Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Aromatherapy recipes to banish the gothic horrors of Autumn

 Ivon Hitchen, 'Autumn', 1941

I almost got there, Autumn half term that is. Every year I never quite fulfill eight weeks of teaching without falling quarry to some vile change of season/oozing child bug. Just 3 days before I break up for half term and I’m sick with a throat the colour of an overripe Persian pomegranate and a doddering demeanor. I blame Autumn, after all it is the season of vegetal death and loss of light. Unless you live in Technicolor New England, it’s rubbish.

With this in mind, I’m going to share my favourite aromatherapy recipes for the season. Some feel medicinal and others deliciously decadent.  All recipes are for 20 ml, a small portion for sampling.

Autumn mist defying anti-frizz hair oil:

10 mls Golden Cold Pressed Jojoba carrier oil
10 mls Argan carrier oil
10 drops of essential oils of your choice. I like a fresh barbershop vibe in a hair oil so I use:
5 drops High Altitude Lavender + 5 drops Neroli

Uses – You can massage a generous amount into your hair and scalp half an hour before washing as a deep conditioning treatment. This essential oil combination has excellent antibacterial and soothing qualities for an irritated scalp. After blow drying, apply a small amount as a serum to the mid lengths and ends to add shine and anti-humidity protection. Additionally, you can massage it into the nail bed to strengthen the nails and even shave or condition your beard with it. 

Man-flu bath oil (an invigorating, de-congesting and anti-bacterial blend for poorly times) 5 to 10 ml dose per bath

20 mls Fractionated Coconut oil (disperses in water unlike some carriers)
4 drops Peppermint
4 drops Rosemary
4 drops Tea Tree

Lie in the bath, read Vogue/GQ. Enjoy.

The Tea Tree plant - Nature's cure all wonder

Staying in on a cold wet night posh oil for face, hands, morale and libido

10 mls Golden Cold Pressed Jojoba carrier oil
10 mls Rosehip carrier oil
2 drops Jasmine Absolute
2 drops Rose Absolute (I prefer Damascena to Centifolia)
1 drop Neroli

This is an expensive elixir, but not nearly as expensive as a night out. There - I’ve enabled you. 
These powerful absolutes are known for being deeply comforting, anti-depressant, uplifting and sensuous. Perfect for making you feel serene and perhaps a tad more frisky after a long day. I use this as a facial massage oil and take great pleasure in doing the routine whilst listening to Bach’s Cello Concertos. This excellent video on Youtube will teach you how to do it effectively:

I also use a Jasmine, Rose and Neroli combo neat as an aroma-therapeutic perfume if I’m feeling low. Neat skin application is not recommended (I’m not recommending it) but I expect it’s not as dangerous as crack cocaine or gin.

Heartthrob Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser raises his libido by sniffing some Rosa Damascena (any excuse)

Hurry up Christmas room fragrancing essential oils

Using a burner (I like a standard tea light ceramic model), try these oils to get in the festive spirit:

Hemlock or Black Spruce (on it’s own) – of all the coniferous plants, Spruce is the most evocative Christmas tree smell, you’ll love this if you wear Ormonde Jayne Woman or Man.

Mulled spice oil:

1 drop Bay Leaf
1 drop Cinnamon Leaf
2 drops sweet or blood orange

Practical tips and sensible bits for newbies:

Although I love many inexpensive perfumes, I don’t recommend buying cheap aromatherapy supplies. In this instance, you get what you pay for. Cheap absolutes in particular are often awash with solvents that have not been removed properly after the extraction process and are often cut with cheaper synthetic substances. Yuk. Buy from a reputable supplier, not some charlatan offering it half price on Ebay.

As a general guide, you can use essential oils at around a 5% dilution on the body and 2% on the face. I stick to this rule on my sensitive facial skin and when making remedies for other people. However, I use whopping great doses in my personal use bath and body products and it hasn’t killed me yet.

Longevity – Essential oils don’t perish for a very long time (apart from some citruses). Carrier oils do. Jojoba oil is a superb natural preservative meaning that blends made with Jojoba don’t require any additions. You can mix it with cheaper carrier oils such as Sweet Almond or Grapeseed to make large quantities for the body. A 1% dose of Wheatgerm oil will extend the life of anything else.

Essential oils are powerful medicines, some of which can be dangerous. Aromatherapy expert – Julia Lawless wrote two superb books which are great for beginners to gain a good level of both safety and aroma-therapeutic knowledge. These are:

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy - the best for beginners, including lots of tips about making your own medicinal and cosmetic preparations and a chapter about the psycho- aromatherapy and it’s application to perfumery.
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils - an essential reference for anyone who has been seduced by exotic and rare oils used in perfumery, includes lots of information about how to avoid irritation and brain damage (Wormwood, that’s you I’m referring to). An excellent book for those with some existing knowledge wishing to extend their oil collection.

The recipes in this are unlikely to cause any reactions, but as with all aromatherapy products exercise caution or avoid if you are up the duff and check the encyclopedia for contra-indications if you have a serious medical condition.

Enjoyed reading this post? Why not subscribe using the link on the right hand side. Feedburner will send you an email asking you to confirm. Additionally, you can follow the link to the Facebook page.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: Clarins - Eau Dynamisante, my eldest fragrant friend.

This Saturday was probably some sort of scented anniversary. I say ‘probably’ as I’m being a bit over-romantic - I think it’s roughly the 25 year anniversary of the onset of my dependable and satisfying relationship with Clarins' stalwart scent - Eau Dynamisante. It has lasted longer than any of my relationships with men and seen me through life stages of goth, shoegazer, raver, art school libertine, festival queen, indie kid, grown up indie kid and whatever hybrid of nonsense I am now.

I marked it by buying yet another bargainous bottle.

What makes it’s so worthy of commitment? To me, it possesses all the qualities of a traditional European eau de cologne. It offers abounding refreshment (alike most lemony colognes) but has the addition of a whopping whiff of personality, a grand charisma far beyond what you would expect from something generally squirted to offer relief from heat or fatigue.

Clarins describe it as a ‘treatment fragrance’;

Aromatic essential oils with treatment properties (Lemon, Patchouli, White Thyme, Petit Grain and Rosemary): scent, promote a wonderful feeling of freshness, vitality and well-being”

It’s true. It does. What they neglect to say is that it also offers a sense of exoticism, enabled by truly spicy elements of cardamom, carnation and coriander seed, which make it feel extraordinarily warm after the initial lemony blast dissipates. In fact it’s almost oriental, a kind of schizophrenic scent borrowing from several genres; the earthy dry patchouli offers a serious chypre quality, the spices a heady oriental nuance, and a citrus herbal blend reminiscent of a historic eau de cologne in the manner of Guerlain or Roger and Gallet. This multifaceted feel renders it a more riotous experience than the rather medicinal marketing bumph implies.

The original invigorating eau de cologne, Jean Marie Farina

What is curious about this scent is that very few menfolk wear it. Although often criticised for being ‘too masculine’, it remains firmly in the female domain. I assume that its sales point is the problem. It takes a brave man to approach the department store Clarin’s counter. Whilst us females happily play amongst the lotions and lipsticks, comfortable in a world of feminine luxury, men can often feel a bit shifty. I’ve seen it in action. Whilst shopping with boyfriends I’ve hurried my purchases to reduce the inevitable uncomfortable bloke syndrome. I don’t understand why they fail to feel the lure of sticking their fingers in a sample pot of cream and instead stand at least a good 3 feet away from the counter looking nervous. It’s as if touching a product will make their manhood shrink (possibly permanently).

Fountain of fearsome girliness

If you can get over the fear boys, please do go and take a whiff next time you find yourself in a department store. If you adore the Blue Acqua di Parma range or the Guerlain Eau de Colognes, you might be quite smitten with Eau Dynamisante. The only negative is that (alike most citrus rich colognes) it doesn’t emit its grandness for more than a couple of hours, so if you require a long lasting scent this is the wrong genre for you. However, a gift set with shower gel, body lotion and 100 ml of fragrance costs just £32 so you can layer the products to give it a bit more tenacity.

Maybe the act of making my boyfriends accompany me to Clarins counters could be the reason why Eau Dynamisante has stayed with me for so many more years than they have. To 'Insert multiple names here', I'm sorry...