Artificial Fragrances: Why Smell Like a Celebrity?

rihanna perfume

Artificial fragrances are rampant in the celebrity perfume business. But why would you even want to smell like someone else in the first place?

I recently read a quote from Emma Watson: “I can’t understand this (celebrity) fragrance thing,” she told the British Press Association. “Why would you want to smell like somebody else? Don’t you want to smell like yourself?”

You know, Emma, I totally agree with you. Why not smell like yourself? Or better yet, why not smell like aromas that you are naturally attracted to, blended in a way that creates a unique signature scent for you? Being a one-of-a-kind is something I think you, Emma, would understand.

‘s because of the years I spent working alongside Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients and a proponent of aromatherapy and pure essential oils, or maybe it’s because I have a very strong sense of smell. I like to think it’s because I appreciate uniqueness. But, like Emma, I don’t understand the appeal of celebrity fragrances.

Is another celebrity fragrance really necessary? There are hundreds of celebrity fragrances on the market. Britney Spears has at least 12 different perfumes. There are not enough days in the week for her to wear all of them. Every time a celebrity launches a fragrance or adds a new fragrance to their portfolio I have to roll my eyes and think “am I missing something?” Nothing personal, Britney, but even though I’ve done your makeup a few times, I don’t know you well enough to want to smell like you.

Each of us is so unique in our tastes (our personal likes and dislikes especially when it comes to scent) that even if you love the celebrity whose perfume you are purchasing, you may not be attracted to the same smells as they are. Remember too: what smells good on one person doesn’t always smell good on others. And commercially available fragrances are created with synthetic and artificial ingredients including chemicals boosters and fixatives that give the aroma a strong longer lasting effect.

Which brings me to another point: the majority of what you’re paying for when you dish out the $50 to $100+ dollars at the cash register is not what’s in the bottle. The largest percentage of your hard-earned money goes to pay for overhead costs, profits for the manufacturer and seller, marketing costs, and sales commissions. Next, you pay for the beautiful bottle specifically created for the perfume as well as additional packaging costs. Let’s not forget that celebrities are not lending their name to a product for free, either: celebrity endorsements or licensing costs you, the end consumer.

Believe it or not, one of the least expensive parts of a fragrance is the actual perfume or “juice” in the bottle. This is because even if the juice contains expensive ingredients they are used in such small quantities and mixed with other, mostly synthetic ingredients and artificial fragrances to create the final product. And here is the crazy thing: the FDA does not require fragrance manufacturers to disclose the ingredients of (synthetic) fragrances because these formulas are regarded as “proprietary” and are protected under the FDA’s “trade secret” law. And by the way, the chances of the celebrity whose name on the bottle is actually wearing the fragrance you are purchasing are pretty slim (unless of course they are at an event promoting the fragrance).

So, what’s the alternative?

A Purefume rather than Perfume (I heard the word purefume for the first time from Horst Rechelbacher): customized scents created with pure essential oils derived from plant materials that harmonize with, rather than mask, an individual’s unique scent.

According to Kelly Holland Azzaro, registered Aromatherapist and former President of NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) there are many reasons for using essential oils instead of perfumes and artificial fragrances:

-Essential oils are natural botanicals aromas not synthetic or chemical laden smells.

-Essential oils do more than just smell good they have therapeutic properties that affect your well being.

-Most essential oils also have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

-Essential oils are not as invasive as artificial perfumes (which can cause health problems for those with upper respiratory issues and breathing difficulties or those hypersensitive to smells or chemicals).

-And for those that want a unique “purefume,” essential oils blend with a person’s individual smell, creating a very unique personal aroma. Can you say unforgettable?

Kelly advises that if you are not sure where to start, work with a professional aromatherapist who has been trained in the safe use of essential oils.

For the record, the word “fragrance” means a sweet or delicate odor. “Perfume” means a liquid substance that you put on your body in small amounts in order to smell pleasant; it can be created with either natural or synthetic ingredients. Only the words “essential oils” mean a substance obtained from a plant (ie from nature).

Here’s how to create a signature aroma using essential oils:

Margaret Fink, former Aveda Director of Education, advises that the best way to create a truly individual essential oil blend is to “go on a sensory journey”. Our olfactory system is linked to memory; you may find different smells even affect your mood and emotions. The best way to find what you love is to smell a variety of essential oils (singular notes as they are called) and identify the essences you are most attracted to. Once you’ve identified 3 to 4 scents (or notes) that affect you positively, they can be blended into a composition that is truly original “you bottled.” You can even decide to purchase the individual oils and mix or blend into additional mediums such as bath water, body lotion, and even be diffused into your environment. Layering your aroma makes it last longer without the addition of synthetic fixatives and boosters.

Don’t know where to start? Michelle Moulin Markuson, Aromatherapist and founder of Blending Babes, recommends sandalwood, cedar and rose as great aromas to transition into autumn. As a former Aveda alumni, Michelle started Blending Babes because she was done buying other companies’ scents. Michelle wanted to make essential oils, safe, easily available and affordable. Michelle’s company sells beautiful essential oils blends, hydrosols, and more on line.

Get sniffing and find a scent makes you feel like a celebrity.

Find Fatima on Twitter @fatimaolive 

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