Thursday, April 22, 2010

Orange tree...patron saint of perfumers!

Today I'm going to share my experiences with the varied and delightful extracts the citrus trees gives particular the orange tree. It's one of the most versatile of all Scent sources, and gives us a collection of amazingly different scents too!
It provides us with:

-Orange essential oil from the peel
-Orange juice extract 
-Bergamot from Bitter Orange 
-Orange flower absolute from the flowers
-Neroli steam destilled from the flowers
-Petigrain from the green twigs of Bitter Orange

Then of course there's also the huge variety of different citrus oils...but I think they are better handled in a seperate blog!

So let's start with Orange essential oil.
It's a remarkably simple oil to extract, being made by cold pressing the peel of the orange. It doesn't keep terribly well, like all citrus oils and will lose it's scent intensity as it oxidises. (This process doesn't actually render the oil "off" or dangerous to use contrary to some articles, but it does weaken it's odour). It, again like all other citrus oils, is best kept in the fridge.  It is also photo-toxic, which means it intensifies the way skin reacts to sunlight, so it's not a good idea to smother yourself in orange oil if you are heading to the beach! Whether or not this applies to it's use in perfume is one of the many things independent perfumers argue about. The lumbering industry watchdog IFRA has managed to instill such fear in the perfume industry over the subject that you will not find ANY real orange oil in conventional scented products.
Me personally, having peeled and eaten oranges at the beach, think it's all a bit ridiculous. I wouldn't add it in large quantities to a bronzing lotion, but beyond that.....there are special "non-photo toxic" version offered by some of the refiners, but the scent just isn't the same....
This joyous sweet and tangy oil is one of the best ingredients to warm and liven up a perfume. It adds life and zest to any blend and brings out happy notes in bases like Patchouli and Vetiver. It's yummy sweet tangy quanlity gives such sunny magic to any blend...As I said before, it really brings life and lift to all the base notes...and if you pair it up (in hint amounts) to florals such as jasmine and rose, you bring out a warm, zingy, playful side to them that is just lovely......
I'm a bit of a citrus nut and have used them in numerous perfumes over the years...but probably the best example of how orange brings life and joy to a blend is my "Love Potion" perfume. Here you have a deep, succulent blood orange oil combined with musky jasmine and sexy vetiver....and the combo gives it a "wow" factor and an amazing sense of "alive" that makes the perfume live up to it's name!

Orange Juice Extract is a new addition to the perfumers pallette. It is a concentrated extract created from the actual juice itself, and brings a lovely fresh fruity flavour to blends. It's not as strong as the oil from the peel and quite astringent, but a nice new toy to play with!

Bergamot is also a cold pressed oil, this time from the bitter orange. It has a softer, sweeter scent totally different from the warm fruitiness of it's cousin. It is a major ingredient in traditional eau de cologne and is also used as a flavouring in earl grey tea!  It has something a bit anal and very refined about it and it always makes me think of English Afternoon tea, with her Ladyship sitting on a perfect english lawn, sipping tea from delicate china cups.... it's a traditional ingredient in eau de cologne and often appears in mens scents. Though like sweet orange oil, IFRA has chased it out of modern perfumery with a vengeance.

OK, and from there we move on to the more mysterious side of Orange: the flowers!
Every year when my orange tree flowers I spend hours out in the garden with my nose buried in the blossoms. I collect the petals as they fall from the tree and fill bowls of them that waft their beautiful scent through the house. The bees go absolutly wild, buzzing in ecstatic frenzy as they wriggle around, collecting nectar and pollen, obviously totally intoxicated by the scent. And this is of course exactly what it is designed to do! Flower scents are Mother Natures herbal aphrodisiacs, desinged just entice and hypnotize the insects into taking part in their sexual dance of reproduction!
Orange flower in particular has a musky depth combined with an airy lightness that always reminds me of images of the Faery Queen. It is an entirely otherworldly scent, truly magical.
There are two different extracts of Orange flower available to perfumers, and they to me are quite different:

Orange Flower Absolute is extracted with solvents which are then evaporated off, so you end up with a conentrated version of the aroma. It is deep and musky, with a caramel like sweetness to it along with yummy green notes. It's quite a dominant scent, a definite middle note which will tend to take over a scent unless you use it in small quantities. I've used it in a number of custom design perfumes for clients, including one of my proudest achievements, "Faerie" which I designed for Australian artist Helen Wells. Here, it's Faerie like quality was just what was needed to capture the fey quality of Helen herself. (I'll be blogging more about the creative journey of this scent in future weeks. Helen has promised to write about the story from her perspective, which should make great reading!)
I have a variety of different Orange Flower absolutes here, all of which are different and have varying degrees of muskiness, warmth and lightness, and a delightful Orange Water absolute from Eden Botanicals which has a lightness to it as well as an almost lotus like watery quality...yummy!

Neroli is also made from orange flowers, but it's obtained by steam extraction. And this seems to bring out a far lighter side of the blossom. It leaves behind the middle musk notes and concentrates the heady, bright slightly tangy greeness of it.
Neroil has been used by perfumers for centuries. Along with Rose, it is probably the most famous of ingredients of traditional Italian and French perfumes of the past centuries. I have countless old recipes that use neroli, particularly traditional eau de colognes where it's uplifting freshness adds a delightful feminine touch to a blend. My absolute favourite is one from Butch from Anatolian Treasures. It is soft and clear and totally enchanting and lacks the slightly astringent note some other Nerolis have.
In any more concentrated perfumes however, it becomes and interesting and at times challenging. It has a very dominant, almost eukalypt like top note to it that I find tends to ride above anything else you add it to.
I have one perfume that has been sitting on my blends in progress shelf now for 2 years. It fascinates me because it is so multilayered. I was originally trying to create a lovely French Flower Garden in Spring scent, and Neroli seemed to obvious choice as a central note. But it insisted on dominating the scent and overriding the gentler rose and other floral notes I wanted to have in the forefront to such an extent that I eventually took it out of the mix. Only to discover that the previous amazing tenacity I had achieved suddenly dissapeared! For some reason, Neroli seems to attach itself to the midle and base notes of a scent and change them, both in scent and also in tenacity, which is something I have never found in a topnote before!
So now I have this blend sitting there waiting for me to find a name and place for it. It's really multi layered, which is part of the problem. A good perfume has a continuity to it from the first sniff to the remaining base you end up with on your skin after an hour or so...and this one just refuses to conform! It changes so much from head note to base that I just don't know what to do with it, delightful as it is......

And finally there's Petigrain.
I like Petigrain. I have a large bottle of a particularly fine one sitting on my shelf that I sniff regularly. It refreshes me and clears my head when I'm getting foggy....and again, it's a lovely ingredient for eau de colognes.
It has an interesting graphite pencil note to it that fascinates me and I'm pretty sure is one of the main ingredients in "Grey Flannel", that distinguished mens cologne I used to wear as a teenager.
But it's also not easy to work with. The graphite note combined with it's astringent green clarity make it the coolest of the Orange scents. Like Neroil, it doesn't combine and "play nice" with other ingredients, so unless you are happy for a dominant astringent top note, it ain't gonna work.

There's also other combination desitllations of flowers and twigs, such as "petigrain sur fleur", and destilations from the flowers of various other citrus tree, and I'm sure some of you perfumers out there are going to pop up to remind me about your particular favourite which I haven't covered!
So please feel free to add your experiences to the comment section!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Love Affair with Vetiver-the Perfumes

My ongoing love affair with Vetiver has led to the creation of 3 perfumes (so far!).
They are all very different, which just goes to show how many different facets there are to this wonderful oil...

Vetiver and Sex
The first Vetiver perfume I ever created was the now infamous "Pan" more than 15 years ago....
Pan is the mythical god of Nature, Wild, passionate and as animalistic as they come. Pan embodies everything that is indiscriminately male and, well, pheromonal. It is Pan's scent that drives women wild in the old stories, and so I had set out to recreate this mythical Scent of the Wild...and what better element to start with than the Sexy Vetiver?
I chose the deepest, darkest, muskiest Vetiver I could find, and combined it with other musky basenotes like Patchouli and Woods...and from there added a range of other forest and heb notes, careful to stick to dry, tangy and green notes, with not a touch of floral or sweetness anywhere...Oregano, thyme, rosemary...The end result was a deep. dry musk with a touch of green, foresty earth and the fresh herbs of the greek hills where Pan originally comes from. Somehow the combination of ingredients seems to have added to Vetiver's notorious aphrodisiac effect, and given it a real, testosterone boost to rival the pheromones of any stag in season. Which has given the perfume almost cult status in some circles over here in Oz. Brut eat your heart out!

Vetiver & Love
Next in the story came "Love Potion". I wanted to play with the more emotional side of Vetiver, the side that feeds the heart, and lends the wearer strength....I wanted to create something that worked as an aphrodisiac, but also gladdened the heart and warmed the spirit...something to add energy and spice to the depth and strength of Vetiver...
So here I added jasmine, the Queen of Love oils....the combination of Jasmine and Vetiver is a marriage made in heavan. Vetiver deepens jasmines sultry muskiness, while jasmine in turn lifst Vetivers depth and gives it a lovely heart note to dance with....add to this a good doce of spice and a tangy blood orange topping, and you have an exceptionally lovely oriental blend that has real depth thanks to the beautiful Vetiver....Vetiver in Love!

Distinguished Vetiver
The third chapter of my Vetiver Obsession is "Sense of Honour". This was a work of Love dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, which I finished last year.
Here I was working with the sense of strength and security that Vetiver can has such a deep, comforting earthiness that you can feel like you are wrapped in a big bear hug where nothing can harm you...and this is exactly how my grandfather made me feel when I was a child.
my Grandfather was one of those honourable country gentleman, a citrus farmer with a deep love of the Australian Land he lived and worked on, so here I used a more elegant, gentle version of the fresh tree and citrus notes I had used in both "Pan" and "Love Potion". Instead of sultry jasmine, and zesty blood-orange, I used the sublte freshness of green mandarin and grapefruit to lift the depth of the Vetiver. And broadened it's lovely base notes with some elegant Red Cedar and other woods. The clarity of spruce, some green leafy nuances, and the Vetiver now becomes a beautifully elegant, natural cologne....

All 3 of the perfumes are so different....each showing a different side of Vetiver, from pure sexual and wild, to emotionally loving and enticing, to perveying a sense of protectiveness, honour and security....
It's such a fascinating ingredient, which I guess explains why so many other perfumers before me have created perfumes centred around it's beauty...

I'm currently working on yet another Vetiver...a kind of cross between "Pan" and "Sense of Honour"...a modern, smokey cologne with a more definite grapefruit topnote. I made a version of this as a custom cologne for a young male client who wanted something updated yet elegant that he could wear in the boardroom...and I had so much fun with it I got lost in a smokey, leather based version of it.....we'll there a market for yet another Vetiver version i wonder? I may just have to keep this one for myself....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Love affair with Vetiver

Today I'm going to write about Vetiver. I've written about Vetiver before, it my regular magazine column on herbs and on my perfume website, but I thought it would be nice to look at it a bit more from a perfumers perspective.

It's an amazingly useful plant, as well as a delightful oil, used for it's deep roots and incredible hardiness in all kinds of envirmments to preserve our precious topsoil, as well as clean water...
But for those of you who want to hear more about it's use in Perfumes, here goes!
In case anyone hasn't noticed: I LOVE Vetiver!
Of all the various oils on my shelves, this deep musky oil is the one that has been tantilizing me the most for the past year. I've used various forms of vetiver in 3 of my perfumes so far and I'm working on another one at present...And the reason for this is that it is one of the perfect base notes in my mind.
Worker harvesting Vetiver Grass in India  
It has a deep, woody muskiness, that acts like a kind of cradle for other scents. It gives them depth and character, and gives a perfume a robust structure that holds everything else together.

It doesn't work with everything of course. Vetiver has a very rustic character. It's a bit like a hug from a huge, hairy mountain man, surrounding you in it's rooty pheromone laden depth, amking you feel safe, horny and happy while at the same time reminding you that it's a wild and dangerous world out there in the wilderness....Of the many yummy basenotes there are to work with, each with their own dark depth to them, Vetiver to me it is the bikey outlaw. It has a rawness totally unlike it's smoother cousin Patchouli. And a many layerdness that can't be followed by the straightlaced cedarwood.
But enough of the gushing, let's have a look at a few of the different types of Vetiver available to us perfumers:
They differ mainly in the area they are grown in, where differing soil and enviroment combine with alterations in species to give us quite different aroma characters. Then there is also differences in extraction methods too.
The oil we know as Vetiver is made from the root of the grass vetiveria zizanioides, usually by steam distillation, theough I have also seen it as an absolute, extracted with solvents.

I've got four distincly different types of Vetiver sitting on my workbench this morning.
Indonesian, Haitian, Javanese and Indian Rhus Khus. All of them have their own very distinct characteristics, not unlike the cultures of the countries they grow it the soil and the weather that influences the human culture too? And if so, can we use the infigenous perfumery plants as a guide to the nature of the people I wonder....hmmm....might look at that for a future blog.....

Indonesian Vetiver is the lightest of the four. It has a more woody quality to it, with a slight lead pencil and tobacco note that is very charming. To me this is the most contained of the Vetivers, and reminds me somewhat of cedarwood, particularly red cedar. It is light yellowy-brown in colour, and thick and slow to drip like all's the more gentile of the vetivers, and would lend itself more readily to floral bases than the others....This is the distinguished English Gentlemans Vetiver, refined and somewhat contained. It's depth lends strength to a perfume in a sopihisticated and understated way that reminds you of many of the classic mens Vetiver Colognes.

Haitian Vetiver is a far more lively thing. The sexy woody musk comes with a distinctly fruity overtone here, and you can almost sense a dance in it's step. It has a fresh touch, along with the slight graphiote pencil note, and a much deeper muskiness to it as well. This one plays happily with other fruit notes and gives you a warmer tone to the perfume in general. It is a deeper amber than the Indonesian version, and you get a real sense of Earthy Forest here, along with just a touch of fresh leaves in the background.

Vetiver Java is my greatest love. I have a precious stock of aged Javanese Vetiver which gives me goosebumps every time I open it. Now this one is the darkest brown of them all, thick, almost gluggy and SEXY to the max! Here to me is where Vetivers legendary appeal as an aphrodisiac truly comes into play!
When I smell Javanese Etiver, I see Orang Utans swinging through the forests (and if my georgraphy is mixed up here, please don't correct me!)
This Vetiver has the strongest of all animal funk to it. It's sexy, deep and musky, and has a true pheromone hit to it like a sweaty football player fresh off the field after a big win!
It also has lovely caramel and coffee overtones in it, making it a true gourmand base note. Now Geographically, Java is part of I do wonder if the vetiver I have is from a particular plantation, or whether it is merely extracted differently. It reminds me of the difference in Patchouli types. The traditional way to extract patchouli includes the use of copper vessels, and the resultant patchouli is dark brown and earthy....some years ago some clever person thought up a new extraction method under pressure useing nice clean steel aparatus, and the resultant patchouli oil, while delightfully clear and clean, lacked the deep earthy characteristics of it's more primitive relative. 

And then there's Rhus Khus. This Vetiver is the interesting foreign cousin in the clan. Made in India useing the aforementioned copper vessels, it has an interesting greeny colour instead of the more common browns, and a scent as different as it's colour. It has indeed green notes and the destinct animal funk of the java vetiver is replaced by an almost water like softness. The deep earthiness is still their, but it has an almost spiritual touch to it. Here, the leafy side that appeared in the Haitian Vetiver, is stronger and newer. It's almost as if the earthiness itself has been refined.

What they all have in common, is their capability to impart a sense of strength and security to the wearer. In traditional Indian Ayurdeda, Vetiver is used to treat depression and anxiety, and modern Aromatherapy uses it for the same things.
At the same time, it is a legendary aphrodesiac! But then, Strength and security are very attractive's the big strong males that tend to ooze sex appeal after all.....
they give strength to a perfume blend, depth and character, and a lovely anchor for citrus an fruity topnotes. As I mentioned in my blog on natural musks,  vetiver features in more mens perfumes than any other natural note.

In my own perfumes, I've used many different aspects of Vetiver.
But I'll write more about that in the next installment: "Love Affair with Vetiver -The Perfumes"

Have a look at for more about vetivers incredible contribution to soil conservation

And at Anya McCoy's blog about the role of soil micobes  in the creation of the distinctive Vetiver oil which is a really interesting read for those of you who want to know more!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Eco Revolution?

Eco seems to be the new trend in perfumery. Everywhere you look there is Eco" this, "aromatherapy" that on everything from body sprays to bath gels. And most of it is fake.
Apart from a few honourable players like Weleda and the Australian skin care company Jurlique, I don't think I can name a single worldwide brand that actually has more than a token touch of some kind of essential oil in it's ingredient list. Yet many if not most of them are tossing the "natural, ecological aromatherapy" catch phrase around as a hook to the worlds new enviromantal concious buyer.

The resons for this are many fold:

The first and most blatant one is price. I was recently contacted by a wheeler and dealer in the cosmetic industy who wanted to pick my brain about the viability of his newest project. A range of  "household scent products" from perfumes to candles and air fresheners, that would be "excellent quality, top of the range natural" (whenever possible of course) "organic fragrance products that would sell at the middle to lower cost range as a cheaper alternative to ranges like Jo Malone for the urban proffesional" etc etc...
Now apart from having the nice gentleman try and pick my brains for free, what fascinated me was the proposed maximum cost for the scent base for the perfumes: $70 a kilo!

This means that ingredient cost of each bottle of perfume (assuming around 10% of each perfume would be made up of the actual scent base) would be 70 cents!

Now those of you who have bought essential oils know that this is just laughable.
Beyond useing straight eukalyptus oil, there is no way of doing this.
A beautiful natural perfume contains things like Rose absolute and good quality aged patchouli oil...and you are looking at closer to thousands per kilo than the mere $70 this guy was planning on.
When I pointed this out to him (OK, so I was naiv enough to think that he might actually intend to hire me to create the natural scent base), he said that this price was one that had been agreed on after consultation with some of the best and most experienced perfume consultants in the business (why was he talking to me again???) and that he himself had been part of the planning committe of a number of high end projects etc etc..
So there we have it. Out there in the world of the big conglomerates, the actual price of a perfume is based purely on the other costs. Planning, advertising, distributing etc. The actual ingredients themselves are an afterthought, dictated by the tiny bit of budget left over for them. And natural ingredients are expensive.

The scond reason is lack of actual knowledge and understanding of natural perfumery.
If you look closely at the ingredients lists of all these hundreds of "Aromatherapy" body products you find in the average drugstore, those that actuallly contain real essential oils, seem to have been put together totally haphaverdly by someone blindly picking from a catalogue of oils! They rarely have any kind of logic to their actual use in the products. And at times, the oils would actually be contraindicated for their proposed use -if of course they were included in any quantities above the mere molecular level., which they aren't.
The average "Aromatherapy" body lotion will have as ingredients (in decending order of percentages) a lovely lotion base of petroleum based "mositurizers", a team of different chemical surfacants, straight water itself, a variety of artifical preservatives, ARTIFICIAL FRAGRANCES and as a kind of afterthough a few random essential oils or herbal extracts.
What you smell when you open the bottle is the artificial fragrance. which may or may not mimic the scent of the essential oils at the bottom of the ingredient list.

Here's an example for you, from a well known American company from their so called "Aromatherapy " range:

Body Lotion
Sleep - Warm Milk & Honey
"Good night. Cinnamon essential oil is comforting. Clove essential oil is calming. This ultra-creamy body lotion keeps skin soft and moisturized, while an aromatherapy blend of essential oils evokes the comfort of warm milk and honey so you can get a good night's sleep. In addition, natural soybean oil nourishes and moisturizes, and glycerin attracts moisture, so skin is beautifully hydrated. "
  • Breathe deeply for best results
  • Never tested on animals
  • Natural ingredients may cause color variations

For starters these people don't have an actual ingredient list online for any of their products. But what they do tell us is interesting. Firstly, there is no mention of actual milk or honey being used in any form in the lotion. And yet it smells strongly of both of these! So for starters, we KNOW that the fragrance has to be artificial! The "aromatherapy" ingredients they do have in the lotion are Clove and Cinnamon.
Now neither of these oils is renowned for helping anyone sleep better.
Cinnamon is warming, antiseptic and invigorating. It's a great oil for people feeling the cold and strongly stimulating to the digestive organs. It is also used in herbal form to help balance blood sugar levels....but I don't think this is what they had in mind for a "Sleep" themed body lotion!
Clove is an even more interesting choice: It's distinctive odour sends alarm bells ringing in police dogs at airports when Indonesian travellers bring in their renowned clove scented ciggarettes, and you can also find it in a number of prorpeity pain relief ointments. It's a powerful nerve numbing agent, and has been used for centuries to relieve aching teeth.....but a soothing sleepy time scent? I think not.
And this company is by no means one of the worst. They do at least include a few natural ingredients, such as the soy bean oil they have added to the overall chemical base of their lotions. There are companies out there making far broader claims while useing completely artificial ingredients!

Now apart from all of this being decietful, amoral and downright un-ethical, it also leaves those of us who are actually making REAL natural perfumes and cosmetics with a huge problem.

The average consumer out there believes what advertising tells them. And they are also used to paying a specific price for their beauty care products. The market is dominated by a small handful of large cosmetic conglomerates, who can pretty dominate it by power of their advertising dollars. So what they sell is what people buy.

Depressing innit?!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Search for the ultimate Musk

Like many of you, I love musk.
Of all the Scents in the world, musks are the sexiest. A good musk creates a feeling of desire, warmth and general yumminess both in the wearer and the person smelling you!
After all, they were designed as mother nature's ultimate attractants and sex stimulants for us mammals!
My teenage years were dominated by yardleys "musk oil", musk deodorant sprays and little bottles of various musk perfume oils from Indian clothing stores.
Trouble was they were all artificial.
Natural musk comes from animal sources such as civet cats and the musk deer's anal glands, and harvesting this poor animals glands is an ecological and moral no no.
Which is why (along with price of course!) modern chemistry came up with synthetic musks to take their place. Now the problem with this is that they are not very healthy chemicals. Like most synthetic scent molecules, they tend not to break down. Which makes them lovely and stable in body lotions and deodorants, but creates a real problem once they are absorbed by our bodies. Musk chemicals in particular tend to latch on to hormone receptors in our bodies...and since they don't break down, they tend to stay there and go on stimulating, and stimulating....they also tend to collect in our livers as, not being designed to be part of the bodies biochemistry system, we simply have no way of getting rid of them or breaking them down!
And this is probably the reason why synthetic musks are suspected of contributing to or even causing cancer, in particular breast and ovarian cancer.
The research on this has been alarming enough that a number of governments have begun banning particularly the older musk chemicals, and chemistry labs worldwide are rushing to try and develop alternative and possibly safer musks to replace the ones we now know are so dangerous.

But there is another alternative: Naturals.
Now since I love musk so much, creating the ultimate natural musk perfumes from botanical sources has become a bit of an obsession. I have a large collection of deep base note musky oils and absolutes, and I have been experiementing for quite some time with them...
Mother Nature seems to love creating musky can find them in roots and woods and particularly in tree resins.
They all tend to be especially musky once applied to your skin...there's something about our own body chemistry that seems to bring out the animalistic note in all of them.
One of my current favourites is Ambrette Seed. This strange essence is made from the crushed seeds of an Indian tree. I originally came accross it many years ago, but had dismissed it after obtaining a small quantity, as it's slightly nutty, buttery scent in the bottle didn't seem at all musk like to me. But when I started seriosuly researching musk notes, I pulled it out again and applied some to the inside of my wrist...and 15 minutes later was astounded to find that it had developed into a sweet, deep musky scent that was sooo animally and, well musky that I was totally overwhelmed! I spent the rest of the afternoon sniffing my wrist and making up test combination with this new found wonder musk ingredient! And it really drove home that you ALWAYS have to try a scent on your actual skin to get it's full effect!
Vetiver is another great musk note to play with. It is renowned for it's grounding, aphrodesiac effects and has a deep, incredibly sexy and masculine velvet to it that I keep coming back to. It's been one of the great favourites in mens Colognes for centuries, and there are more men's scents with "Vetiver" in their name than any other perfumery ingredient! And for good reason!
Then there's Sandalwood, a lighter and more playful but incredibly beautiful oil, that has a smooth musky undertone to it that gets deeper with age. (which is why sandalwood is one of the essential oils that actually get better as they does vetiver for that matter. Must be some particular part of their biochemistry that evolves into the muskier notes as it ages...
Vanilla too has a musky component to it, as does Tonka Bean and the other great base note: Patchouli!
These are all very sweet notes too, which makes them good if you want a sweet musk scent, but not good if you are aiming at a more masculine musk.
All of the tree resins are musky. Frankincense, Myrrh, Labdanum all share a mesmerizing musk along with their magical incense like properties.....
What all of these have in common is that they are used in Aromatherapy to counteract Fear and panic.
Their soothing base note scents all make you feel safe and comforted, which is a bloody good starting point for any kind of sexual interaction in my minds!
And then of course there's the mystical Oud!  Distilled mouldy tree wood (a very special mould and a very special tree species of course)  to be exact.....and about as famousan aphrodesiac in the arab world as rhino horn and snake wine and all those other wierd concoctions men will imbibe in the hope of growing their potency....Good quanlity Oud will fetch a higher price in weight than Gold.

Interstingly, most of the flower absolutes have a strong musk component to them too. Damask Rose has an incredibly strong musk note in it's base, surrounded by the sweet and freshly tangy notes that rise to the top when you first smell it. Try it on your skin, and see if you can find the musk in the base after 15 minutes or so! We all pay so much attention to the beautiful heart and top notes that the underlying base goes undetected...though our bidies still react to it. Rose too, is known as an aphrodisiac!
Then of course there's the ultimate musk flower: Jasmine Sambac!  The Queen of the SExual Flowers, she gives as a musk to rival deer, civet and all the musk creation of modern day chemistry. A depth and many layered magic that no white coat perfumer could ever hope to rival!

It's been a musky day....I still haven't found my "perfect" musk recipe...I do have an ever growing number of musk accords sitting on my shelves quietly working their magic in ageing I'll keep you posted!

I think I'd better put away all my bottles and go and find a nice fresh pepermint tea to clear my fuzzy warm senses again