Ah, the glorious smell of fragrance. It can take us back to years past or bring on hopes of attracting a forever love.
But what many people don’t realise is that most mainstream marketed fragrances (perfume, cologne, deodorants etc) are nothing more than toxic concoctions, luring consumers in with synthetic aromas designed to mimic the pleasurable scents found in nature.
These chemicals, when sprayed onto the skin, enter the blood stream and disrupt the natural functioning of the body — and long term potentially manifesting as dis-eases such as cancer.
Add to that animal cruelty, with a great deal of designer (and otherwise) perfumes tried and tested on unwitting animals trapped in laboratory cages. The facts certainly take the gloss of an oft-thought of glam industry (for a list of companies that do test on animals, click here).
Yet, not all companies are cutting corners and resorting to cruelty in the name of a great-smelling scent.
Liz Cook, founder of One Seed natural perfume, is a boutique perfumer who relies only on nature for her natural perfume collection. With names such as Courage, Freedom, Grace and Hope, the range is gathering a loyal following of beauty lovers who want to smell pretty without forsaking their health.
I caught up with the talented Aussie to find out more…
What’s the difference between One Seed natural perfume and those we’d find at the local department store?
One Seed is a natural perfume line, created in small batches from completely natural ingredients; mainstream brands use an almost entirely synthetic formula. We use no synthetics or animal ingredients (except beeswax and honey in some fragrances) at all.
A natural perfume is, by nature, deeper, richer and more complex, with subtle nuances that mainstream fragrances don’t have. Our perfume is more intimate and lingers in your personal space, and is not overpowering. You’ll also notice that our perfume evolves on your skin over time, slowly unfolding to reveal a new layer of the story.
We use traditional perfumery methods to create our fragrances, and blend and bottle each by hand. We approach perfumery as an art, rather than as a science, and aim to create fragrances with a story.
What sort of ingredients make up a mainstream fragrance? How can these be detrimental to our health?
Mainstream fragrances contain a cocktail of potentially toxic ingredients, from denatured alcohol to synthetically produced fragrance, UV filters, preservatives, plasticisers to fix the fragrance to the skin, and many others. Unfortunately, price is no indicator of what percentage of toxic ingredients may be in the fragrance, and both the cheap knock-offs and high-end or boutique fragrances contain very similar ingredients.
Some of these ingredients may have immediate effects on your body, with symptoms such as itching, sneezing, headache, asthma, and dermatitis, and others have accumulative effects and have been linked to sperm damage, birth defects, hormonal disruption, some cancers and more. There are also many ingredients being used which have not been assessed for their safety. And many of these chemicals have been detected in human body fat and breast milk.
What ingredients do we need to look out for — those that can be most harmful to our health?
There are so many of them it’s hard to make a list! The biggest issues is that up to 50 percent of the ingredients in those fragrances will not be listed on the packaging. The only way to avoid these ingredients without sacrificing the pleasure of a beautiful scent is to choose a fragrance made from entirely natural ingredients. The natural perfume industry is still in its infancy in Australia, but there are a handful of companies with beautiful natural perfumes, including One Seed, of course!
We don’t want to be just another perfume company. We want to be a seed for change. We believe that the perfect beauty of nature need not be corrupted by synthetic interference. And that beauty is defined by knowing who you are, and being able to see beauty around you. So care more deeply. Share more of yourself. Live inspired. Make a difference.
If you absolutely must use your favourite perfume, the best advice in order to limit exposure isÂ to use it less frequently, spray it on your clothing rather than on your skin, and limit the number of products you use which contain synthetic fragrance.
For those interested in finding out more about this subject, there is a great article at www.ewg.org/files/SafeCosmetics_FragranceRpt.pdf
Do you think most of us realise what we’re spraying on ourselves when we use unnatural fragrances?
Definitely not. Firstly because most of us assume anything that’s harmful would not be allowed in our stores, and, secondly, because these companies use such clever marketing. The multimillions of dollars spent on advertising for these fragrances are designed to make us feel more sexy, more desirable, more in style, more cutting edge, and so we are subconsciously lured toward those messages, and very rarely consider what is actually in the bottle.
The other issue is that our natural response to something that smells good is a sense of pleasure, regardless of the actual ingredients. If the end result it a beautiful aroma, its attractive.
Can you talk me through what ingredients make up One Seed perfumes?
Our list of ingredients is very simple: natural alcohol from sugar cane or grapes, a blend of natural fragrance extracts (which includes essential oils, absolutes, resins and tinctures), and distilled water. We don’t include anything artificial at all, and use creative blending techniques and specific extracts to make a formula that lasts on the skin, and has enough sillage without being overpowering.
Our natural perfume range includes anything from 10 up to 22 different fragrant plant extracts, including some costing over $20,000 per kg, such as ambrette seed (a natural musk), iris root and tuberose. And we are always on the lookout for the latest natural extracts.
Some of our most exciting recent discoveries are raspberry extract and apricot absolute which, just a couple of years ago, were impossible to produce. New techniques for extracting plant materials have made is possible to use soft fruits, specific parts of a plant and even dirt and seashells! My palette is rapidly expanding – it’s so exciting!
Can you tell, simply by smelling, the difference between a natural perfume and a synthetic one?
With practice, you can detect synthetic ingredients in any product, whether it is washing powder or perfume. But it does take practice. Some perfume houses are very good at creating scents that are very close to nature, whilst others are very obviously synthetic.
How was the brand conceived? Have you always been interested in fragrance and aromatherapy?
I have been involved in the organic beauty industry since 2001, when I opened my first store, Out of Eden, in Adelaide. Over the next eight years I opened two more stores, and developed our own range of body care products, and fell in love with blending along the way.
When I sold the business in 2008, I kept the formulae for the fragrances I was working on, seeing a gap in the perfume market which I thought I might enter one day! Three months later, I began working on our first three fragrances, and in May 2009, One Seed was born.
I think I really developed my “nose” for perfumery with Out of Eden, working with aromatherapy oils every day. The field of perfumery is so vast with so many opportunities for creativity and a new extract or formula around every corner. I have a passion for all things organic, for business and for creating, and natural perfumery is my art.
My desire has always been to create a natural perfume range that is about more than the product itself, and a business that is a catalyst for inspiration and social change. Our company statement sums it up: We don’t want to be just another perfume company. We want to be a seed for change. We believe that the perfect beauty of nature need not be corrupted by synthetic interference. And that beauty is defined by knowing who you are, and being able to see beauty around you. So care more deeply. Share more of yourself. Live inspired. Make a difference.
At the end of the day, it’s not the profit that really counts.
Why do you think perfume has become such an important part of most women’s beauty ritual?
Perfume has been part of our beauty ritual for thousands of years, in fact.
Our sense of smell is so powerful sense because it is linked to memory and emotion, and so we can change the way we feel just by making ourselves smell better. In ancient times, women would use extracts from flower petals, incense and woods to do that, but in modern times we have the privilege of such a variety of aromas.
We can ignite our sense of nostalgia with fragrances that smell like our childhood, lift our mood with effervescent fruity scents, or install a sense of calm or comfort with florals. And we can even travel the globe with one spray, visiting oriental destinations with the aromas of Indian spices, island fruits and flowers or Asian blossoms.
Scent has a way of making us feel more connected, more free, more desirable or more beautiful.
What are your plans for One Seed?
We will be releasing another four fragrances this year, and working on a new addition to the natural perfume range. Next year, we will be looking at international markets. But my aim is to always keep One Seed a boutique brand; to keep it artisan, and to continue creating our fragrances by hand.
I would love to see One Seed develop a cult following! That would definitely be a great achievement! I would also love to be nominated for a Fifi Award or Jasmine Award (fragrance industry awards) sometime in the future, but that will be a really tough competition!
The big brands put a huge emphasis on packaging, with much of what the consumer pays actually going toward the bottle and the marketing. How do you approach your bottling?
Keep it simple, but beautiful. I think great packaging often makes or breaks a product, no matter whether it’s a natural product or not. I think this is where a lot of natural products fall over, because they assume consumers will find them and try them just for the natural aspect. I don’t agree.
I think first you need to be eye-catching and make a statement, especially in an age of uber-competition in the beauty industry. Great packaging is really important to our products, but our perfume is our main focus, so we use our packaging like a picture frame for our art, and use most of our budget to source the best natural ingredients money can buy.
What does your natural beauty routine look like? What’s one beauty essential you could never go without?
My natural beauty routine is pretty simple: cleanse, mild exfoliant and moisturise twice a day, and a clay mask once a week. I have an occasional microdermabrasion facial, which I love, and it makes my skin absolutely glow for a few weeks after!
As far as makeup, I love to play but for the most part I wear a mineral makeup, mascara and lip gloss. And I only ever buy natural beauty products, of course! There are so many good ones these days! The one beauty essential I could go live without is concealer. It covers a multitude of sins!
What are your favourite scents from nature and why?
I absolutely adore complex florals like magnolia, jasmine and boronia. There are so many complex notes in just one single bloom! I love going for a run when the jasmine is in full bloom, and I have been known to bring home more than a few springs a keep my nose in it for days! Boronia season is so short, but I adore it. The smell of boronias fills my home for a few weeks a year.
Being a perfumer has definitely given me a love and passion aroma, and taught me to really savour the scent of every blossom, fruit or seed. I have a reputation for lingering over the scent of a freshly picked lemon before I use it in my cooking, and for taking way too long to brew chai tea for my visitors, which I insist on making from scratch every time!
Visit www.oneseedcompany.com to find out more.
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UlyanaAugust 12, 2011 at 12:41 am
I have searched everywhere for natural fragrance of this kind of quality! Great post!
Eco Beauty EditorAugust 12, 2011 at 9:49 am
So glad I could help Ulyana! It is hard to find a genuinely natural fragrance. Liz has created some beautiful perfumes, and she’s releasing more in the near future. I’ll let you know when the new one/s are released x