Extracted from ‘Look Great Naturally Without Ditching the Lipstick’ (Hay House)

The sense of smell is incredibly important. Our fifth sense is apparently a thousand times more powerful than our sense of taste. Smells bring back memories, keep us healthy, lead to seduction and have a direct effect on the most primitive part of our brain, which is called the limbic system. The limbic brain is the seat of our emotions. Our feelings of fear and anxiety, happiness and contentment are all created in this part of the brain, and it controls emotions and memory. It is also connected to the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems, and controls all functions of survival, including digestion, respiration, circulation and reproduction.

Every whiff that reaches our nose has an effect on our body, whether good or bad. Odours influence what we remember, how we feel, how we learn, whom we have sex with, even how often! Good aromas are therapeutic. I had my first aromatherapy massage and literally thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It wasn’t merely ‘pampering’, though; much as I felt massaged and had a good sense of well-being I believe it was also healing. My aromatherapist used her intuition, and of course my symptoms, to determine which oils she needed to blend to keep me well. There were many occasions when I’d go in feeling very stressed and anxious, with aches and pains or flu-like symptoms, and emerge feeling confident and bursting with energy, with no sign of a cold!

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Traditionally perfumes are made from plant and animal substances and prepared in the form of waters, oils, powders and incense. There is a huge difference between natural and synthetic fragrance, not only in what they are made from but, more critically, how they affect the body. Most modern perfumes are alcohol-based and contain 20 per cent or more synthetic scents. They are created by mixing a solvent, a fixative and a fragrant compound. The alcohol used is often of poor quality and can affect the liver and cause sensitizing skin reactions such as white spots when exposed to the sun.

I asked Petre Sefton to explain the differences between natural and synthetic fragrances and their effect on us. I attended one of her organic perfume making courses, and it was a wonderfully fun and inspiring experience.

For centuries natural perfumes were created with scented oils extracted by pressing, pulverizing or distilling aromatic vegetable and animal substances. The fragrance of aromatic plants and trees originates as droplets of highly volatile non-greasy oil produced and stored in tiny glands located throughout the plant – in the rind of a fruit, the roots, resin or heartwood of a tree. These essential oils are powerful and effective tools to affect the mind and the emotions. Because they are made up of light, volatile chemicals they are easily and rapidly absorbed by the nasal mucosa with great therapeutic potential – physical and mental. Essential oils are expensive to produce, and it’s no surprise that modern commerce sought cheaper chemical substitutes. They also often use solvents instead of distillation to extract precious scents

Lift Your Spirits with Oils

Therapists and psychologists are increasingly using essential oils in treatments. It is possible to completely alter your frame of mind in a matter of minutes with these precious essences of nature. Essential oils have an impact on both right and left hemispheres of the brain: the left brain, being the orderly, thinking brain, most alert during the day; the right brain, the creative side that deals with emotion and imagination, is more active at night. Natural fragrances can be engineered to affect one side of the brain more than the other, or even to act as a bridge between them. Natural fragrances also act on the pheromones, the natural chemical scents the body produces in order to communicate with others nearby. Their ‘perfume’ helps us tell lovers (actual and potential) and family members from strangers, and allows mothers and infants to bond.

The natural fragrance molecules don’t last as long as the synthetics because they are much more volatile. But they don’t smother our own personal body fragrance, rather they combine to make a unique glowing bouquet that speaks to our inner being via the limbic brain. Natural perfumery can be used for emotional communication and healing in a way that synthetic perfumery cannot.

Whilst the role of traditional perfumery is essentially aesthetic – to adorn and to attract – natural or ‘spiritual’ perfumery involves the adornment of the soul as well as of the body – with a goal not only to evoke beauty, but also to invoke inner harmony. A natural perfume, therefore, is a potential tool for emotional healing – as long as it is created with a sensitive understanding of the person who will wear it.

Making an ‘Auric’ Fragrance

You can make a natural fragrance by combining as few as three essential oils in a base of good quality sweet almond oil. This can then be used as a lotion to massage the body, too.

First you need the initial impact for a fragrance, known as the ‘top note’ or ‘head note’. It’s usually a light fragrance that gets your attention but then seems to die down after a few minutes. The middle or ‘heart note’ is deeper and more subtle and remains more constant in the fragrance. Then there’s the ‘base note’, which underpins the other two and becomes more noticeable as the aroma of the other two starts to fade away. As you experiment, remember that smelling a perfume straight from the bottle is not the same as smelling it on your skin!


Choose a head note, a heart note and a base note.

To give you an idea of which essential oils correspond with these notes, here’s a rough guide.

  • Head notes – lemon, oregano, orange, basil, bergamot, lavender, ylang ylang
  • Heart notes – rose, geranium, cedarwood, chamomile, neroli, rosemary 
  • Base notes – clove, nutmeg, sandalwood, rosewood, clary sage, cinnamon, patchouli, ginger, juniper, black pepper
  1. Find a few of each type of oil and lay them out in front of you. Smell them quickly and see if you can imagine how they might blend with the others, then experiment, making sure you have a small glass bottle to hand and essential oils with dropper bottles.
  2. Put 1 drop of each of the oils you choose, so one head, one heart, one base, into a tablespoon of sweet almond oil. Swirl it around and see if it’s pleasing; if so, you can use a tiny bit dabbed on your wrist or in a massage oil.

Two Great Blends

  • 2 drops grapefruit
  • 2 drops rosemary
  • 2 drops juniper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil

This will be energizing and great to wear in the morning.


  • 3 drops orange
  • 3 drops neroli
  • 1 drop sandalwood
  • 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil

Wear this as a body ‘lotion’ and be seriously seductive!


If you love the beautiful fragrance of roses then check out Alteya Organics – their organic Bulgarian Rose Water is the world’s most exquisite 100% pure, natural, organic flower water. The beautiful fragrance, special qualities and plants’ synergy of organic rose water are well known all over the world.


They also create beautiful skin products that use the power of Bulgarian roses both the fragrance and the therapeutic properties. Organic Rose Otto Regenerating Concentrate – Bio Damascena is formulated with the highest quality rose oil in the world, this multiple award-winning product supports overall skin balance, improving the appearance of lines and wrinkles and encouraging a healthy natural glow!

Finally, a last word from Petre.

Perfume is our visiting card, the fragrance we leave behind us. We choose our fragrance to reflect who we want to be or seem to be. Your perfume may not be saying what you wish, it might also be affecting your health. Please choose with care.