Perfume and Essential Oils
I believe that perfume is developing into somewhat of a dead end. Really good perfumes are far too expensive for most people, and almost all affordable perfumes are composed of mainly synthetic compounds.
On the other hand we have essential oils which usually are too simple and widespread to be used as a perfume.
Additionally, many of the essential oils and essential oil sets are imported from China at very low prices and re-sold for still relatively low prices.
Because most people don't understand that 10ml of any essential oil will usually last them for years. So in common understanding, even paying 10€ for 10ml is too expensive. That's why low quality oils, often mixed with nature-identical but nonetheless synthetic chemicals, are so abundant.
This is where I see our way forward:
Instead of spending hundreds of Euros on expensive niche perfumes or succumbing to unpleasant cheap fragrances, let's take a look at some of perfumery's more precious raw materials:
The first that comes to my mind has been used for more than 4000 years and is still highly valued in the industry. It can be directly applied to the skin without any toxic effects – in fact it has only positive effects on the skin and even the nervous, respiratory and digestive system. Can you guess it?
We're talking about Sandalwood Oil. The problem with this oil is that the global demand is outgrowing the production capacities of our planet and that is not only depleting the soil but also pushing the price to extremes.
The current price for 1ml of purely natural Sandalwood oil starts at 30€. For those willing to spend this much money and who like the soft, woody, creamy fragrance of Sandalwood, this is not a bad option.
But there are more. Another traditional perfume ingredient that also has anti-depressant and relaxing effects on the nervous system and can be used to treat certain skin conditions is Vetiver oil.
It is extracted not from wood but from the roots of Vetiver grass which grows much faster, even regenerates soil and can be produced at a lower cost and in larger quantities. The usual price for 1ml is around 1€ and depends much on the quality and sustainability.
Moving further into the territory of affordable oils we find Cedarwood oil, which, also growing fast and abundantly, can be as cheap as 0.5€ per ml, is similarly non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing and can be used for skin-care and its positive effects on the nervous, respiratory, and circulatory system.
Coincidentally, certain types of Vetiver and Cedarwood oil mixed at a certain ratio smell quite a lot like Sandalwood oil.
So here we already have a range of differently priced ingredients that could be applied directly to the skin without any negative effects – in fact only with positive effects.
Alternatives to Alcohol
Why would we want to mix this with Ethanol which irritates the skin? In my opinion, it doesn’t get much better when you make it from organic sugar cane. It’s still alcohol on your skin.
If we want to dilute our precious ingredients so we can apply them to a larger area of skin without using all at once, why don’t we use something that’s good for our skin?
Here, again, we have multiple options, but my favourite candidates are Almond oil and Jojoba oil. Both are nourishing for the skin and have virtually no odor of their own (which alcohol, on the other hand, clearly has).
Building on the Base
Now if a woody, herbal fragrance doesn't fulfil our need for a perfume, we could simply build on top of this base, for example with floral and citric notes that will be more noticeable right after application and slowly evaporate and give way to the more woody base.
If you opt for the lower price range you could still have a perfectly skin-friendly, non-toxic, non-irritant perfume oil with a material value of just a few Euros. Add the cost of labour for producing and distributing it and you end up with a 20-40€ product that can last you for months or years.
Controlling our Cravings
Most brands pour significant amounts of money into packaging and marketing in order to sell their cheap broths and that’s where I think the problem lies. If you want to have the highest quality fragrances for an affordable price, you can’t have it fancily packaged and advertised. You have to be content with simple but practical packaging and never having heard of that brand that you’re buying from. We have to take control over our cravings, know what we want, and then go and get it – and not get what everyone makes us believe we want.