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How to Make Your Own Eco-friendly Perfumes

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If you are looking for a perfume that is environmentally friendly, the best thing you can do is make your own. Perfumes are based on essential oils, though the mixtures and additives used are profound secrets for most companies and producers. I'll talk about eco-perfume manufacturers in a minute.

Essential oils themselves are powerful both in scent and in how they influence our bodies. Mixed with the right base oil, and in the right combination, EOs can encourage healing, sleep, alertness, positive outlook, and much more. They also smell amazingly good, and the combinations are endless. Some EOs are even powerful enough to burn skin if undiluted, so pay attention.

Glass containers are best because the oils won't leech chemicals as they sometimes do with plastic containers. Also, the glass ones are reusable if you want to change your scent next month. Also, be aware that organic and responsibly harvested EOs can be expensive. $3.50 for common scents to $23.50 for Jasmine and Rose. Carrier oils range from basic olive oil (good for the skin, but does tend to feel oily) to specialty vegetable and fruit oils such as avocado and carrot oil.

Almond oil is light, sweet, and works well for most skin-types. Coconut oil is a rich emollient, commonly used as a moisturizer, and in cosmetics. Grapeseed oil is "non-oily," and one of the lightest and best oils available (according to Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal). It is odorless, and perfect for acne-prone skin. Rose water is not an oil, but is the distilled water of roses. Be sure to get 100 percent pure rose water, as even natural food stores often carry brands with synthetics and preservatives in the water. This smells and tastes heavenly, and has light astringent properties.

Once you select your carrier oil, check out your local natural food store, or grocery store with a respectable organic food section. There should be a display of several essential oils in little glass dropper jars. To get the scent without burning out your nose, try smelling the removed lid, and not the bottle directly. If you want to mix more than one scent together, take both lids and hold them under your nose together for a sense of their combined scent. One of my favorite mixtures is Lavender and Bergamot in grapeseed oil. For every tablespoon of carrier oil, you'll only want to add about five drops of EO, so think carefully about how much and how many EOs you want to combine. A tablespoon of carrier oil can go a long way.

I tend to rub my mixture on the back of my neck, and on my elbows, since it works both as a scent and a moisturizer. Wash your hands after mixing or applying your personalized perfume, as you don't want to get EOs in your eyes. If I use rose water without a carrier oil, I combine half rosewater, half regular distilled water, a cap-full of witch hazel, and a few drops of an essential oil in a spray bottle. I close my eyes and spritz my face with this, as it is a great gentle astringent after a warm shower, and it makes my skin smell amazing.

Natural perfumes, without all the chemicals and preservatives that make manufactured perfumes so environmentally unsound, don't always last the whole day. Also, our noses grow accustomed to the scent on our skin, whatever type of perfume we use. It is important to remember that while we may not notice our perfume by lunchtime, it may still be noticeable by our coworkers and friends. It is possible to over-scent ourselves and our environment with EOs just as with any other perfume, aftershave, or air freshener. Please check with the folks around you before adding more scent part-way through the day. You may not need it.

Studies have shown that Lavender is one of the most versatile EOs available. In small doses, it sooths and calms. In large doses, it is enlivening. It is a cleanser, and aids healing of bruises, burns, sprains, strains, and some skin conditions. Check with a doctor, and use common sense. Lavender also smells amazing to a large percentage of the population, though I do know a few folks who can't stand the smell. According to available research on scent in the workplace, men often find Lavender to be a sexually appealing scent, while women find it soothing and refreshing. Lemon EO aids in mental clarity and liveliness. Some companies are even paying professionals to add EO scents to the ventilation system, in an effort to increase alertness and productivity of workers, or calm board-room tensions.

Scent is a powerful tool. From the warm spicy smell of cloves (apply to skin only in diluted form), the tangy fresh smell of grapefruit, the enlivening refreshing scent of mint, cyprus, and pine, to floral EOs such as rose, jasmine, and geranium. The variety is endless.

Another way to go green with perfumes is to look for companies that produce earth-friendly perfumes. Labels with this reputation include: Aura Cacia (a well-known provider of EOs), and an awesome website with a great reputation, called L'Artisan Parfumeur. Located in Paris, but providing personal attention the world over, their organic line is particularly worthwhile. For additional resources and comparison shopping on the earth-friendly front, check out http://www.pristineplanet.com.

Some important clues to the environmentally-friendly nature of off-the-shelf perfumes include labels such as "cruelty-free" and "not tested on animals." Look for organic compounds, and ingredient lists in which each scientific name is followed by the pedestrian name. For example, butyrospermum parkii is also known as shea butter. Salvia officinalis is the scientific name for Sage. You might want to avoid products with excessive alcohols, acetates, and phosphates in them. Look out for products containing known carcinogens-- a topic for another factoid.

One rule of thumb states that the fewer ingredients, the more pure the product. Products with fewer ingredients are also less likely to contain harmful preservatives and chemicals. Wild-Crafted is a term often applied to more expensive EOs. It means that the herbs were harvested from the wild. Some activists prefer these products because they know the ingredients have not been genetically modified or mass-produced on a plant farm. Other activists avoid Wild-Crafted products because many popular herbs, such as Golden Seal, are now endangered species due to over-harvesting in the wild.

Another aspect of going green with perfumes is to consider the amount of fossil fuels used to package, produce, and ship the perfume you select. Packaging and transportation can cause more harm to our environment through the production of plastics and one-time-use non-recyclables, not to mention burning gas and oil, and creating carbon and chemical emissions than any amount of organic content can off-set. Think globally, act locally. From popcorn to perfume, we vote with our dollars, and every action (or lack of action) makes a difference in our world.

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Mark Cruz
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Posted on Feb 4, 2012
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