible unisex appeal, men and women both liked it and wore it, and you could see from the happy grin after the first sniff just how direct an effect it had on peoples moods!
People bought it, and came back and bought more, telling me they found it to be a great pick me up scent...they wore it to help them get going in the morning, as a pick me up after work, and one guy even told me it was the best cure for a hangover he had ever found, grin!
After nearly 20 years, it is still one of my most popular perfumes. It's simple yet elegant scent is refreshing, uplifting and just incredibly friendly! It's a true inisex scent, and one of those you can wear to the office without ever worrying about offending anyone...
But best of all, it simply works. Wearing it makes you feel better.

And what I am particularly proud of is that for me, "Happiness" proved once and for all what I have been saying for years: You CAN combine Aromatherapy and modern Perfumery. And create Perfumes that have a therapeutic effect, and are also GREAT perfumes!

If you'd like to try "Happiness", I'm giving away samples to the 3 most interesting or enthusiastic Australian and 2 Overseas customers who post a comment here!
(Winners will be chosen and announced on friday!)

Otherwise you can also order samples and full size bottles of "Happiness" directly from my webstore!

 Or post a comment below to win a sample!

Other Blogs writing about Joy in January:


  1. Oh, I find this fascinating! Luckily (or unlickily), I don't suffer from S.A.D., but i do suffer from unipolar depression (and have for most of my life). Back when i was 16, i decided that I needed to have some sort of calming, centering scent, and for better of for worse, settled upon vanilla. (It was a tough call between vanilla and rose, I recall.) My teddy bear is still scented with vanilla, although I have been swapping between that and lavender, and have just recently been curious about trying other natural scents.

  2. Loved your blog and the process that happened coming up with "Happiness". The perfume sounds beautiful!

  3. Ambrosia, I also have believed for years that the use of naturals can be both therapeutic and used as perfumes! Loved the blog and "Happiness" sounds delightful! Best of luck always.

  4. Wonderful post, Ambrosia. I learned a lot about you - Berlin, patchouli. My. Were you born in Berlin? I thought you were from the UK, both locales rather in the SAD domain.

  5. (I honestly can't tell if my comment went in - the comment box was looking wonky in the browser I first used - if it did, delete this, and if it didn't, feel free to modify this one to exclude this part of the comments. In any event, I'm QuoterGal at gmail, if you need to reach me...)

    This is a dee-lightful project. I lived on the east coast - upstate New York, and later Boston, MA - for 33 years, and most likely suffered from SAD for years, without knowing it. I certainly had all of the symptoms. California's bright climate drew me away from the grey, and I've lived here for over 20 years.

    Once in California, sandalwood and other fragrances helped almost immediately without my knowing it - I first worked at the (sadly now closed) Bodhi Tree bookstore, and lived for several years daily infused with the fragrances of the sandalwood, Nag Champa and other incenses they both burned & sold.

    I'd love some "Happiness" - it sounds like it would feel like my first heavenly days in California, and would help lift me from the much milder form of SAD I experience living in Los Angeles.

  6. It was very nice reading about the processes you went through creating this perfume.
    I love your site, it is beautiful.
    I would love to hear more about you in other blogs.
    I didn't know that about patchouli, i will go check it out.

  7. I suffer from SAD and I use light therapy, sounds like I should look into aromatherapy also.

  8. Hi! I live in the midwest US, just below one of the great lakes. The moisture from the lake provides my region with a condition we call *permacloud* - day after day of overcast skies, grayness & murkiness. Any relief would be welcome - *Happiness* sounds lovely, esp as I'm a big fan of patchouli. Thanks!

  9. Hi Ambrosia,
    Thank you for this timely draw! I'm in the US, I grew up in sunny California but moved to New York about 17 years ago and gradually got more and more depressed every winter. I use acupuncture, herbs, light therapy, and fragrance to cheer myself up during these S.A.D. gray months. I am very excited to try your "Happiness"! My Pisces self loves the name...I'm cheerier already!

  10. Hi Ambrosia,

    Great blog post! I really enjoyed hearing about the process for creating Happiness. Berlin really doesn't conjure images of light and happiness does it? :) Thanks for helping spread the joy.

  11. i concur!!

    i absolutely agree with the idea you can make an aroma-therapeutic and esthetically pleasing perfume! i would say anything you create with natural botanicals is going to have therapeutic benefit.

    a perfect perfumery lesson too!

    thank you for the post and the draw <3

  12. Wow~ so happy to find your blog via Anya, and Happy Herbs Soap... Patchouli is my absolute favorite! I can almost smell it blended with Sandlewood and the citrus of lemon/lime! Would love to try it! The grey/dark days of winter in the Northeast U.S surely need some "Happiness" for the senses! Thank you for sharing your story of its creation!

    Vicki, Upstate New York

  13. And on this cold grey gloomy drizzly day, the thought of "a sample of happiness" is just delightful...the phrase alone makes me smile... the description is wonderful... I love lemon and patchouli but have never thought of combining them... thank you!! and YES... any perfume made from pure, natural botanicals is going to bring their effects... perhaps if too many differing ones are used, with different/conflicting effects that would be lost...but if your intent in blending is the emotional effects as well as the aroma... what a wonderful healing experience you can create!!!

  14. I came to essential oils and the like through my interest in perfume, and then natural perfume specifically. I'm now taking an herb class, where I'm learning completely different things about the plants where many of these natural perfumery raw materials come from. I think bridging aromatherapy and natural perfumery of course can be done -- it all goes back to the plants!

    I think I used to experience SAD, primarily during rainy "winters" in Northern California. Winter has often been a "tough" time for me. I lived in Berlin one winter when I was in college, and it was in March of that year that I became clinically depressed for the first time, and that bout lasted a good 8 months. I think being in a foreign land where I didn't really speak the language was the primary stressor, but I don't know, maybe the rough winters didn't help either. I'll never know!

    Your Happiness perfume sounds awesome, I'd love to try it. I'm just coming around to patchouli in terms of scent preferences, but learning of it's history being used in Ayurvedic medicine makes me want to like it even more. Many of the things you mentioned in your post spoke to me, so thanks for being part of this blogging project!

    Amy H. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

  15. Thank you so much for sharing your story about SAD and the creation of Happiness! Its really great to read other people's experiences and how you helped overcome it! Thank you for being a part of the Joy in January project.

    With much appreciation,
    Michael S

  16. Hello Ambrosia,
    Well now that I've moved to sunny Miami that has beautiful winters from cold, dark Chicago, I don't get SAD anymore, thankfully, however one does get "sad" from time to time and your perfume sounds like a wonderful antidote for the occasional blues, or just for the fun of it! I wonder, did you put jasmine in it? I've heard jasmine is good for depression, as well as cedar and basically all of the citrus essences. Vanilla is supposed to create feelings of well-being and comfort.

    Brian Shea

  17. Light therapy has really helped me go through the cold winter months in Paris..ironically the city of Lights!Lovely post and superb initiative!

  18. Hi Ambrosia,
    I am so grateful to this Joy blogathon that allows me to discover all your stories.

    I love the way you tell your perfume stories, and your creation process.I can not stop reading all your stories about Happiness, Pan, Avalon... It is so inspiring! Now I have to smell all of them. The way you describe them, I am sure they smell marvelous!
    Yes I believe we can make great perfume only with natural : perfumes that create emotions, perfumes that makes us feel good and happy.
    Great posts! Congratulation!

  19. Thanks for the opportunity to win a sample of Happiness. To have this natural state sprayed against my heart, my wrists, my pulse points, what could be better indulged in or experienced?

  20. Happiness sounds wonderful! And I love the story of its creation. Thank you for the great blog post!

  21. Thanks for sharing your story. I am always diffusing uplifting oils in our home. To lift our spirits and to keep us healthy. I live in a house with 4 men (my husband and 3 sons) who, are somewhat open to essential oils & scents, but, they don't realize they are exposed to them daily as I diffuse or spray them in our home.

    When I am discourage or depressed, I use scent/ oils to help. I breath them in and apply them to my heart, pulse points and feet. Very effective!

  22. Ambrosia: I was just checking in - I wondered if you had your winners yet for your blog-a-thon draws?

    Since many of the bloggers handled announcing the winners differently: some posted them in a new blog and/or emailed winners, and some haven't announced yet, I wasn't sure how you were doing it. Several of the bloggers said winners had to claim by 1/21, so I was hoping to find out & not miss any claim-by date you might have. The blog-a-thon had me so pumped about natural perfumes, etc., and your "Happiness" sounded so *delicious*, I wanted to be sure not to blow it if I'd won.

    Thanks for participating, in any event - this whole blog-a-thon was very helpful & nifty.

  23. Thank you all for your patience and your interest!
    The winners of a smaple of "Happiness" each are:
    Dame Clemence
    Ahsumaker and

    can you please email me with your physical addresses?

    1. Yay - how nice; thank you so much. I emailed you at the info-store-email addy with my particulars.

      Everyone in this blog-a-thon has been so generous, it's kinda winter-blahs-vanquishing by itself. ; ]

  24. Thanks so much for participating in this blog-a-thon giveaway! I've found so many new blogs to check in on. =)

  25. I just wanted to thank you again for participating in the NPG "Joy in Janurary" project.
    I hope that my browing of your store and your web pages before and since hasn't cause offense. If it has, I deeply apologize.

  26. Hi Ambrosia, just stumbled upon your blog and love what your doing, I have always loved aromatherapy and use it almost daily in my work as a massage therapist. I would like to start blending some perfumes for myself, and have been inspired to give it a go!

    Can I ask if you ever had any formal training in perfumery, or is it something you've just picked up along the way?

  27. Thanks for taking the time to do a post! I always love reading your entries