Saturday, May 31, 2008

Steve Earl Responds to Jean Pierre Subrenat of the World Perfumery Congress - 2007

To view the quotes and the context for this blog, please visit my article on Basenotes wherein I trace my take on the evolution of acceptance of natural perfumery in the past few years. What triggered my article was a published account of the closing speech of Jean-Pierre Subrenat, Chairman of the World Perfumery Congress as it appeared in Perfumer and Flavorist magazine.

I have to give a lot of credit to Steve Earl of Glen Custom Perfumery in Greenwich Connecticut. He pointed me to the P&F article, and then he provided me with a copy of the succinct, witty and pithy letter that he wrote to the editor of Perfumer and Flavorist in response to the Subrenat speech. Knowing that P&F does not publish letters to the editor, Steve admitted it was just something he felt had to be said. I am very honored that Steve has given me permission to publish it here.

Editor Stephen A. Earl
Perfumer and Flavorist Glen Custom Perfumery
Allured Publishing 26 Applewood Lane
Avon, CT 06001

August 6, 2007

To the Editor:

Jean-Pierre Subrenat’s closing thoughts at WPC 2007 took me by surprise. He is concerned “because we have a tendency to take the consumer for granted,” and he sees consumers “rejecting traditional perfumery and traditional distribution in favor of smaller and smaller niches…” He sees the need “to come back to the definition of ‘new,’ and therefore, of creativity.” Yet, he goes on to disparage a very new and very creative group of people: “the self-declared ‘natural perfumers.’”

Subrenat observes, rightly, that these people call themselves perfumers, yet most do not have formal training in perfumery. He criticizes them for creating the Natural Perfumers Guild, referring to it as “phony.” He even criticizes a Grasse organization for having the temerity to join the Natural Perfumers Guild. He calls for an end to “glorifying noise makers,” and , instead, to “stay the course with the real perfumers, the ones who, like me, spent many years as apprentices, many years learning their craft and, yes, who once in a while dare to use benzyl alcohol or aldehyde C-12.”

Mr. Subrenat is wrong about “natural perfumers,” and is equally wrong to ignore this new, creative effort to meet consumers’ desires. While Mr. Subrenat is entirely correct that most natural perfumers lack formal training, he is wrong to conclude that they are not going through the very same grueling apprenticeship that he went through. Each day, budding natural perfumers evaluate materials, create and evaluate accords, and endeavor to blend appealing new fragrances. Each day they grapple with supply chain problems, not just for materials, but also for bottling, labeling, and distribution. Every day they search for guidance and inspiration from the only people who are willing the help them: other natural perfumers. Every day they scour bookstores and the internet in search of written materials that would help them learn more about their craft. And, they are in constant search for the very training that Mr. Subrenat notes that they lack.

But, where are the “traditional perfumers” while all this is going on? They are hunkered down in their little world, making sure that nobody outside the club can learn their secrets. Mr. Subrenat and other fine traditional perfumers could write books or articles intended to educate new perfumers. They could produce training manuals, based on their own training, but focusing only on natural materials. They could include natural perfumers in their societies, and encourage the sharing of information. But they do not. They live by the longest of all the perfumery traditions: secrecy.

If, as Mr. Subrenat says, traditional perfumers dared to use benzyl alcohol or aldehyde C-12 “one in a while,” we wouldn’t have a world full of new natural perfumers. But, today’s traditional perfumes are so overwhelmingly synthetic that it is no small wonder that consumers and creative perfumers alike are looking for something new.

Traditional perfumery has to get out of its own rut, and Mr. Subrenat knows this and says it. Sadly, he dismisses the whole world of perfumery that existed for a couple of thousand years before the first synthetics. Maybe going back to one’s roots is a way to meet consumers’ desires. Maybe encouraging and welcoming new entrants into the craft can bring an exciting spark to a faltering industry.

Stephen A. Earl
Glen Custom Perfumery

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Three Stages of Public Acceptance of Natural Perfumery - Natural Perfumers Guild President Anya McCoy's latest article on Basenotes

Click here to read the latest in Anya's regular columns for Basenotes. In it she looks back over the past three years of high-profile attention that natural perfumery has garnered on the internet, and compares it to other artistic movements that move through three stages of acceptance.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reminder: Natural Perfumers Guild Supplier Allured Publishing Offers 20% off all books Through July 15, 2008

Reminder - only a few weeks left on this special 20% off offer:

The Natural Perfumers Guild is pleased to announce that Guild Supplier Allured Publishing, the leader in the industry for books, journals and reference materials is offering 20 percent off all books through July 15, 2008.

Allured has proven to be responsive to the individual needs of natural perfumers through the welcome decision they made a few years ago to separate out Steffen Arctander's Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origins. A Guild member contacted them with the request to make that one volume out of the three volume set available separately since we did not require the two other volumes that dealt with synthetic aroma chemicals. They graciously did so, and we forged a relationship with them that is now expanded beyond the Guild requirements and those of the Yahoo Natural Perfumery book to the entire industry.

Any book, any subject - this is not limited to perfumery.

Any book is now available at 20 percent off through July 15
. Just enter the code anyaperfume in the voucher area at checkout and continue checkout for your discount to appear.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

IFRA website redesigned - Easier to find information, harder to use: here is a workaround

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has redesigned its website and it has an new look and at first glance seems easier to use, but there are annoying search problems. Since the site is the only place online to find out information on IFRA, the problems can slow down a search. The IFRA website is the repository for all of the information relating to aromatics, both natural and synthetic, according to their own guidelines. The guidelines are not mandatory in the industry, but any association that belongs to IFRA is supposed to promulgate their directives as to what aromatic material is restricted or prohibited. Restricted status means there are limits that the aromatic can be used in either a leave-on or wash-off product, and generally those limits vary according to aromatic and the end use. Prohibited means the aromatic may not be used under any circumstance in a product for the skin.

Now you can search the site either by name, alphabetical listing, CAS number or IFRA Amendment. The main problem with searching the site is that every time you click on a name, an alphabetic link or fill in the blank to search, a pop-up requesting if you wish to "remember that password" appears. Just clicking "not now" is not the solution - the workaround is "never for this site" which will allow you to continue searching unfettered. Not being a member of IFRA, the Guild cannot confirm how this workaround will function if you are an IFRA member, since you need to enter a username and password. The terms "not now" and "never for this site" are for the Firefox browser, your browser may have different language.

For many professional and hobbyist perfumers, frequent visits to the IFRA site are common, because whether in agreement or opposition to the guidelines, it is necessary to be aware of them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CZ/LUXE Launch Party in Hollywood May 21, 2008

CZLUXE™ Sustainable Beauty is the theme of the launch party for Chris Ziegler's new line of body care products. Chris is co-hosting the party with longtime friend and Creative Director of CZLUXE Orlando Delbert. They're blending his birthday celebration with the launch of CZLUXE™ Cleanse, Milk and Mist products. Entertainment includes the Low Stars, Sara Mann and Julie McCullough.

The CZLUXE™ line of body and facial care products is made using natural, Fair Trade, Ethically Harvested wild, and organic ingredients, which pamper the body and the senses. All CZ LUXE™ products are free of harsh synthetic chemicals, parabens, mineral oils, synthetic colors and fragrances, and phthalates. With the belief that eco-responsible packaging is essential, Ziegler was one of the first in the industry to use 100% Post Consumer Recycled Bottles, closing the recycling loop. This is truly Sustainable Beauty™.

Chris is a Charter member of the Natural Perfumers Guild in the Supplier category for her decade-old business A Little Olfactory, a wholesale and retail source of high-quality essential oils, fixed oils and other supplies for the aromatherapy and perfumery industries.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Natural Perfumers Guild Seal Designed by Helen Starkweather of Zen Soaps

The Guild logo, a perfume bottle, is joined by the Guild seal for brand and market images that can be used by Guild members for stickers, a wax seal or as an embossed metal tag for bottle cords used to secure caps or stoppers. The design was created by Helen Starkweather of Zen Soaps. Helen also designed the cover of the Primer for Anya McCoy's online Natural Perfumery Class by incorporating a jasmine grandiflorum var. Grasse photo of Anya's into an artistic background.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Interview with Guild President Anya McCoy on Perfume Critic

Natural Perfumers Guild president Anya McCoy is interviewed by Marlen Harrison of Perfume Critic in Part 1 of a two-part interview. Anya and Marlen banter about many subjects including the differences between natural perfumery, aromatherapy perfumes and mainstream perfumes, Temple perfume and its healing intent, Anya's online teaching (a first in interactive online study) and other fragrant topics.

Anya's Garden store has reopened today after a one-month hiatus while Anya was involved in other projects regarding legislation and the future of natural aromatics. The page for the online course has been updated to reflect more information about the content of the classes. Student testimonials will be posted in a few weeks as the Fall and Spring students move forward in their studies and reflect upon what they have gained from the course.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reminder: Natural Perfumers Guild Supplier Allured Publishing Offers 20% off all books Through July 15, 2008

Reminder - only six weeks left on this special 20% off offer:

The Natural Perfumers Guild is pleased to announce that Guild Supplier Allured Publishing, the leader in the industry for books, journals and reference materials is offering 20 percent off all books through July 15, 2008.

Allured has proven to be responsive to the individual needs of natural perfumers through the welcome decision they made a few years ago to separate out Steffen Arctander's Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origins. A Guild member contacted them with the request to make that one volume out of the three volume set available separately since we did not require the two other volumes that dealt with synthetic aroma chemicals. They graciously did so, and we forged a relationship with them that is now expanded beyond the Guild requirements and those of the Yahoo Natural Perfumery book to the entire industry.

Any book, any subject - this is not limited to perfumery.

Any book is now available at 20 percent off through July 15
. Just enter the code anyaperfume in the voucher area at checkout and continue checkout for your discount to appear.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Scents of the Soul - Reflections on the Art of AbdesSalaam Attar of Italy

Helg of the Perfume Shrine approached me several weeks ago with the proposal that we write a "Double Dubrana" today to pay our separate homages to the wonderful perfumer I know as Salaam of AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo di Dominique Dubrana of Italy.

I was eager to participate in this joint effort, noting to Helg I would not be reviewing his beautiful perfumes as she is doing - instead I will reminisce about the man, the perfumer I know and how his stature has developed and spread as an esteemed natural perfumer.

Salaam joined my online natural perfumery group on Yahoo a few years ago and became an active participant, sharing his knowledge and spiritual philosophy about the pure and natural aromatics we use to create our all-natural perfumes. I was honored when Salaam joined the Natural Perfumers Guild as a Professional Perfumer last year because I had sampled many of his perfumes over the years and found them to have an elegance and quality that set them apart, in a league of their own. Self-taught, Salaam moved from his native France to Italy years ago and set up an atelier where his family and artistic life combine to give ambiance to a fully-rounded lifestyle of aromatic community work.

I remember the first time I read about his public aromatic events that involved engaging the public in the beauty of natural fragrance such as "The Perfumed City." I particularly love this quote from Salaam "In effect over 120 000 doses were sprayed during the 10 days of the show. Enough to make of Riccione the most perfumed city of the word for that period." It can safely be said he does not do anything half way - he is totally involved in, and gives his time and energy to, educating the public as to the beauty of aromatherapy, perfumery, natural aromatics and may I say "living the good life." The reader may use the translation link on this page to read about the little "trenino del profumo" that is part of the Perfumed City event. Quite lovely and a lot of fun!

Salaam is unabashedly straightforward in his belief that animal essences are crucial to the perfume blend. They connect us at the most basic pheromonal level to our past, they are directly linked to our souls, our engrammes and our appreciation of the entire natural world. Over the years I have received as gifts, or purchased from him, some of the highest-quality animal extracts for use in perfumery. Diluted way down, they smooth, exalt and transform a perfume into a beautiful smelling direct link to our innermost soul. His standards in source natural aromatics are relentless, he will not accept anything but the finest osmanthus, the smoothest organic bergamot, the loveliest orris root.

Scents of the Soul - a beautiful soul, an incredibly talented perfumer, a man of true spiritual devotion and conviction, a man I am honored to call my friend and have as a member of the Guild. Saluto, Salaam.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Associate Natural Perfumers Guild Member Robert Tisserand Reveals Collaboration with Anya McCoy on Perfume Blend for new Body Care line

In one of the first perfume blending collaborative efforts of the Natural Perfumers Guild, noted aromatherapist Robert Tisserand reveals on his website that Guild president Anya McCoy assisted in the formulation of the perfume blend that scents his new Wild Rose and Lemon Leaf line. Robert is happy to display the Guild logo on his site and states "Wild Rose & Lemon Leaf is neither simply an aromatherapy blend, nor simply a fragrance, it's both." McCoy suggested, after evaluating the modification Robert sent her that lemon myrtle, typically a medium note with a candied lemon scent could assist as a top note in the proper amount - and it did.

The Wild Rose and Lemon Leaf line includes a body lotion, hand and cuticle cream and roll-on deodorant. Check the Tisserand website for stockists in your area, or order from the site.

Robert, recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists has published numerous books, including the classic The Art of Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals.

In another collaboration with Anya and Guild Associate Member Tony Burfield of Cropwatch Robert co-authored the FAQ and Primer on IFRA's proposed 40th Amendment in 2007.

Anya states that "Distinguished members such as Robert add to the wealth of knowledge and integrity of the Guild by bringing their decades of accomplishments and generous natures to our community. The Guild is a richer place for his presence."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Natural Perfumers Guild Professional Perfumer Rohanna Goodwin Smith to Present Natural Perfumery

Natural Perfumer Rohanna Goodwin Smith

studied with Mandy Aftel and subsequently launched Ascent Natural Perfumes in 2007 in Gibsons, BC Canada. Rohanna will be teaching on the beauty and benefits of natural perfumery at a "All About Moms and Me" event on May 25, 2008. The presentation is part of an all-day celebration to honor the mother and daughter connection. The exact time of Rohanna's presentation TBA. You can write her at Ascent Natural Perfumes for more details.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Egyptologist and Perfumer David Mark - Expert Q&A Guest in Anya's Garden Natural Perfumery online Class

On Saturday, May 3, 2008 Egyptologist and Perfumer David Mark of Chicago's Renaissance Aromas was the guest for the Expert Q&A session (formerly known as Guest Lecturer series) in
Anya's Garden online Natural Perfumery class.

Originally scheduled for the Spring 2008 students' Module, due to popular demand the Fall 2007 students joined the Q&A, resulting in a student audience of 45 for Marks' session. David had just returned from an Egyptologist conference in Seattle, so he was brimming with news and scholarly insight to share with the students.

The subject was the legendary and mysterious Egyptian incense known as kyphi. David has studied kyphi for many years, and he explained that there is no one kyphi recipe - the use of kyphi spanned many dynasties and changed according to new ingredients being introduced to Egypt by trade route introductions. Additionally, it is impossible today to recreate some of the kyphi recipes, since the ancient Egyptian language is now dead, and many of the word descriptors are not related to any plant aromatic known today.

A fun discourse occurred when the subject of one recipe came up - peeled and seeded raisins. Conjecture was that perhaps the word raisin was referring to the date fruit - a more likely ingredient, given the difficulty of peeling and seeding the tiny fruit we today call raisins.

David emphasized that the ancient Egyptians were the original natural perfumers, and the discussion turned to oil and solid perfumes. He promised he will return for a further Q&A on the subject of ancient Egyptian perfume formulas, which is near and dear to his heart.

Natural Perfumers Guild President Anya McCoy, teacher and host of the Q&A noted that there seemed to be enough different recipes for kyphi to elevate the study to a fragrance family study, and that perhaps a coffret of kyphi perfumes (not incense) could be developed to reflect that, e.g., a gourmand kyphi, a herbal kyphi, an Oriental kyphi.

The medicinal use of some kyphis was also discussed, and the historical and spiritual significance of the blends were acknowledged with references to books and journals for further study. All the questions and answers are archived as emails for the student's future reference.

David has graciously volunteered to be the Expert Q&A for all future Module 1 classes in the online program.

David Mark Covill is a Natural Perfumer & Owner of Renaissance Aromas, Inc.; “Natural Fragrances Reborn”, Makers of Authentic, Luxury Potpourris, Sachets & Pomanders TM (website and company launch TBA shortly)

David is also a Charter Associate Member of the Natural Perfumers Guild and a longtime Member of the Yahoo Natural Perfumery Group

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cropwatch Asks for your Input

CROPWATCH AT THE CROSSROADS - looking for your feedback

note: if you wish to contact Tony about the questions below, you can write him at

After 4 or 5 years of continuous activity, Cropwatch has some choices to make. Do we go on the way that we have been, snapping at the ankles of those who run & regulate the aroma industry so badly, or should we 'old dogs' learn some new tricks? Cropwatch supporters, and organisations sympathetic to our aims, regularly offer us donations and advise us of potential sources of grants, to which we have always said 'no thanks, we're non-financed'. Our current thinking is that this might be a mistake, since we are limiting our potential effectiveness. .

We are certainly not asking everyone for money, but we are asking you to help us with some feedback on how a financial input could potentially help the aroma world to become a better & fairer place, so please mail us if you have any thoughts or ideas.

Our initial list of ideas to use donated funding would be:

1. To finance risk/benefit studies on natural aromatic products. This research is needed because the existing major players such as IFRA/RIFM, are set up only to investigate the risks/hazards of fragrance ingredients (but not the benefits), & EFFA can only present the safety risks of essential oils, absolutes, resinoids etc in terms of the imagined hazards of the individual contained chemicals, rather than adopting a holistic approach for the aromatic ingredient as a whole. Therefore both organisations are badly positioned to defend natural aromatic ingredients against the current avalanche of restrictive legislation.

The EU Commissioners have previously declined to accept safety-data based on risk/benefit considerations, although we believe this policy to be untenable in the long-term - it is the norm in virtually every other regulatory area (biocides, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc).

[Neither is this just a European problem. The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce have just announced draft legislation (Global Harmonisation Act 2008) intended stimulate discussion on how to provide adequate funding and authority for the FDA to ensure the safety of the nation's food, drug, medical device and cosmetic supply in an increasingly globalised marketplace. The draft legislation already highlights several areas which will affect the fragrance industry].

2. To develop statistical data on the adverse effects of restricted & prohibited aromatic materials. This data would be a potential bombshell to blow apart the over-precautionary approaches of the cosmetic regulators and career toxicologists, who are in such a powerful position in global regulatory circles. Where this data exists (e.g. the Schnuch data on alleged allergens) it is already causing red faces. The EU Commissioner has previously indicated to Cropwatch (Brussels 2007) that this type of adverse reaction data is inadmissible as safety evidence. But if you are familiar with English history, you might recall that King Canute failed to hold back the waves and so his followers realised he was not all-powerful. So too, the regulators will not be able to ignore the fact that many restrictions on natural products are based on corporate toxicological constructs which don't manifest in the great numbers of negative health effects predicted.

3. To assist with the growing & production of useful commodities from threatened aromatic plants, for cosmetic, aromatherapeutic, flavour & medicinal outlets, in a way that benefits the poor.

4. To set up or help set up a natural aromatics products professional body, with the help of other interested parties. Already we can identify several sub-divided areas which badly need assistance: natural perfumery, the use of naturals within conventional perfumery, natural biocides, herbal drugs & medicines, aromatherapy, natural cosmetics etc.

5. The lobbying of officials & regulators. As we have seen, the more the establishment closes ranks (and its mind) to contrary & dissenting views, the more popular support we have been able to attract. In terms of numbers we are potentially a powerful force. However we have to ask ourselves whether there is any point in continuing the lobbying game. Many of the points we make go unanswered because the officials involved are not sufficiently technically adept or experienced to even understand the arguments put forward. So is it better to plough ahead with a voluntary regulatory system of our own making - at least we might have the experience, familiarity & resources to do a better job. The enormity of the task is detracting, but this is put more into perspective if sufficient funding were to be available.

6. To keep the flame of our traditional perfumery heritage alight. When we read that several major aroma corporations are training fledgling perfumers in pure synthetic perfumery, it makes us wonder if the world has gone quite mad. Once perfumers used to be creative artists with forthright temperaments, views and opinions, passionate about their art. Now, are we all to be reduced to company drones?

I was related a story recently concerning a certain essential oils salesman who offered unmarked samples of real good quality Bulgarian lavender oil, and a synthetic lavender construct to a group of young perfumers at a certain megacorporation. The group preferred the artificial lavender construct because "it smelled like linalyl acetate, like its supposed to." Heaven help us! But maybe some of us 'old-timers' should organise courses & lectures to pass on the 'ancient knowledge of the art of perfumery' before it is lost forever.

OK, after 5 or so years of trying, we pretty much know what the problems facing us are - what we don't have is a consensus on the best way to solve them. Maybe you can help?
Cropwatch Team