Frequently Asked Questions About Natural Fragrance
How long do natural fragrances typically last before they "turn"?
If kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat, natural fragrance should last a minimum of one year. Some people like to keep fragrances containing citrus oils in the refrigerator to help them last. While the quality of the scent might not be as good past that loose one-year expiration date, it won't be harmful if used.
Are natural fragrances safe to apply to broken skin or mild rashes?
Nope! You should never apply essential oils to broken skin. Even though all Firn Botanical Fragrances are diluted enough to be safe for topical use, they may further irritate already unhappy skin like rashes and other wounds. (Ouch.)
What are the differences between alcohol and oil based fragrances? Is one better than the other?
Alcohol based scents are less concentrated (at a ratio of 10-15% plant matter to alcohol) and therefore diffuse better. They are less likely to stain, meaning they are ideal for spraying directly onto clothing and fibers, which helps them to last longer. Some people don’t like to use alcohol based fragrances because they can dehydrate the skin and hair or have a “burn-your-nose” alcohol smell when first applied. My experience is that the alcohol dries down quickly, within about 20 seconds.
Oil based fragrances are more concentrated (at a ratio of 15-30% plant matter to carrier oil), and therefor tend to be a bit more costly per millileter. Because oil stains, scents in this form should not be applied directly to visible fibers or clothing. However, applying them to pulse points is great, because they moisturize the skin. Remember that natural fragrance applied directly to skin will evaporate faster, due to the body’s natural heat.
Neither form is better -- it’s really a matter of personal preference!
I applied my fragrance a couple of hours ago and now I can hardly smell it. What gives?
I do everything I can to increase the longevity of blends, including using fixatives and carrier oils that help project and extend the fragrance, as well as incorporate heavy base notes when appropriate. Natural fragrance simply does not last as long as synthetic fragrance. Here's an analogy: when you put a synthetic material (like a piece of plastic) on the forest floor, it takes years to break down. When you put an organic material (like a branch or twig) on the forest floor, it could be completely decomposed within a week. The same thing happens within the micro-scale ecosystem of your skin.
Because oil is heat volatile, you can also try lightly applying natural fragrances to your hair, beard, or on the inner collar of your shirt -- this will help it last, since our skin heats up the oil and causes it to dissipate much faster. One customer said she likes to apply it to her bra straps; that way it's still close to her neck and people catch a whiff when they lean in for a hug!
My fragrance oil smells differently on me that it does on a friend. Why does that happen?
It comes down to science. Because plant based aroma molecules are more complex and multidimensional than synthetic ingredients (which are considered linear and "straight forward"... which is not a bad thing as synthetics certainly have many advantages!), natural materials can smell quite different on your skin compared to that of a friend. Variables that further influence how a scent presents itself on you include the ambient temperature, the humidity in the air, your genetic makeup, the rate at which you perspire, and the foods you ate earlier, among other factors. Alternatively, the two fragrances could smell identical on two different people, but one person may be a "super smeller" or a "nose", and the other unable to differentiate between very basic scents, let alone the very subtle nuances between the oils of two species of cedar, for example. Go figure!
This fragrance smells different on me after 20 minutes. Why did it change?
The life of a fragrance goes through an interesting evolution. Upon first application, you'll experience the brighter sharper "top notes". Top notes are the most volatile, and often include citrus, spice, and green EOs. These quickly give way to the heart of the fragrance, or "middle notes", for example, flowers. The heart will maintain its presence for some time before drying down to a base composed of deeper, richer materials like wood, vanilla, tobacco, etc. This metamorphosis is one of my favorite aspects of natural perfumery. Each fragrance tells a story as it unfolds, and the start-to-finish experience is like reading a novelette from cover to cover using your nose.