THE PERFUME HABITS of a perfumer - do perfumers wear fragrance daily?
The short answer is no. We can't wear fragrance on most days, and avoid any heavily fragranced skin and hair care products. That's because most days we're working on fragrance development or experimenting with raw materials. To keep one's personal scent space neutral is essential when it comes to correctly perceiving formulas. Even fabric conditioners are banned from my house.
I recently visited a friend for a few days in another city and did some washing at her place. The detergent she uses is so strong that it was all I could smell when I wore my clean clothes after that. This got me to thinking that people often over spray perfume too, which would over bear the detergent smell anyway. Some people like the smell of clean clothes and perhaps even that's enough for them - along with a spray of underarm deodorant.
Metaphysically speaking, in the world of natural perfumery, fragrance is less of a trench coat and more a silk scarf. It's light on the skin and compliments a mood, even enhances it as it happens to float up off the skin with a casual swing of the scarf over one shoulder. Natural fragrance is for your personal space and so in many ways it's 'becoming' to wear, as it settles in with your skin and your sense of self. A trench coat on the other hand, while presenting a beautiful silhouette, is more of an external statement - outside of yourself and very structured, coating your body like a shell.
Occasions I'm likely to wear perfume, are less occasion based because perfume for me is about mood. There is usually one day during the week when I won't be working in my lab at all and I'll put on a solid perfume, every now and then a parfum or edt (when I'm feeling positively intense). On other days I try give myself a complete break from scent because it's good for perfumers to step away from their work; both for a sensory break and to regain a 'fresh' palette. Such days also present great opportunities for me to become more engaged and curious about the smells I come into contact with in the world around me.
If I'm going out for dinner I'll wear one of the natural perfumes I bought in France early last year - it feels very indulgent, especially because they aren't fragrances I created so there is un petit guilt in wearing a perfume that wasn't made by me. There is one french perfume I wear with tuberose in it, which is not entirely natural and while I adore it, I do find there are times when it is a bit much for me, especially the more accustomed I become to wearing naturals. And then there are dinners where I'll wear M & M - it really is all about my mood.
Sometimes at the end of the day on my way to yoga I'll dab on a solid perfume - I usually feel like doing this when I'm craving a deeper multi-sensory experience or some self soothing.
On weekends, during the day I'll experiment with the solids, mixing two different ones together for a new experience. I often forget to put perfume on when I'm not in the lab though as it's become more of a (quite sad) habit not to (before being on the production side, I used to feel naked leaving the house without perfume). As soon as I remember after leaving the house, I feel disappointed at having lost the opportunity to experience being the wearer again, but If I'm lucky and I'm using one of my well used handbags, there is likely to be a little M & M tin hidden amongst my Mawu, hair clips and lip balm.
While it is a little sad that I can't use as many fragranced products or wear perfume as much as I used to, I'm also truly grateful to be working with the most precious plant materials on a daily basis and experiencing them in ways that I'd never dreamed of.