Sunday, April 12, 2009

Choosing the perfect fragrance for your creations

One of my new Saturday night things...Black Amber Lavender (a Brambleberry fragrance, available from if you're in Canada!)

I'm a fragrance junkie! I love thinking about what scents I'll include in my creations, and sometimes I'll separate a larger batch so I can play with 3 or 4 scents.

So what kind of fragrance person are you? Are you, like me, a foodie? An earthy person, like my best friend? Do you like florals or citrus? You don't have to fit into a certain category, but it does give you an idea of what to look for when you're seeking new fragrance oils.

Consider your product before choosing a fragrance oil. Is this a leave on product like a lotion or scrub, something you'll be smelling all day? A rinse off product, like a shampoo or body wash? Or a soaking product, like a bath salt or bubble bath? Some scents you want around for a while; some you just want to huff out of the bottle...I mean, enjoy for a short period of time.

Take Jewelled Citrus from Brambleberry. This is one of my regular scents, and I always make up at least one sugar scrub and one body wash for a first-thing-in-the-morning-why-am-I-awake? pick me up. Or Lemon Curd from Nature's Natural Solutions. Both of these are essential for my morning shower, but I don't know if having them on my skin all day would work for me.

For something I'm going to be smelling all day, like a leave in conditioner or a body lotion, I want to choose something not so strong with some good low notes to it, like oatmeal, milk & honey (which has quite the marzipan-y aspect to it, something I love!!!) Something vanilla-y is always good for something you're going to smell all day. (My new favourite hand lotion fragrance is a blend created by Wanda we're calling key lime pie - 3 parts key lime, 1 part vanilla! Gorgeous!)

I love Wedding Cake from Aquarius - I think this might be my signature scent, all icing sugar and vanilla - and it's one I can put in anything leave on or rinse off. (Every time I use this scent, my lovely Blondie dog insists on licking my arm until it's gone. I guess it tastes good as well!)

Having said all of this, if you want to have a chocolate coconut hair conditioner, then make it! If you want a fruity foot lotion, go for it! Really there are only three rules in fragrancing your creations - how much to use, polar vs. non-polar (for surfactant based systems), and water based vs. oil based fragrances.

Of course, you have to consider who is going to be using your products and what kind of product you've made. If you have a scent sensitive friend, then using 0.5% of a light fragrance oil - clover & aloe or rice, flower & shea - might be a fine idea (if you're going to use scents in the first place). If you have someone (like me) who really likes scents, then 1% in a leave on product and 2% in a soaking product is just fine.

This is really only relevant for surfactant systems. If you're picky about having a clear body wash or bubble bath, then choose only polar fragrances. If you don't care, choose what you like! (Please see my post from March 6, 2009, for more information!)

I have only found water based fragrance oils at Voyageur Soap & Candle, but they are very useful. If you are using them in a perfume spray, you don't need to worry about emulsifying the fragrance oil with poly 20 (often a 1:1 ratio, but could be more!) And you don't need to worry about polar vs. non-polar with water based fragrances. If you are going to be making tons of perfume or pet sprays or want to ensure your surfactant systems are clear, then water based fragrances might be for you. Otherwise, just emulsify your fragrance oils with polysorbate 20 and accept the possible cloudiness!

So go, play with fragrance!


Rick said...

Nice post! For me, I enjoy the fruity/citrus as well as the dark, spicy types of colognes (issey miyake, john varvatos) for example. Cheers!

Shannon Marie said...

I'm finding that fragrance makes all the difference in the end experience of a product. When I started I used lavendar essential oil in everything because it was "natural?" (I had to refresh my understanding of chemistry a little to become more open minded to fragrance oils). Now when I open my creations from a couple months ago I cringe. Lavendar overload! Not to mention the wonderful lotion that has the perfect skin feel but smells like hummus from the sesame oil I used. I still like lavendar, but not in a lotion or leave-in. Instead I like Sunny Herb Garden from Brambleberry, orange essential oil (in moderation). I'm ordering a few more scents to try including oatmeal and honey!

KMY said...

just an FYI you can find water-based fragrances at I've purchased all of them and love them!

KMY said...

you can buy water-based fragrances at