Naturally... Natural fragrances

Liz Earle’s Botanical Essence No. 15 is soft, understatedly sensual and not too sweet

Botanical Essence No. 15: made with 15 botanicals and 90 per cent natural ingredients handcrafted by an award-winning French perfumer

Botanical Essence No. 15: made with 15 botanicals and 90 per cent natural ingredients handcrafted by an award-winning French perfumer

 

T he ingredient listed on product labels as “fragrance” or “parfum” has long been a bugbear for allergy sufferers and health-conscious consumers. The term hides all sorts of both natural and synthetic ingredients – a dozen or more chemicals for most products – which companies are not required to disclose because “fragrance” is considered a trade secret.

This ambiguous ingredient pops up in all kinds of personal care products: shampoos, facial cleansers, body lotions, you name it. If you’re worried about allergens or potentially harmful chemicals hiding behind a whiff of strawberries-and-cream, you can always opt for fragrance-free skin and hair care products.

But what if you fancy fragrance, the kind you dab on your pulse points or spray into the air before dashing through it on your way out the door?

You’ll more than likely have to accept not completely knowing exactly what’s in a bottle, but more “natural” fragrances, while hard to find, do exist.

There’s something quite special about perfume: it’s luxurious and oddly personal. So many of us make a fuss of finding that signature scent, deciding if floral, fresh, woodsy, musky, sweet or spicy sums us up best, and the bottle and packaging are equally important. Just always do a patch test before fully committing.

I’ve never been a huge fan of perfume. I like the idea and have often browsed beauty halls and duty frees weirdly wanting to want one of the pretty bottles.

But I always walk away remembering that when I do wear them, I more often than not end up with a headache and the worry that I’ll overwhelm anyone standing too close to me.

I recently, however, discovered a fragrance that doesn’t tick me off: Liz Earle’s eau de parfum Botanical Essence No. 15 (€65.50, Boots, Arnotts).

Liz Earle from the Isle of Wight makes ranges of skin care, hair care and makeup as well as three fragrances, which contain 89 to 98 per cent sustainably sourced natural ingredients – and they’ll be releasing a fourth late next month.

No. 15 is made with 15 botanicals and 90 per cent natural ingredients, handcrafted by an award-winning French perfumer. It’s a blend of pink pepper, cinnamon and bergamot with Damask rose, Indian sandalwood, tonka bean and vanilla.

I thought it was a bit underwhelming after the first spritz and sniff. Where was my floral meadow? I couldn’t see myself skipping through it, barefoot in slow motion, draped in powder pink tulle and chiffon. Instead, I was standing in a hot kitchen with my nose too close to a weighed down spice rack.

But after giving it a short time to mellow, which you’re supposed to do anyway to allow the base notes to come through and the top notes to calm down, I suddenly loved this perfume. Under its spicy, woodsy, warm aroma, is something more floral and feminine. It’s soft, sophisticated, understatedly sensual, and it’s not too sweet or cloying. You could wear it all year, but it’s the perfect scent for autumn and winter.

Six hours later and it’s still there, only milder and with a slightly more vanilla scent.

Its cream bottle is simple, unfussy. I particularly like the matching box it comes in, which is designed to store the bottle and protect the perfume’s potency; its elegant botanical diagram design is just lovely.

For me, it’s the full package really. kharris@irishtimes.com

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