Are 100% Natural Fragrances Proper Perfume?

One of the things that frustrates me about the perfume industry is the belief that using 100% natural materials is not “proper perfumery”

I remember working for a big fragrance company in the 1990’s when all the supermarkets were launching “aromatherapy” lines and becoming so disillusioned I wanted to quit.

I wanted to quit because the perfumers were creating fragrances to fit with specific claims such as relaxing, uplifting etc. and asking me to research what oils to put in so they could be highlighted on the pack. 

So we would end up with a Le Male by Gaultier copy with some lavender oil in for a relaxing foam bath. 

I decided to do an aromatherapy diploma so I could truly understand the therapeutic benefits of the naturals but the more I learned the more I disliked what the perfume industry was doing. 

That was when I left to join the product development team at Neal’s Yard and got to create fragrances that were 100% natural.

The industry has come a long way with accepting naturals and even big companies like IFF are creating  natural fragrances for brands like Liz Earl as well as investing in the production of raw materials.

The legendary Mandy Aftel has pioneered natural perfumery but sadly due to the many E.U restrictions, those of us in Europe are not able to buy fragrances with the level of exquisite naturals the American and Australian artisan perfumers are allowed to use.

One of the reasons I started teaching perfumery was so people who wanted 100% natural fragrances could make for themselves what they were unable to buy. Of course when people get the perfume bug they become inspired to sell their creations which is a bit more challenging.

So if you are wanting to create with naturals just for your own pleasure then go ahead – you’ll have something unique that is every bit as beautiful as the “proper perfumes” created by the big houses.

If you want some guidance and can get to my studio here in The New Forest come along to a live 1 day natural perfumery class

If not then my Make a Natural Perfume Masterclass will get you started.



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karen gilbert
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