The Scented Ritual of Perfume Oils & Attars…

Increasingly, we’re seeing a new interest in fragrance oils and attars as a way of wearing perfume. These beautiful scents feel more calming and part of a fragrant ritual than simply spraying a scent and rushing out the door. Here’s why we think they’re trending, and our edit of oils you need to know…

Let’s begin with this really helpful clarification on the difference between a concentrated perfume oil and attar, which comes via the medium.com blog:

‘According to Wikipedia, ‘the word ‘attar’, ‘ittar’ or ‘itra’ believed to have been derived from the Persian word itir, meaning ‘perfume’, which is also believed to be derived from Arabic word itr.

Essential oils are typically derived from botanical sources such as flowers, resins, woods, spices, etc. Most commonly these oils are extracted via hydro or steam distillation methods using deg and bhapka arrangement. Many a times the attar composers run co-distillations for a desired effect.

Traditionally these essential oils are ‘pulled’ into sandalwood or other appropriate carrier oils at the end of the distillation apparatus. The resultant product is then separated from floral waters. The oil part, which floats, is filtered into a separate container and allowed to stand for few days. This oil component is called as an attar.’

 

 

This style of perfumery dates back to the 1500s and the Mughal emperors of India, though using oil as a carrier for fragrant ingredients dates back far further still. At the polar opposite end of the perfume spectrum from those more overt shoulderpads-in-a-bottle or va-va-voom, ready-to-party fragrances (which we still love, by the way, never fear!) these types of scents are perhaps more contemplative, calming, and offer moments of meditation that stay close to the skin.

While attars / oils are intense and concentrated scents, you’d be wrong to assume that these will announce your presence at 20 paces. ‘Attars don’t necessarily land on the skin with an impactful whomp, as an eau de parfum might,’ says perfumer Nancy Meiland, whose GAIA attar – and the following attar, SOFIA – proved a huge hit. ‘They tend to be worn closely and mingle on your skin in warm “nuzzles” that you pick up throughout the day.’ The diffusion of these scents is hushed, whispering intriguingly yet also lingering for longer. ‘They tend to be worn closely and mingle on your skin, giving off warm “nuzzles” that you pick up throughout the day.’

 

 

As trend forecaster and fragrance writer for wewerperfume.com Amanda Carr observes, though we’re only just (re)discovering them here, attars are still used in very practical ways in India:

‘Attars are used by the Muslim population in India a little like a wellness boost, and the perfumeries I visited were bustling with families buying their season scents to uplift their health and emotional happiness, also unlike an eau de parfum there is no alcohol to worry about. There are traditional guidelines as to when you wear particular botanicals, cooling vetiver for the hot summer days, along with jasmine and rose, with saffron used during the chiller months for its warming properties. The instore perfumers often gave advice – a bit like a pharmacist – as to which botanical attar could help with a particular malaise.’

Nancy explains that she felt ‘intuitively drawn’ to creating her first attar during the early days of the pandemic. ‘GAIA’s ultra-soothing concentrated blend of Calabrian bergamot, nutmeg and jasmine sambac is centred around blue lotus absolute, which traditionally is seen as “a flower that can open your mind and is powerfully protective during times of transformation.”’

So why now this plethora of perfume oils and attars making their way onto centre stage for the Western market, you may wonder? Nancy asserts it’s quite simple, really; saying [in troubled times]:

‘…we want more magic not less.  It’s about working closely with the plants and flower essences and getting to know their properties and benefits.  Then combining them so that they don’t crush each other while enhancing each other’s odour profile – the individual notes should sing out in their fullness and create a harmony of scent. There is an alchemy to an attar that works with nature…’

 

NANCY_MEILAND_GAIA

Nancy Meiland GAIA From £4.95 for 2ml (£65 for 30ml) nancymeiland.com

 

Looking for other perfume oils and attars to have a play with this season? Try some of these sumptuous examples, below: we feel sure that once you discover the delights (and definite mood-enhancing abilities) of attars, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Priced from pocket-friendly to the ultra lust-worthy treat, there’s something to suit everyone…

If your scents suddenly lack depth, add interest with this deliciously fragrant oil. An unexpected mix of spice-infused bergamot and plum with a ‘your-skin-but-so-much-better’, creamy leather dry-down, the warm tingle of amber then simmers for hours. The roller-ball bottle makes this especially useful for travelling (if you’re lucky enough!) or touching up your scent on the go.

Malin & Goetz Dark Rum Perfume Oil £32 for 9ml malinandgoetz.co.uk

 

 

 

Christopher Yu and Laurent Delafon were inspired to create their Ostens collection by the incredible portfolio of naturals from LMR Naturals. The eau de parfum comes with the option of adding a ‘Préparation Oil’ (and we highly recommend you do), which you can layer or enjoy alone. Every fragrance in the Ostens portfolio of scents is gorgeous in its own right, but we have to say, when layered in this way, they become out of this world divine.

Ostens Rose Oil Isparta £185 for 50ml eau de parfum + perfume oil ostens.com

 

 

 

 

Strangelove – from the creative trio of perfumer Christophe Laudamiel, supermodel Helena Christensen and naturals expert Elizabeth Gaynes – put thoroughly sophisticated (and utterly addictive) fragrance oils at the very heart of their collection. We urge you to nuzzle into this hypnotically delicious blend of oudh, stimulating mandarin, purified ginger, deeply magnetic sandalwood and luscious dark chocolate for a sultry scent ritual, with the necklace a nod to traditional ways of carrying precious perfume about the body.

Strangelove meltmyheart Perfume Oil Necklace £170 for 1.25ml harrods.com

(PS: You can also try the entire range of Strangelove fragrances eau de parfum for £92 in our shop!)

 

The LilaNur attars’ prices reflects the meticulous effort to process the precious flowers immediately after harvesting – they’re placed in oil beside the fields they’ve been grown in. Suggesting annointing the palms of your hands and breathing in before applying, it honestly feels like a divine experience – as though your feet have lifted from the ground and angels are singing. A purity and depth we’re unused to, with those few drops carrying you throughout the day.

LilaNur Jasmin Attar Absolu Perfume Oil £340 for 30ml harrods.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

How to Use Scent & Breath Work in Meditation

Learning how to breathe properly might sound counterintuitive – it’s something we do everyday without thinking about it – but deep breathing techniques are especially useful when combined with fragrance. Offering full body and mind relaxation, these breathing strategies can help when no matter if you’re feeling a little anxious, or having a full-blown panic attack. What’s more, using a particular fragrance you find calming while practising the breathing techniques can aid the feeling of relaxation every time you use it. What’s more, it can even improve your sense of smell, and your appreciation of fragrances you already own.

Catherine Turner is a meditation and yoga guru, and explains, “Breath is life of course, and yet it sounds almost too good to be true that something so natural, free and right under our noses is one of our biggest wellness boosters.” She continues: “As any breath guru will tell you, when we breathe freely and deeply, we cultivate a balanced nervous system – the overseer of our digestion and sleep wake cycle. When these systems are functioning well, we feel energised, positive and open to life. In our super visualised world, we’re not necessarily aware that breathing is a sensorial process intrinsically linked to our sense of smell.”

 

 

Catherine’s advice is to practice simple breath work and then use it in our everyday lives whenever we feel overwhelmed. Each time we inhale, air moves up the nostrils; is warmed and filtered by the tiny hairs (cilia) and mucus lining; passes over a stamp sized piece of tissue at the back of the nose (the olfactory epithelium) where odorous molecules are processed and information is sent to the brain for interpretation.

 

 

All of this physiological process generally goes on in the background. Yet most of us can recall times we’ve experienced the effects of our breath: the ‘out of breath’ high during exercise; the giddy ‘breathlessness’ that comes with excitement. Or, how wonderful it is to fill our lungs with the wet earthy woodsy aroma in the forest or the salty zesty oceanic breeze by the sea. Such moments of pure awareness hold the key to an ever present feeling of deep calm and unbounded joy which we miss when we’re so caught up in the worries and anxieties of the day…”

 

 

So, allow yourself to take a few minutes to watch Catherine perform these breath work techniques here, and join in this mini scent and breath work session whenever you feel the need to re-set your mind, and draw a line under any stresses plaguing you throughout the day.

Don’t forget – the scent you choose should be easy to carry around with you, so you can have it on hand at all times in a bag or pocket. We suggest looking for a travel size, smaller roll-on bottle, or simply decanting a favourite soothing fragrance into a portable, re-fillable spritz for on-the-go scented meditation whenever you need it. Consider trying these wonderfully soothing scents while practicing your breath work…

 

Nancy Meiland explains that she felt ‘intuitively drawn’ to creating her first attar during the early days of the pandemic. ‘GAIA’s ultra-soothing concentrated blend of Calabrian bergamot, nutmeg and jasmine sambac is centred around blue lotus absolute, which traditionally is seen as “a flower that can open your mind and is powerfully protective during times of transformation.”’ Perfect, then, for use in meditation and breath work.

Nancy Meiland GAIA from £4.95 for 2ml (£50 for 30ml) nancymeiland.com

 

 

COSMOSS Sacred Mist

Kate Moss taps into powerful ingredients to showcase into her spiritual side, embracing meditation  and mindfulness with her signature gusto. And we couldn’t be happier with that metamorphosis, expressed via her Cocomoss skincare collection, also offering us an astonishingly accomplished Chypre creation in which subtle jasmine and tuberose fuse with geranium and bergamot. It’s the sense-soothing, calming notes of oakmoss, cedarwood and tonka that we’re spritzing and re-spritzing – on and off the yoga mat.

Try a sample (plus 11 other scents & a body care treat) in our Garden of Delights Discovery Box £23 / £19 for VIPs

 

An unexpectedly soul-soothing mix of spice-infused bergamot and plum with a ‘your-skin-but-so-much-better’, creamy leather dry-down, the warm tingle of amber then simmers for hours. The roller-ball bottle makes this especially useful for travelling or touching up your scent as you breathe deeply and let go while on the go.

Malin & Goetz Dark Rum Perfume Oil £32 for 9ml malinandgoetz.co.uk

 

 

 

Sleep Knot is a soothing come-hither scent, featuring four of eastern tradition’s aphrodisiac aromas: sandalwood, jasmine, ylang ylang and black pepper. Jasmine absolute is described in Indian literature as calming and seductive: ylang ylang is named “the oil of tranquillity” and black pepper is traditionally used as a stimulant. Together, you have a beautifully sensual spiced white floral.

4160 Tuesdays Sleep Knot £85 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

Smell your way to wellness with Anima Vinci

Anima Vinci are a niche fragrance house with wellness at their core – not paying mere lip-service to a current trend, but building their scents around a central ethos of literally allowing yourself time to stop and smell the roses (and jasmine, Palo Santo, citrus, sesame seeds…)

With a background at the very first ‘niche’ perfumery house – and years at the creative helm of one of the UK’s most historic fragrance names – Nathalie Vinciguerra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. But it’s her passion for authenticity and sustainability within the world of fragrance that finally drove her to create Anima Vinci. Starting her illustrious career in Paris at L’Oréal, over seven years, she ‘…acquired in-depth expertise in fragrance development and international launches.’

From 2006 until 2015, Nathalie was the Head of Fragrance Development for Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur – creating briefs and working directly with perfumers to create award-winning fragrances you’ll definitely have worn, including absolute classics like Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling. And it was Nathalie’s excellent working relationship with some of the best noses in the world that further prepared her for the massive leap in founding her own fragrance house, with a very particular aim in mind.

 

 

Nathalie genuinely believes in perfume’s power to uplift our senses, and to enhance our own ability to emotionally connect to our surroundings. ‘Anima Vinci is the creative expression of my strong belief in the power of fragrance,’ she says, ‘and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit. I believe that scents have the power to immerse us in the universe’s energy and nature’s beauty.’

A devotee of yoga and meditation for over thirty years, Nathalie’s exuberantly expressed and enlightened concept can instantaneously be understood when actually smelling the beautiful bounty – with Rose Prana, for instance, you will find yourself fully immersed in the rose fields of Grasse, smelling the earth below the bushes abundant with fresh, almost raspberry-scented Rose de Mai blooms, and a sense of the sky above. Jasmine Ylang, meanwhile, is an altogether more exotic journey – symbolic of divine hope in India – opulence tempered with lucidity, sandalwood and frangipani, a holiday for the soul.

‘Scent is the most sensational of senses,’ Nathalie explains. ‘The world opens up before me. I’m taken back to my past and propelled towards my future. Timelessly I return to a specific place. Memories take me to my Eden. I enjoy every breath of the world and look forward defiantly. I create fragrances that encourage you to embrace life. All you have to do is breathe.’

 

 

For me, personally, the most immediately transportive fragrance in their collection is Wood of Life. Built around the remarkably calming ingredient palo santo (a wood prized for its cleansing and spiritual properties, and burned in many religious and meditative practices), I genuinely feel my shoulders drop an inch when I spray it. And it’s one of those fragrances that just makes you smile and breathe deeply – just as Nathalie describes. It’s so soothing, like wearing an invisible cloak of perfumed protection, and incredibly useful on days you just feel overwhelmed, at work, on the tube, in a stressful situation at home – wherever you are. A notorious insomniac for pretty much all my life, I sometimes wear this to bed. I’m not going to pretend it zonks me out immediately, but smelling it while breathing deeply has definitely helped slow my overactive mind a while – it brings stillness: a perfume to hit the pause button with.

I cannot recommend the Anima Vinci fragrances highly enough – each one has been carefully composed in a collaboration between Nathalie and some of the world’s foremost perfumers, names like Thomas Fontaine, Christian Provenzano, Randa Hammami, Fanny Bal, Beverley Bayne and Michel Roudnitska. Basically a who’s-who of the fragrance world, and an indication of Nathalie’s prowess for connecting and working with these noses she’s spent her entire career communicating with.

But which of the scents will communicate most deeply with you, I wonder? Perhaps it will depend what mood you’re in and how you want to address it on that day – and now, wonderfully, you are able to try the entire collection at home with the Anima Vinci Discovery Set. Try EIGHT fragrances for only £20, and get ready for some self-care with scents. How are you feeling…?

 

 

Lime Spirit — Lime acts as a stimulating tonic for the mind and body. Lime pacifies your mood and boost brain power. It is a powerful ancient remedy for cleansing the aura and restoring self-confidence

Rose Prana — It benefits the heart chakra that is responsible for love, spiritual wisdom and mental clarity. Influences the central nervous system, boosts self-confidence, self – esteem and positive feeling. Strengthens the aura and stimulate the body

Jasmine Yang — Tonic and relaxant, it generates a positive reaction in the mind, enhances self-confidence, helps to change the mood and increase spiritual well being

Wood of Life — This elevating, soft, uplifting and sweet woody scent has been used for thousands of years for attaining illumination of mind, awaking self-love

Oud Delight — Illuminates the mind and fortifies the power of thinking. Increase the sense of strength, bringing in tranquillity, increasing cerebral functioning and strengthening the nervous system.

Tudo Azul — The potion to put a smile on your face.

Neroli Wisdom — A relaxing potion.

Sesame Chān — A potion to provide a zen state of mind.

We may be in the depths of winter still, but soon the seasons will change, the green bugs will burst open again, the sunshine will return – and in the meantime, why not treat yourself to some moments of scented reflection and calm, to revive and uplift or simply put a smile on your face? Whichever Anima Vinci fragrance you choose to wear, they’ll really help carry you through.

Written by Suzy Nightingale