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Ah, essential oil perfumes. Unlike conventional perfumes, these scents are generally produced without an alcohol base and are intended the lie close to the skin-- the kind of fragrance you only notice when you're very close to someone. They're subtle, but still have all of the allure of a spritz of your favorite eau de toilette.
I prefer essential oil perfumes because I'm very sensitive to a lot of synthetic fragrances. (Honestly, it's rare that a perfume doesn't give me a headache!) I also dislike how easy it is to go overboard on a conventional perfume, especially a new one. Anyone who's ever bought a new perfume and used it right before a date or a long drive, only to discover that it was way more intense than it initially let on, knows what I'm talking about.
If you're an aromatherapy devotee, essential oil perfumes may confer benefits beyond conventional fragrances. Synthetic fragrance oils may smell amazing and be able to replicate scents that aren't able to be captured by distillation, but they don't contain the same natural compounds (or offer the same benefits) as essential oils.
After trying out a bunch of different perfume oils, I have to say that my favorites are part of the selection from For Strange Women. Their products are completely natural, created with organic and wildcrafted plant essences, and I couldn't be more in love.
I picked up a set of three of their samples: French Oakmoss, Moss & Ivy, and November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest. These were chosen specifically because I prefer woody, green-smelling, relatively unisex scents. Flowery smells tend to give me a headache, and sweet, foodie smells never seem to really work with my skin's chemistry. (I'm looking at you, expensive designer perfume that somehow ending up making me smell like an ashtray.)
First, I tried their French Oakmoss. The listing describes it as dirty, dry, and leathery, and it's true in all of the best ways. It evokes the scent of a forest floor, sun-baked lichen on trees, and turned soil. While it's certainly an unusual scent, it's still very wearable-- I actually received a lot of compliments on it, and I loved the way the deep, green earthiness harmonized with my skin's chemistry. Of course, oakmoss ranks up there with lavender and vetivert on my list of the greatest scents in the world, so your mileage may vary.
Next is Moss & Ivy. While it still incorporates oakmoss into its scent, it's a lighter, "rainier" fragrance courtesy of basil and lavender notes. It evokes the scent of wet moss, rainy woods, and fresh leaves, without any flowery sweetness. The result is a very fresh perfume, ideal if you love the forest after a spring rain. This perfume's a little more versatile than French Oakmoss, and those who enjoy lighter, more "feminine" fragrances might find it easier to wear. I actually liked putting a little on right before bedtime-- it's when I usually relax and meditate, and being surrounded with the scent of fresh herbs and moss certainly didn't hurt.
Last is my favorite, November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest. Just like it says on the bottle, this evokes Moss & Ivy's autumnal counterpart-- wood, earth, warm tea, and the scent of fallen leaves. It has a woodier character than Moss & Ivy, tempered with a little more sweetness. It's deep, meditative, restful, and complex. I would have loved wearing it before bed, but I wanted to make the bottle last as long as possible! All told, it's a scent that perfectly encapsulates my favorite place during my favorite time of year. I'd smell like this all of the time if I could.
If your tastes tend less toward the green and earthy and more toward the floral, sweet, or spicy, there are plenty of other offerings that might tempt you. Northern, Midwest, and Southern Moongarden offer regionally distinct bouquets of flowers and greenery (lilac and hydrangea in the north, iris, rose, and honeysuckle in the midwest, and gardenia and jasmine in the south). Meanwhile, Bollywood's blend of rose, cardamom, sandalwood, and masala chai provide an aura of musk and spice.
Have you tried natural oil perfumes before? What are some of your favorites?