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

Oil’s well that ends well: layering with perfume oils

Fragrance oils fell out of favour for a while, but there’s no doubt they’re back – a trend we’ve watched build over the past year in to a full-on fragrant flurry.

Perfume oils are perfect for layering scents – you can prolong the strength and life of your perfume by adding an oil (on top or underneath – both ways are absolutely fine) in either a complimentary fragrance that enhances the notes of your chosen perfume, or a contrasting scent to boost an aspect you wish was there.

So, if you have a perfume that’s too sweet for your tastes now, try adding an oil that’s citrusy and fresh; if a fragrance smells too harsh, soften the edges with a vanilla or musk-based fragrance oil, and so on.

Think of it like cooking a recipe, and ‘tasting’ as you go – balancing the flavours until you reach the perfect blend. Or, if you’re a perfume purist, of course you can simply enjoy wearing these fragrance oils alone…

We can’t get enough of Ostens oils – impecable quality (they source them directly from IFF and, uniquely, make them available to the public for the first time), and they actively recommend you try layering them with any fragrances you already own. We love ramping up the rose in a perfume by adding this one – it’s like diving head-first into a mountain of freshly plucked petals. Exquisite examples of Jasmine and Cedarwood are also available, with Patchouli Heart and Cashmeran coming soon. We can’t wait to play!

Ostens Rose Oil Isparta £65 for 9ml perfume oil

If your Summer scents still seem a bit flighty to wear, add some depth with this deliciously fragrant oil – an unexpected mix of spice-infused bergamot and plum with an addictive leather/amber dry down that lingers for hours. Malin & Goetz like to surprise, and all their perfume oils are cleverly blended and rather sophisticated scents – so with this one, don’t worry, you wont smell like you’ve been hitting the bottle! The roller-ball application makes this especially useful for travelling or touching up your scent on the go.

Malin & Goetz Dark Rum £40 for 9ml perfume oil

Presenting the dinkiest trio of roll on perfume oils to allow you to create a signature scent by layering together, using in combination with other perfumes you have or wearing alone. Mocha Bloom has infused espresso with musky floral tones, Leather Haze fuses smooth woodiness with ripe berries and Vanilla Satori mixes spiced honey sweetness with the freshness of citrus and rich undertones of tobacco leaves.

& Other Stories Tailor Your Story Layering Scents £19 for 3 x 4ml perfume oil

As part of the gloriously packaged, apothecary-style The Alchemist’s Garden collection, Gucci spoil us with14 scents, comprising seven Eaux de Parfums, four Perfumed Oils and three Perfumed Waters, all composed by brilliant perfumer Alberto Morillas. Designed to be layered in the most luxurious way, the four oils are poetically named and elegantly scented – and we think they look fit to be displayed on Marie Antoinette’s dressing table. We loved the violet oil that walks a tightrope between powderiness and verdancy, a perfectly delicate touch to layer with green and forest-y scents.

Gucci Alchemist’s Garden A Kiss From Violet £295 for 20ml perfumed oil

Fragranced body oil are another great way of layering (and making your perfume last longer). Fans have flocked to this warm fragrance, and now you can smother yourself in the decadently rich oil as well – it’s powerful enough to wear alone, or really lovely layered with lighter scents. Warm ambergris and cedarwood are buoyed by luminescent jasmine, with distinct undertones of caramelised brown sugar to my nose. Argan, sweet almond and apricot kernel oils have been used as the base, making this gorgeously moisturising but never greasy.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Scented Body Oil £75 for 70ml

Written by Suzy Nightingale