Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare blog

Archive for the ‘Fragrance’ category

Best friends, co-authors of The Perfume Bible and acclaimed fragrance experts, Lorna McKay and Josephine Fairley are what you might call perfume professionals (Lorna even helped us develop all three of our Botanical Essence fine fragrances).

Both tell us Botanical Essence No.100 is one of their favourite Liz Earle fragrances, so what is it exactly that’s managed to capture the imaginations of two women who smell perfume for a living? Below, they share their fragrant musings about the comeback of a modern classic in the making. To find out more about the power of perfume, visit their website at perfumesociety.org

Sum up No.100 in two lines for somebody who’s never experienced it…

Josephine: It’s a good mood in a bottle which is probably due to genuinely high quality of the natural ingredients at its heart. I’d describe the scent as ‘sunny’ but despite such freshness, it genuinely lasts and lasts.

Lorna: Quite simply, wearing this scent recreates the same joy and sunshine I feel when I walk into a British florist’s shop. I’m delighted I can stop stockpiling the fragrance now it’s no longer a limited edition!

What makes No.100 totally unique?

Josephine: No.100 is an extension of my love affair with Liz Earle’s skincare, so it was always going to have a place on my dressing table next to my beloved Superskin™ Moisturiser (because a bathroom’s actually the worst place to keep perfume, with all those temperature changes!). Liz and I have become great friends over the years and I know she’s a perfectionist who would never put her name to something she didn’t believe in 1000% (yes, that’s a thousand!).

Lorna: Quality, quality and quality, as well as exceptional value for money. Creating a floral fragrance with 89% natural ingredients is no mean feat, but the craftsmanship of its talented Master Perfumer, Alienor Massenet, quite brilliantly succeeded at the challenge.

Explain why No.100 wows so many different woman…

Josephine: It’s a real crowd-pleaser perfume because you can wear it whenever, wherever – it’s defiantly ‘there’, but never overwhelms. I’ve given it to all sorts of friends who I’ve been unsure of, fragrance-wise, because I’ve barely met anyone who doesn’t love it and enjoy wearing it. Women often tell that when they’re wearing No.100, lots of other people ask what they’re wearing – and that’s always a good sign.

Lorna: Because the blend has such a high percentage of natural ingredients, it unfolds differently on everyone – so you’re giving the gift a signature scent that’s completely personal to the wearer. It’s uplifting, nature also makes it completely ageless – whether you’re 19 or 90, people need a little extra boost on occasions.

Alienor Massenet is the award-winning French perfumer who has helped us create our new Botanical Essence No.15. I caught up with her at our press launch to find out a little more about the fascinating world of fragrance.

Hannah: What inspired you to become a perfumer?
Alienor: I knew I was interested in fragrance from a young age – I used to smell everything my mother put in front of me! I decided to become a perfumer at 20, when I paid for my vacation by selling perfumed candles I had made myself in my kitchen.

Hannah: Did you enjoy creating Botanical Essence No.15?
Alienor: Yes. It is very rare to be asked to use such a high level of natural ingredients, particularly for an oriental fragrance; other perfumers shy away from a brief to use high levels of naturals as it’s easier to use synthetics. It’s also unusual to work with such a high spend per kilo – it meant we could choose ingredients of a very high quality. I felt like a chef who gets to play with all the special ingredients!

Hannah: How is Botanical Essence No.15 different to Botanical Essence No.1?
Alienor: Fragrances are generally categorised by family depending on how they smell and the degree to which each ingredient is used. The two botanical essences sit in two very different fragrance families; Botanical Essence No.1 is classed as a Fresh Citrus whereas Botanical Essence No.15 is a Fresh Spicy Oriental.

Hannah: Why is Botanical Essence No.15 called a ‘modern’ fresh oriental?
Alienor: Unlike more traditional oriental fragrances, Botanical Essence No.15 doesn’t have such a fruity, gourmand effect. This is because of the combination and concentration of natural ingredients we’ve used, particularly the cedarwood oil and cypriol in the background which give the fragrance a very clean, very fresh, sexy note which you don’t find in a traditional oriental scents. To have this freshness coming from the background of an oriental fragrance rather than the top of the fragrance is very new.

Hannah: And why do you describe it as a ‘spherical’ fragrance?
Alienor: When you spray the fragrance on your skin, you have a tiny bit of bergamot and spice, but very quickly you smell the powerful rose and woods and the cocktail of vanilla, tonka bean and benzoin which are all wrapped together, so it becomes a very rounded fragrance. Botanical Essence No.1 is shaped like the Egyptian pyramids with its very distinctive citrus top notes, which give way to a floral heart and then woods at the base, but Botanical Essence No.15 is more like the Guggenheim Museum – very modern and round, where you see everything at the same time.

Hannah: Are there any particular ingredients in Botanical Essence No.15 that you love?
Alienor: It’s been incredibly exciting to use real Indian sandalwood again. I remember smelling its creamy, milky effect when I first started at IFF, but it has been an endangered ingredient for a very long time, and so it’s wonderful that we now have a sustainable source grown in Australia and are therefore able to include it. I also love cypriol, which is not too different from patchouli, but less dark. The Damask rose is also very special – we use a blend that comes from Bulgarian rose petals, which are beautifully apple-like and fruity, and rose petals from Turkey, which have more spiciness. This rose combination works really well with the pink pepper and the cinnamon leaf to give the fragrance a feminine spiciness.

Hannah: What brief did we give you and how long did it take you to complete?
Alienor: I was asked to create an oriental that was very sensual, captivating and very feminine with a lot of naturals. It took me about a year to perfect it.

Hannah: What do you think we are going to see in the fragrance industry in the next year or two?
Alienor: The world is changing a lot and different continents want different scents. People in Brazil, say, have very different tastes in fragrance to people in China or France or North America. I think having a fragrance that is a little bit more personal to you is going to be very important. Fragrances will need to take you on a personal journey or trip somewhere.

Hannah: And which trip do you hope people will make when they wear Botanical Essence No.15?
Alienor: Good question! I think somewhere in Asia, because you have the cinnamon, the warm humid quality from all those woods, and the patchouli from Indonesia. Its warm, sensual attraction reminds me most of India and Asia.

On one of my frequent visits to Grasse, the fragrance capital of the world, I took time out to meet up with Jean-Charles Niel, the distinguished perfumer who created our Botanical Essence No. 1. Jean-Charles has been involved in the fabulous world of fragrance since birth, so I thought it would be great to ask him a few questions about his career and experience working with Liz Earle.

Jean-Charles was born in Grasse and, as a boy, always imagined that he would be a pilot or a surgeon. However, throughout his childhood, he was surrounded by discussions of perfume and natural ingredients since his father was president of the leading natural raw material company at the time. This company had a pioneering lady named Monique Rémy as their Technical Manager.  Like Liz Earle, Monique was passionate about the finest quality natural ingredients and later set up Laboratoire Monique Rémy to source and produce the best raw ingredients in the world. She watched Jean-Charles grow up and was probably not too surprised when he abandoned his previous career aspirations and started to train as a perfumer. His excellent ‘nose’ continued to develop as he found inspiration in his love of art, classical music and fine wine!

Lorna: How has the career of a perfumer changed in the last 30 years?

Jean-Charles: These days the young perfumer must be an artist, but having a chemistry background as a starting point is a plus. When I started, things were different, with a daily emphasis on building olfactive memory and blending naturals and molecules from around the world. Today, while some rules are necessary, they are much more complex and restrictive. The more tests the authorities insist on, the more prohibitive the prices and the harder it is to be creative. There are also far more fragrances around nowadays, with a large number of celebrities’ fragrances regularly launched onto the market.

Lorna: What was it like working with the Liz Earle team?

Jean-Charles: In my entire career, I have never enjoyed such freedom when creating a fragrance. I did not believe it at first, but once I met Liz and Kim, I understood how totally committed they were to the creation of the finest possible fragrance. Their goal was a luxury fragrance at an affordable price – the value for money that Botanical Essence No. 1 offers is exceptional.

Lorna: What is the most exciting element when creating a fragrance?

Jean-Charles: The brief! (This is the communication from a company describing the type of fragrance they want the perfumer to create.) When you work with people, you need to listen to their words, guess what they think, discover what they like and what they don’t like. You work together to narrow down creative options and end up with the closest olfactive illustration of their vision. This can be a lengthy process, just like it was with Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1! We took a long time to perfect the right smell for your signature scent.

Lorna: Why did you want to work with Liz Earle?

Jean-Charles: Liz’s love of naturals matched my experience really well. Not many people know how to work with so many natural ingredients these days, and I had to rediscover how some of these ingredients interacted with each other, which was so exciting having been born into this field.

Lorna: How did the challenge of creating the Liz Earle fragrance differ from other companies?

Jean-Charles: The fragrance embodies Liz’s philosophy, so it had to be a journey from excellent skincare into excellent fragrance. The desire to be as natural as possible was unusual as it is so much more difficult to create a successful, totally natural fragrance. It had to be compatible with her philosophy of wellbeing yet also be respected in the world of ‘fine’ fragrances. The Liz Earle team allowed the fragrance to be developed the way perfumery used to be done to get the best possible formula. Liz Earle is the epitome of good taste.

Botanical Essence No. 1Lorna: Which of the fragrances you’ve created are you particularly proud of?

Jean-Charles: Magie Noire by Lancôme, Red by Giorgio, Silence by Jacomo and, of course, Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1!

Lorna: What are your favourite fragrance notes to work with?

Jean-Charles: I love working with natural ingredients which are found in the Chypre family. I especially enjoy the combination of patchouli and rose as they blend so well together, and also love adding sophistication through the use of Florentine orris.

Lorna: What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Jean-Charles: Seeing my babies born!

Lorna: What do you think are the major trends in the perfumery industry at the moment?

Jean-Charles: The olfactory trends are easy-to-wear fruity floral, crystal clear and fresh fragrances with a subdued sensuality, but I do see things leaning towards the more feminine, gourmand, sensual, even sexy notes.

Christmas shopping evening
If you would like to find out more about the development of Botanical Essence No.1, join me and the Liz Earle team at the London store for an exclusive Christmas shopping evening on Thursday 24th November between 6.30pm and 8pm. I’ll be sharing some stories with you from the world of perfume, and there’ll be a complimentary engraving service in store for everyone buying a bottle of Botanical Essence No.1 on the day*. There’s also a chance to win a Liz Earle Ultimate Hamper, which includes a bottle of our fine fragrance engraved with the initials of your choice*.

All guests will leave with a gorgeous little goody bag packed with treats for you to take home and try*. Spaces for this event are limited and tickets are £10, redeemable against any purchase on the night. To reserve your place at this very special evening and to book the complimentary engraving service, please call 01983 813562 between 9am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

*Subject to availability, while stocks last.  Terms and conditions apply. Separate terms and conditions apply to prize draw.

Perfume is centuries old. The ancient Egyptians used perfumed resins from trees and plants and burnt these as an offering to the gods, inspiring the name ‘perfume’ – from the Latin ‘per fumum’, which means ‘through smoke’. They later began to use these aromatic resins, balms, oils and spices on their skin and these were so popular they became more precious than gold. The ancient Chinese, Hindus, Israelites, Carthaginians, Arabs, Greeks and Romans also in some way incorporated perfume into their culture – whether it was a gift to please the Gods or used to fragrance their animals.

Scent and society
There has always been a strong link between scent and society, and the formulations, ingredients and ‘style’ of perfumes closely reflected each era. The launch of Chanel No 5 embodied the roaring 1920s, first introducing aldehydes in perfume: an uplifting ingredient that was perfect for creating a ‘feel-good factor’ after the war. By the end of World War II, society craved new beginnings and luxury and perfumers responded to this by introducing ‘the green note’ to fragrances.

The 1950s started an era of youth culture and rock ‘n roll. Estee Lauder epitomised this with the creation of Youth Dew: a strong, powerful scent. By the 1970s we began to see a huge variety of different scents evolving, from the lighter Chanel No 19 to the heavier Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, starting the trend for a scent to suit every occasion.

The 1980s was an era when big, bold fragrances and fashions dominated. Giorgio by Fred Hayman was so overpowering that some restaurants banned it and, for many of us, Poison by Dior brings back memories of big shoulder pads and a cash-rich culture.

A global recession in the 1990s brought about a more caring, sharing idealism, as reflected by the launch of CK One by Calvin Klein – a transparent, sheer fragrance for all. Then, as the media has become more prevalent in society, the art of perfumery was taken over by the power of celebrity, with the introduction of many mass produced perfumes. With so many launches of similar scents, we’re now starting to see the emergence of a new era, where customers desire an original, high quality fragrance – something that uplifts them with every inhalation.

The need for something different
With our first fine fragrance, Botanical Essence No. 1, we travelled the world in search of unparalleled sources of essential oils and used cutting-edge technology to perfect each individual note. We wanted to harness the finest quality botanical ingredients from around the world to create a vibrant, sparkling perfume that is unique to the wearer.

With over 98% of naturally-derived ingredients and an intricate blend of 14 essential oils, Botanical Essence No. 1 will, by its very nature, smell slightly differently on everyone. Bespoke for the wearer, the way the fragrance’s initial scent develops is dependant on your skin type, hair colour and lifestyle. I love to compare how it smells on different friends. For me, the serene, feminine floral notes of damask rose and geranium really last, while some of my friends have found the warm, sensual base notes of patchouli and cedarwood are more distinct. So, my top tip is: don’t rely on how a fragrance smells on someone else – always try it on your own skin or you’ll never know what you’re missing!

The art of perfumery
The secret of a great perfume lies not only in the quality of ingredients, but also with the skill of how it is crafted. We chose our perfumer very carefully. Jean-Charles Niel has a wealth of experience, a passion for working with natural ingredients and truly respects the ‘art of perfumery’, just like his father before him. Living in Grasse, the heart of the perfume world, he is inspired by the beautiful natural scents from the nearby jasmine and rose fields.

Having worked for over 30 years in the fragrance industry, I was delighted to be involved with my good friends Liz and Kim in the development of their first fine fragrance. Our passion and principles are closely matched and I truly believe in the quality of ingredients  behind the crafting of this exceptional perfume. It’s been wonderful reading your comments and some of you have told me that Botanical Essence No. 1 is now your ‘signature scent’. I can only say what an honour it has been to be a part of the fragrance legacy I am so passionate about.

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to help our fragrance expert Lorna McKay (click here for Lorna’s past blogs) and our Botanical Research Manager, as we filmed some helpful hints on fragrance for our website. I have long been a fragrance lover (it started even before I began using skincare, as a teenager) but there is still so much to learn, and I’d like to share some fascinating snippets from my morning with the ladies with you.

Lorna has been in the perfume industry for over 30 years. She first met Liz whilst she was Beauty Buyer at Harrods, and then went on to open the world-famous fragrance hall at Liberty. Lorna was also one of our original testers for the Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare range – and is still a devotee today, working with Lorna to develop Botanical Essence No.1 was a natural step for us – her passion is inspiring;  here are some new tips that I learnt from her.

Lorna’s top fragrance tips

- Apply fragrance to what Lorna calls ‘your hot spots’ – i.e. your pulse points. Slightly more seductively, she also recommends what Coco Chanel first suggested: apply it where you’d like to be kissed. As Lorna lives in France (in fact she has a home right in the heart of ‘fragrance country’, in Grasse), she frequently finds herself kissing friends on both cheeks– she can always detect a new fragrance and work out what people are wearing. Our Botanical Essence No. 1 is very special though, as it smells different on each person; what Lorna calls, a bespoke fragrance.

- Did you know that your diet, hair colour and skin type, as well as environmental factors all affect how fragrance smells on you? Especially a natural one like ours (which is over 98% directly derived from natural ingredients). Apparently red heads traditionally find fragrance a little more tricky to get right than other hair colours. A person with a tendency to oily skin also seems to hold fragrance for longer. And the best way to hold fragrance is to spritz on clean hair – it really works.

- Lorna’s top ‘wearing and caring’ tips include keeping Botanical Essence No. 1 in its box, to avoid heat and light affecting it. Also, your personal fragrance circle should only be the distance of your arm sweep – none of that ‘leaving your fragrance behind you as you leave a room’ stuff! Her top tip, however, is not to break the heart of the fragrance, by crushing it at the pulse points on the wrist – you literally break down the heart notes of the fragrance, so be warned.

- The beauty of using naturals, as Lorna say, is that you can create something new and wonderful. For instance, the heart notes of rose and lavender in our Botanical Essence No.1 fragrance are uplifted by the geranium, making the warm rose element, feminine, delicate and subtle; not at all like that old-fashioned rose aroma.

- And finally – did you know that the perfumer (or ‘nose’) has to learn 2,000 – 4,000 individual notes before he can craft his trade? A perfumer has to remember – for each of these notes – how it smells in the first ten minutes, and then in the next couple of hours too. Quite a feat.

I hope that you enjoy  Botanical Essence No. 1 as we head into spring. Here’s how many of you have described it to me, in the past few months: sophisticated, energising, upbeat, happy, feminine, a real boost, grown-up, feel-good, summer in a bottle, sunshine in a bottle, mood lifter and a little bit of sunshine on a dark day.

Enjoy spritzing…..

When I worked as a Perfumery and Cosmetics Buyer at Harrods I was lucky enough to indulge my passion for perfume on a daily basis. Then later, as the creator of the beauty department at Liberty’s store I learned even more about the world of fragrance.

Working with the perfume companies and visiting the perfumers in the fragrance capital of the world, Grasse, I became more knowledgeable about ingredients and about how fragrance can influence feelings. To say I became obsessed may be an understatement!

Liz, Kim and I have been friends and colleagues in the beauty industry and I am so grateful for Cleanse & Polish, Superskin (which I can’t live without) and all the other wonderfully indulgent products they create.

You can imagine how excited and flattered I was when Liz and Kim asked me to be part of the fragrance creation team. Imagine learning about these wonderful ingredients and being able to work with a world class perfumer to help create Liz Earle’s first fragrance.

Now, one year after we launched the award-winning Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1, I want to share some tips with you to ensure you get the most out of your fragrance.

•    Don’t crush the scent
Don’t rub wrists together when you apply the perfume, as you may crush the scent. The skilled perfumer works on the complex creation to ensure the smell develops continuously. As many of you know, you smell the lighter top notes first,  then the ‘heart ‘or middle notes and then the base notes, which give the perfume staying power. If you rub the perfume you ‘break its heart’ which means it doesn’t develop on the skin as it should and it flattens the scent.

•    Enjoy a little self indulgence
Spray the zesty, sparkling, uplifting fragrance into the air and allow the mist to envelop you as you walk into it. This will ensure you’re delicately scented and when someone comes near you they will smell the fine fragrance, even on your hair which holds onto scent very well.

•    Add scent to hot spots.
Spritz ‘where you want to be kissed’ said Coco Chanel. So spritz on the pulse points, temples, wrists, behind the ears, behind the knees, in the crease of your elbows, between your breasts, ankles, small of your back, navel and anywhere else you fancy. Botanical Essence No.1 is a naturally active fine fragrance, and thanks to the 98% of natural ingredients, it will react on contact with the skin to create your own unique signature scent.

•    Fragrance and sensitive skin
If you are sensitive to fragrance but would love to wear it, you can still enjoy the scent by spritzing the ends of your hair or spraying perfume on the hem of a skirt or a handkerchief. You can also spritz pillows, the linen cupboard and your underwear drawer to enjoy this uplifting scent. Remember though, different materials result in different fragrance development. Natural materials like cotton, linen and cashmere hold fragrance well, but some synthetic materials may not give you the best interpretation of the fragrance.

•    Spray more in the heat
If you are in a warm office environment or you have the heating up high do remember you may need to spritz a little more, as heat affects the longevity of scent. As our brain makes associations with certain smells, when I smell Botanical Essence No.1 I feel positive and my spirits are lifted. Ingredients like bergamot, lemon, and geranium help me to feel good, and as the nights draw in it is my little ray of sunshine. I need a handbag size really (Hint! Hint!) so I can carry my fragrance around with me to perk me up throughout the day.

Wearing a fragrance you truly love will help give you an immediate ‘feel-good’ effect from the moment you spray it on. A good fragrance will become your personal signature scent – a smell which reminds others of you, and evokes memories of happy times. Wearing a fragrance which lifts the spirits and induces these memories helps give you confidence. For me, I walk through a mist of Botanical Essence No. 1 just before leaving home and whenever I need a boost throughout the day – it works every time.

Take your time

Don’t feel pressurised to buy and try to avoid impulse purchases. Use fragrance blotters to test a selection of fragrances (don’t forget to write down the name of each fragrance on the blotters) and allow time for them to dry down and develop. Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences, spray them directly onto your skin (one at a time) and again allow time to dry down and give a true representation of how each fragrance will smell on you. You might be surprised with the differences you find, this is because fragrances can interact with the oils in our skin and change their character. The top notes, which you smell immediately give an initial impression of the fragrance but will fade and mingle with the heart and base notes – the true character of the fragrance. Only then will you be able to decide which fragrance is right for you.

Remember you are unique

Perfume can smell differently on each of us because of our individual skin type, our diet and age. The moisture and levels of acidity in the skin can also affect how long the fragrance will last and how the fragrance will react. For example, a perfume tends to last longer on people with oily skin, compared to people with dry skin. We all have our own ‘odour fingerprint’, which is why different scents smell beautiful on some people, and not so great on others.

How to apply…

I find that the best way to apply fragrance is to spritz the air and walk through it, letting the mist envelop me. This way my perfume is applied delicately all over. If you prefer to apply fragrance directly to your pulse points (wrists, sides of the neck and behind the knees) spritz onto the body 8-10cms away. When applying to the wrists, remember not to rub them together as this will crush the scent. For an extra boost, try spritzing fragrance onto your hair for long lasting freshness.

Less is more…

Everyone has a ‘scent circle’ – this is about arms length from the body and people should not be aware of your fragrance before they enter your circle. Your fragrance should not enter a room before you, or leave after you – even the nicest of scents are off-putting if you wear too much.

And finally how to care for your perfume…

The best place to keep your fragrance is in its box and out of direct sunlight and heat – your dressing table drawer is the perfect home. Heat and light can cause oxidisation which in turn means that your fragrance won’t smell its best.

I cannot believe it’s been 3 years since Liz and Kim asked me to help develop the first Liz Earle fragrance. Our friendship goes back many years to when I was the Beauty Buyer at Harrods and we would chat ‘beauty’ for hours. After leaving Harrods I set up the Liberty Beauty department before joining QVC as their first Beauty Buyer, 15 years ago. It was at this point that Liz and Kim approached me to ask my opinion of their new brand ‘Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare’ and I’ve followed the development of the brand ever since.

Liz and Kim know I am passionate about perfume and have always been on a mission to share my passion, particularly as the perfume world can be incredibly confusing with so many new fragrances launched each year. So you can imagine my excitement when we first spoke about a Liz Earle fragrance. My first question was ‘are we looking at a fine fragrance?’ This was very important to me as I think there are far too many average smells on the market. Knowing Liz and Kim so well, I knew we could produce something that customers would love and that the industry could respect.

My first task was to find great people to create a wonderful smell that both Liz and Kim would like – this created a huge potential problem for me as their taste in fragrance was quite different, just like their skin types. How could I find a “Cleanse and Polish fragrance” which would appeal to Liz, Kim and all their customers? We knew the fragrance had to have the very best quality ingredients and from customer feedback, the same uplifting feeling that you get from the skincare range.

We worked with a brilliant perfumer Jean Charles Niel in Grasse – the perfume capital of the world. Jean Charles really enjoyed meeting Liz and Kim during the development of the perfume, describing Liz as ‘the perfect English rose’. As I live near Grasse in the South of France, I was lucky to be able to work very closely with him and liaise frequently with Liz and Kim so we could create this fabulous fragrance. The task was big, the demands were great but I have to say it was extremely exhilarating to be involved in this fabulous project.

We had such fun and I am sure we have smelled thousands of variations to arrive at this truly unique smell. My colleagues in the industry are so pleased as their customers often complain that they like fresh florals but these usually do not last. Hopefully with Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1 (UK & IE) we have solved the search for many people.

Over the past few weeks I have been travelling around the UK to ensure that the whole Liz Earle team at the Green House, Union, the London flagship store and in John Lewis know about the fragrance. I have had so many messages on my phone asking what the team thought, so I was very pleased to tell Liz and Kim the response was overwhelming and the excitement tangible. I had a great time meeting the customer advisors and travelling with Nikki, Cristie and Leighton from Liz Earle. We were all so excited to share information about fragrance, the story of our perfume and of course, to spray it around liberally!

Thank you Liz and Kim for allowing me to indulge myself in the creative side of the perfumery world – I’m not sure if my husband and daughter agree as the whole house is now filled with even more bottles and books but I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every minute!

Today is a real milestone for us as for the very first time in our history we’re launching something new that isn’t skincare! Yes, today sees the unveiling of our first, very special fine fragrance, Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1. Today is actually the culmination of many years preparation, passion and planning. As you probably know, we always ask – and listen to – your requests and ideas, and having our very own ‘Liz Earle’ fragrance has been one of our most highly requested new product pleas. So Kim and I decided to talk to our long-standing friend and fragrance-guru extraordinaire, Lorna McKay for some ideas and inspiration. When I first met Lorna (some twenty five years ago) she was the fragrance buyer for Harrods, the number one perfumery hall in the world. She later went on to consult for QVC, which is also a good reason why we launched on the Shopping Channel. So as you can see, we do go back a very long way! Lorna is completely passionate about perfume and knows more about the subject than anyone we’ve ever met. She also now lives in the South of France, near Grasse – perfume capital of the world – another raison d’être for her to be involved.

So it was that over three years ago Kim and I first began our trips to Grasse to see both Lorna and talk to some of the world’s leading perfumiers or ‘noses’ as they are known in the trade. Lorna asked us what perfume we both currently wore and although we both had favourite fragrances, none overlapped, so we knew from the beginning that it would be quite a challenge to create a fine fragrance we would both wear and love. We wanted to create a fragrance inspired by the uplifting aroma of our Instant Boost Skin Tonic, something that could be worn by everyone regardless of age or skintype (just like our skincare). Key words for us were a feel-good fragrance, light, refreshing, reviving, heavenly-scented, energising and mood-enhancing. Finding the right perfumier was crucial and we met many, but immediately clicked with Jean Charles Niel, not only a renowned ‘nose’ born and bred in Grasse, but also linked to Laboratoire Monique Remy, suppliers of the finest quality organic and world-harvested botanical oils and aromatics. His brief was to create a wonderfully wearable, up-lifting, feminine, joyful fragrance, constructed in the traditional layered way of warm, sensual, woody base notes, a floral rosy ‘heart’ or centre of the perfume and light, sparkling, vibrant top notes that give the fragrance its initial ‘zing’ fresh from the bottle. Not only is the fragrance traditionally hand-crafted in this way, we also allowed time for the all-important maturation process which allows the perfume to fully develop before bottling – a time-consuming process more often skipped in today’s bottle-it-quick approach.

So to the crucial question – what does it actually smell like? Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1 is a fresh citrus with a warm floral centre that really lasts on the skin. Unusually rich in the finest quality natural ingredients (over 98% naturally-derived, compared with a mere 10% as a fine-fragrance norm), Botanical Essence No. 1 is a wonderfully addictive aromatic blend that both Kim and I totally adore! We’ve both lost count of the number of times we’ve been stopped and asked what it is we’re wearing – and until now we’ve had to say it was a top secret. Thankfully now the secret is out and ready for everyone to share and enjoy. Do let us know what you think.

In Grasse to visit one of our essential oil suppliers and to see first-hand how the plants are turned into high quality oils. Grasse is the traditional perfume capital of the world as the first fine fragrances were made from the flower oils that were grown in the hillside around this medieval walled town. Today, many of the centuries-old buildings remain but most of the flower fields have been ploughed up and built over. We are fortunate to work with one of the last remaining traditional fragrance oil makers, who distil and extract the highest quality natural aromatic essences.

The fine weather throughout southern Europe has meant that the jasmine harvest continued throughout September, instead of finishing a few weeks ago. As luck has it, we arrive just as the very last ten kilos of hand-picked jasmine blossoms arrive from the fields. I am especially keen to see this process as it is a key ‘naturally active’ ingredient in our Bliss Vital Oil range (UK) , (USA) and can be found in our Bliss Bath Oil, Body Spray and vegetable-wax candles. It takes about an hour to carefully pick a kilo of delicate jasmine flowers, so just two basketfuls represent ten hours of labour! Once the blossoms arrive, they are placed into a huge vat where the oil is extracted under pressure – a bit like a huge pressure cooker. The oil-rich flowers give up their volatile oils easily (unlike other more solid natural materials, such as tree bark or seed pods), so before long, a sweetly pungent, golden wax is being siphoned off into metal containers to be stored in cool, dark conditions until we need it. You can see why jasmine oil is so hugely expensive as not only to the flowers take so long to pick, the 10 kilos of petals produce just 30mls of jasmine absolute. In the next door processing room we could smell the extracting of tonka bean absolute, a key aromatic ingredient for fine fragrances. We followed the entire process, from the shiny brown pods being finely ground into powder before being sprinkled by hand onto blanched (odourless) straw and placed inside a round metal vat. It’s a time-consuming and labour-intensive process that hasn’t changed in fifty years or more. Once sealed into vats, the deliciously chocolately tonka bean aroma is extracted under pressure, a process that takes around 20 hours in all as beans are harder to extract from than oil-rich flowers. Other essential oils we saw in production included orris (ground iris root), one of the most expensive perfume ingredients due to its scarcity, lavender, oak moss and petitgrain (from the leaves and twigs of a citrus tree). The genuine essential oil business is built on a real labour of love and our hosts commented on how rare it is for them to work with an organisation such as ours that is prepared to pay for the genuine article. So often in the beauty world it is easier (and very much cheaper) to choose the synthetic option.

As our discussions turned to talk about neroli (the essential oil from orange blossom trees, which we use in Hand Repair (UK) , (USA) , Superbalm (UK) , (USA) and Superskin Concentrate (UK) , (USA) we discovered that we are using about 15% of the entire world’s supply – almost everyone else, apart from a few fine fragrance houses, has now switched to a synthetic chemical copy. We’re proud to be one of the few companies left that still supports this traditional, sustainable process, which not only supports small-scale local farmers and growers but also produces the very best quality, natural ingredients.