There is something very grounding and relaxing about wearing perfume oils. As opposed to the enlivening spritz of an alcohol-based perfume, the very process of massaging in a perfumed oil seems to slow us down, give us time to enjoy the simplicity of an ancient perfuming beauty ritual, and be mindful of the moment.
There are times and places for both the sudden burst of a favourite eau de parfum and the slow-living beauty routine of applying a perfume oil. In this post, I go over four ways to enjoy perfume oils; all of which complement, not compete with eaux de toilette and parfum. At Parfums Clandestins, I always envisaged a beauty and body oil line mirroring the fragrance profiles of our alcohol perfumes. Their complementarity in both scent and use has always struck me.
It is perfectly possible, as I’ve discovered in formulating The Sicily Quartet Perfume Oils, to recreate in oils the peel of notes from top to drydown base notes that a traditional eau de parfum has. There are behind-the-scenes formulating tweaks to make of course as oils are a different medium from alcohol and require a different approach; much as an artist would create different impressions of the same scene according to whether they worked in oils or watercolours.
For example, alcohol gives scent instant diffusion and radiance, depending on the perfumery ingredients deployed. But, for the main part, a perfume oil will have a slower release of fragrance notes.
The Sicily Quartet eaux de parfum have around 20-25 fragrance materials whereas their counterpart perfume oils take the key notes – the Leitmotifs – of the EDP only. More nuanced oils would be masked by the heavier carrier oil molecules and be rendered redundant. I therefore boost the key notes and add others not in the EDP in order to ensure a correspondence between the two media, but one that is also complementary.
What I love about using oils as a medium to transport fragrance is that the so-called carrier oils themselves, if chosen wisely, are incredibly beneficial materials in a fragrant cosmetic product. Alcohol is a carrier chosen to dilute and diffuse and has no skincare attributes above that. We don’t use EDPs to nourish or repair our skin, but, as I discovered, we do enjoy alcohol perfumes for 25 reasons and more! So, let’s give them their due.
However, fine botanical oils are more than carrier oils, as you can find out in my deep-dive guide on the benefits of botanical oils in body care. They impart a range of skin-friendly benefits.
But, let’s move on to four specific reasons I formulated The Sicily Quartet perfume oils for beauty and body; ones that lever on their make-up as non-volatile oils harnessing carefully chosen essential (volatile) perfuming oils. The two media can live happily together – let’s call them ‘mixed media’ with their own raison d’etre and benefits to our well-being and skincare.
4 Ways to Use Perfume Oils in your Beauty Regime
The Sicily Quartet perfume oils are sensual, eco-luxe blends of 10 botanical seed oils laced with fine essential oils to beautify, nourish, pamper and perfume your body. A future post will dive into the composition, scent profile and benefits of each. Here are four key ways to enjoy perfume oils that are common to all:
Enjoy your perfume oil as a well-being fragrance
Perfume oils take a little longer to apply. You will need to rub them lightly on your palms or finger tips to warm the carrier oils before patting or massaging them onto your skin. The act of warming, and the warmth of your body will release the perfume, but the heavier carrier oil molecules slow the dispersion of the scent.
This means that while you won’t get the same initial fragrance blast you do from alcohol perfumes, you will enjoy the scent evolving over time. The perfume will be with you longer during your day, and be a more intimate affair, rather than sillage-sharing experience. I do feel that perfume oils have an aromatherapy effect and don’t need reapplying as alcohol perfumes do. Illecito, the third of the Sicily Quartet, has a good amount of Frankincense which is considered to have a calming effect; no wonder it has been used in religious rituals since ancient times.
Apply perfume oils as a high-performance serum & body oil
Perfuming oils themselves are chosen with intent and their role in skincare. For Illecito Perfume Oil, I chose frankincense, jasmine and Bourbon geranium as the key notes. The first two are known for their reparative properties. Frankincense is beneficial for mature skin, helping restore tone and even working on the visible signs of ageing, such as wrinkles. Jasmine, along with rose which features in Eresia Perfume Oil, is ideal for sensitive, dry and mature skin, and also has a clarifying effect balancing even oily skin. Geranium plays a similar role in dry or mature skincare.
The essential oils do more than perfume and the chosen carrier oils do more than carry the scent. The 10 botanical seeds oils include borage, camellia, rosehip and pomegranate and a few truly uncommon ones like lemon kernal oil. Each oil has a role in skincare from nourishing and acting to reduce the skin’s water loss (trans-epidermal water loss – TEWL) to working on hyperpigmentation, fine lines and thread veins and more.
As you can see, a perfume oil blend that is more than a few nice but random essential oils in a common carrier like fractionated coconut can work very well as a high-performance skin serum. Sicily Quartet Perfume Oils are designed to be used on sensitive, exposed areas like decolletage and neck as well of course shoulder, torso and thighs. Each oil works for different areas of the body with perfume oils chosen for their efficacy on mitigating specific skin issues.
Layer perfume oils with other scents
This application of perfume body oils is one of my favourite as it is also a creative way to use them. Going back to our mixed media analogy, just think about the possibilities of using a perfume oil with another, or using it in conjunction with an eau de parfum.
You can have fun exploring the myriad combinations. As perfume oils generally have far fewer fragrance oils, for both practical and safety reasons (use of perfume on a larger area of the body – ie not just pulse points – means a lower percentage of fragrance to skincare carrier), you can happily trial out layering with an EdP of choice and arrive at a combination that’s exciting and unexpected.
Give it a try! Layering of fragrance has been in vogue quite some time. In fact, one reason The Sicily Quartet has both alcohol and oil versions is to give you the chance to explore fragrance.
Use your perfume oil as a moisturiser under Eaux de Parfum/Toilette
This is a bit like layering but to aid the longevity of the alcohol perfume. If you moisturise your skin just out of the shower when it is still partly damp, and later apply your favourite fragrance, the alcohol scent molecules will be anchored in your botanical oil moisturiser and be less volatile. The oil will slow the EDPs release.
You can use the same scent or opt for a complementary one (as in 3 above). It is not only for marketing reasons that big perfume houses create body care lines. Remember, if you choose a moisturiser (oil or emulsion version) of a favourite fragrance, the scent profile will have been adapted to suit the new carrier, as we mentioned up top.
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