Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Exploration of Roses

My new friend, author and perfumista, J R Lankford, after writing such a lovely review of some of our Jasmines, has decided to explore Rose perfumes.  Before launching out into the world of perfumery, she decided first to explore them "in nascent form, i.e, as rose otto (i.e., rose oil or rose attar obtained thru steam distillation) or rose absolute (from extraction)."

We are honored to have her choose our Bouquet of Roses for her exploration. 

Do I agree with all of her comments?  No.  I love our Rose de Mai, and it wasn't her favorite.  Such is the extreme subjectivity of the aromatics we both love.  But her blog article is delightful and insightful.  You may read it here

Rosa centifolia from the rose fields of Grasse. My beloved Rose de Mai

Friday, April 18, 2014

Guest Blog Article

My friend and client, Mikki Melinda Anderson, of StressBusters Spa in Laguna Hills CA has taken a brave stand against dangerous practices in the Spa and Massage industries.  I'm glad she allowed us to share her writing here.

StressBusters’ Policy on Aromatouch and Raindrop Therapy

As a professional clinical Aromatherapist with thousands of certified educational hours in Aromatherapy from accredited schools, I am shocked to have recently learned that some very well-known spas in California now offer “Raindrop and Aromatouch Therapy”, using copious amounts of undiluted oils applied directly to the skin of the client.  We do not and will not offer these therapies and wanted our clients and community to know why.
 Mikki M. Anderson, Clinical Aromatherapist, StressBusters

While we make no statement about the companies offering these therapies, we do make a stand against the therapies above.  In the USA, the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) says : “There are persons performing Raindrop Therapy (RDT), who have not received training, observing proper curriculum standards. These public demonstrations and conferences have been presented to the general public as well as audiences of health care professionals including physicians, nurses, midwives, doulas, and massage therapists.” These therapies as they are currently performed cannot be supported as a recognized aromatherapy “best practice” because:

-          It promotes the unsafe use of essential oils, putting people at risk of skin irritation.
-          There is no published empirical substantiation to support its claims that RDT is a “tool for assisting the body in correcting defects in the curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis” and other claims.

In my several thousand hours of formal accredited Aromatherapy education, I have learned that these therapies are disapproved by (but not limited to):
  1. All reputable aromatherapy schools
  2. All professional Aromatherapists, (sample:,
  3. Robert Tisserand (author, “Essential Oil Safety” 2014) (see below)
  4. Aromatherapy Registration Council. (
  5. Reputable non multi-level marketing essential oil companies (sample:
  6. Alliance of International Aromatherapists:
  7. National Association of Holistic Aromathery (NAHA)
  8. Giselle Basturay (Clinical Aromatherapist, mother and store owner sums it up on her website:
StressBusters believes that practitioners and spas who offer the use of undiluted oils have not done their due diligence in researching the proper use of essential oils and/or may be interested in profits over safety.   If they had researched from reliable sources, these spas would have discovered that there is a pending and growing complaint to the FDA on behalf of clinical Aromatherapists across the United States.   Burns, sickness, extensive skin reactions and even DNA damage have occurred with incorrect application Even acknowledging the intense controversy of these treatments should be in our humble opinion, be reason for reputable spas enough to forgo their use.

Robert  Tisserand, the foremost expert on Essential Oil Safety states:
In regard to safety, the application of undiluted essential oils to the skin is controversial. It is proscribed by most aromatherapy schools and practitioner associations. Trade organizations such as the UK’s Aromatherapy Trade Council require their members to include a safety statement on bottles of essential oils to the effect that the oil should not be used undiluted on the skin. On the other hand, the ‘raindrop technique’ involves the application of undiluted essential oils. (Tisserand, 2014).
There are reasons for avoiding this practice, especially in vulnerable groups such as infants, children, and elderly or for a multitude of health conditions and aromatherapy treatments should be based on the overall health of the client.   The risk of skin reactions increases with essential oil concentration (Tisserand 2014, pg 72) and the widespread use of raindrop technique could lead to an escalation of skin allergy to essential oils. Undiluted thyme and oregano oils, for example, pose a risk of skin irritation. Second, when essential oils are applied undiluted to the skin, percutaneous absorption may lead to relatively high constituent concentrations in the bloodstream, which increases the risk of systemic toxicity. Wintergreen oil, for example, is moderately-to-severely toxic, and many basil oils are potentially carcinogenic, with recommended dermal use levels of below 2%. Finally, the risk of drug interactions is greatly increased with the use of undiluted oils.

Tisserand goes on to state “encouraging untrained people to apply concentrated essential oils to themselves or others is unwise and unsafe. “  Battaglia in his book states that improper use of undiluted oils can cause toxicity, skin reactions, neurotoxicity, hepatotoxicity (in the liver) and is a hazard during pregnancy (Battaglia, 2003).

To be safe then, spas offering Raindrop or AromaTouch should offer them exclusively to perfectly healthy, non-stressed, young, flawless skin and apply the oils only to a one inch area on the bottom of the feet.   Amusing thought that they do that, isn’t it?!   Furthermore, educated Aromatherapists would have tested all oils used in these treatments (diluted of course) by a 24 hr. skin patch on the client prior to any treatment on a potentially reactive client (Peterson, 2014). Do the spas offering these treatments do this? Hardly!

Furthermore, proponents of these therapies claim ridiculous and false benefits  for this use of essential oils  Most of these practitioners of the therapies are devoid of any reputable essential oil education whatsoever outside of the  MLM Company  that is selling them the oils and blindly follow the hype generated by the company.  Any degree of success in their clients has actually caused more likely from other reasons than the AromaTouch or Raindrop Therapy.   Furthermore, the harm these therapies have caused is REAL and well documented.

While we believe and promote the use of Aromatherapy and Clinical Aromatherapy and have seen fabulous results in alleviating insomnia, enhancing profound relaxation, reducing anxiety and stress, reducing nausea and pain and promoting a wondrous sense of well-being, the application must be administered properly and with a proper client history.  Consequently, we stand AGAINST BOTH RAINDROP THERAPY AND AROMATOUCH.

StressBusters Wellness Spa has been cutting edge with our therapies for 24 years.   However, 100% of the time we do time-consuming research in order to insure the public that the service is not only SAFE but also that our therapists have gone through the best education in the respective therapy and are qualified to provide it.  We have NEVER “educated” our staff through classes provided by our retail vendors as do other spas.  We believe in best practices…. Attending reputable schools and offering SAFE therapies that do not cause harm. We even research the schools themselves as there are some unethical diploma pushers out there. Consequently, our offerings are SAFE as well as effective and that is a promise that you can trust.
Battaglia, Leo, 2003, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, International Center of Holistic Aromatherapy, Austrialia, pg. 148
Peterson, Dorene, American College of Healthcare Sciences, Portland, Oregon 2014
Tisserand, Robert, 2014, Essential Oil Safety, Churchill Livingstone, New York
Uter, W., Schmidt, E., 2010, Contact Allergy to Essential Oils: Current Patch Test Results (2000-2008) from the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology.  Contact Dermatitis 63-, 277-283

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Towards the end of last week I read a comment from a first time client. She said she "found you on
Basenotes.  People trust you there."

That touched me.   I haven't visited the Basenotes forum for a long long time.  It is a forum hosted by and for "perfumistas" and I am not one!   My interest is in healing, and my perfumery skills and knowledge are negligible.  But I decided to go visit. and found some wonderful treats.

I browsed and skipped and searched, read reviews of perfumes, of suppliers, and eventually searched on our name.  Yes.  People had lovely things to say about our oils.  Thank you, Basenotes community!

And then I came across a lovely article about Jasmine, written by author and perfumista, J R Lankford.  

I was fascinated by her extravagant imagery.  And THEN I saw our name...  Quoted with permission.
Hello, Jasmine lovers.
First, let me share a real text reply I sent to my S.O. last week. "Oh, what time is it? Haven't dressed and brushed my teeth yet. Grin." The time was 4:49 pm. What had I been doing? Reading Basenote forum messages, writing forum messages, sniffing samples, ordering samples, looking up info about perfume on the Internet. What I intended to do was turn on the computer and play music in the background while brushing my teeth. Unfortunately, I checked email first and saw a reply to a Basenotes thread. There went the hours. Luckily, I had no obligations that day.
I guess this confirms I'm a perfume addict. Jasmine is my intoxication of choice. Since to me it's the most beautiful thing I've ever smelled, I thought of playing the most beautiful music I've ever heard as I explore Jasmine perfumes. Nessun Dorma' (None Shall Sleep). It's one of those arias so affecting and so famous no one mentions the opera it's from. Just say Nessun Dorma and folks into opera know Turandot. Same thing with Un Bel Di. Opera fans know that's from Madama Butterfly. Nah, these two are so emotional, they'll take my mind off the subject. Better, I'm thinking, is Ravel's Bolero. Just like Jasmine, it's hypnotic. The winding melody helps me picture the Jasmine blossom, stirring from the long night and unfurling its white petals to the dawn, soon to find its sultry essence swirled with other noble scents to achieve perfumery's version of Bolero's grand crescendo -- the perfect perfume.
The name Jasmine is Persian, originating from the land of the Tales of a Thousand and one Nights. Appropriate that Aladdin's princess has that name - not in the centuries-old original, mind you, the princess there was unnamed - but in the Disney film. However, Yasmin is a popular Persian name. I picture majestic carved pillars hung with long, flowing fabrics that blow in a morning breeze. From between them comes a woman still wearing her thin night shift. A servant helps her pull the shift over her head and she walks across cool tiles and slips into her courtyard pool. No man is there. This is the harem. Submerging, she dips her hair into the water then floats on her back, enchanted by the palms that sway above, by the rising sun, and the smell of Jasmine all around. Will her true love find her and take her away on a magic carpet, or will the sultan visit and against her will make her his own? Each night she has rejected him, though he lay the world at her feet. But she knows he won't wait forever. Resigned to her fate, she aches with anticipation. One day she'll be rescued, or turn her face from love and be a queen, here, in the Jasmine garden.

Jasmine is a shrub in the olive family, Wikipedia says. It has 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The Nature's Gift sampler has the three apparently most used in perfumery: Grandiflora, Sambac, and Auriculatum (which I hadn't heard of).
Jasmine Grandiflora. (Catalonian Jasmine, Royal Jasmine, Spanish Jasmine). It's exactly like my Perfumery Notes Kit sample. Again I smell the indolic, narcotic scent. When I think of Jasmine, this is it. I could wear it by itself. Someone here described the smell as bananas ' yes, flamb' in a great rum until the alcohol burns off, then add vanilla. That's only an approximation, of course. How describe a primary floral scent, itself used to describe other smells. Per Wikipedia: 'By method of solvent extraction the Jasmine flowers are converted into Jasmine Concrete and Jasmine Oleoresin (sold as Jasmine Absolute). Both products have a huge demand in the fragrance industry.
Jasmine Sambac. (Arabian Jasmine) Native to South and Southeast Asia. A decidedly less
indolic version, with less projection, less presence. It also has a whiff of something resembling cinnamon, though not quite as sharp. I suppose if all the Grandiflora in the world vanished, I could accept this, but not happily. Okay, re-sniffing a day later. Perhaps I'm wrong. This is certainly a beautiful, even majestic, scent and had I not smelled grandiflora first, I'd say it's unsurpassed. [Big coffee bean sniff] Back to grandiflora, it's instantly intoxicating, smoother, milkier, sophisticated. [Coffee beans]. Back to Sambac, something cinnamon-like right away rides above the Jasmine which soon joins in, yes, majesty. Okay, I like it.
Jasmine Auriculatum: (Indian Jasmine, Needle-flower Jasmine) Frankly,
I'm insulted that this astringent wannabe dares pretend to equal its grand cousins. This is not my kind of Jasmine. When the sultan comes, he'll make her his consort, not his queen. It's akin to Sambac with a dab of civet thrown in. Supposedly good (like all Jasmines) for soothing trauma and tension, it's causing me both by not being glorious. Wikipedia doesn't even give it a whole paragraph. However, I do suppose it could become agreeable in combination with other perfume ingredients, perhaps decreasing the need for musks ' assuming you throw in an actual banana to make up for the lack of indoles, though!
In my next installment, I'll return to sniffing Jasmine perfumes, grouping them by classification and/or main ingredients. Like Yasmin, I am anxious. Will they be consummations of love, alliances of grandeur, or both? At least they won't be alone in that pool. "
I want to thank my new friend for the exciting review... I never think to blend music and aroma, to find the fit so she has opened all sorts of avenues for contemplation.  (And I have to remind all of us that another well known perfumista thought highly of our Auriculatum!) You may read other reviews, and experience our Jasmines for yourself here.