An aromatherapy oil is certainly a natural perfume with its rules based on reason combining for example jasmine with ylang for the benzyl benzoate in both. Yet we do not work in perfumery. The therapeutic effect lies not in the headline ingredients but in all the constituents and effects of the whole fresh oil, their synergies with one another and with the other oils and in the client therapist relationship.
Much more mysterious than perfumery with its strict ratios and formulas. Aromatherapy oils are blended not by robots but people as unique as the people using the oil and leaving the imprint of their own character on the oils and their clients. Of course we associate the visual and auditory experience of the aromatherapy oil and therapist in our memory.
Perhaps we should call where we work an aromatherapy. Another use for the term!
Perfumery is rather different. If we were to call where we work a perfumery then the emphasis would be on creating a desirable gift and our tools would be largely synthetic. We would sell not only our creations but greeting cards, jewellery and decorative glass. Very nice too! To make a natural perfume of essential oils is simple. To make a good one hard and to make a perfume as we understand the term today - a confidence giving gift to be enjoyed for life - virtually impossible. No reason we shouldnt try.
Perhaps a good starting point is to reflect on the positive values and principles commonly accepted by everyone whether by virtue of reason or divinity rather than emotions. The emotions we feel are rarely stirred by essential oils. This is a useful classification of the emotions invoked by EOs like Jasmine, Mandarin, Pepper and Vanilla used by researchers.
‘‘Happiness – Well-being – Pleasantly surprised” for the ‘‘Pleasant
_ ‘‘Romantic – Desire – In love” for the ‘‘Sensuality” dimension.
_ ‘‘Relaxed – Serene – Reassured” for the ‘‘Relaxation” dimension.
_ ‘‘Nostalgic – Amusement – Mouthwatering” for the ‘‘Sensory
_ ‘‘Energetic – Invigorated – Clean” for the ‘‘Refreshment”
The neuroscience is somewhat differant the perfumer aims for a dopamine release, for action, something of an addiction. The aromatherapist aims for CNS stimulation or depression. For freedom from addiction and the assertion of the context particularly in the treatment of depression or mental disorder. This is a useful article. Phytother Res. 2012 Jun;26(6):884-91. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3665. Epub 2011 Nov 15.
Evaluation of the effects of plant-derived essential oils on central nervous system function using discrete shuttle-type conditioned avoidance response in mice. Essential oils of peppermint and chamomile exhibited CNS stimulant-like effects......EOs of orange, grapefruit, and cypress exhibited CNS depressant-like effects. Essential oils of eucalyptus and rose ..... they may exhibit some CNS acting effects. So this guides the perfume maker towards oils like Jasmine, Mandarin, Pepper and Vanilla and oils indicated for dopamine release and decrease of social anxiety also like Lemon and I am guessing Bergamot and Ylang.
You can reach for the gardenia and neroli. Perfume is interesting in that the aroma need not necessarily be particularly pleasant to move to action. The amygdala is wired for unpleasant aromas and essential oils dont upset it and move it without a little help. Aromatherapists observe that there are some funky constituents in some of the essential oils.
Synthetic and exotic perfumery ingredients take us into 'negative' values and mood states which are nonetheless motivational to action, while the essential oils tend to take us in 'positive' if less motivational mood states. Hence the need for perfumers to have both at their disposal. Negative and Positive are of course two sides of the same coin and you cant have one without the other unless you really seek a monk or nuns contemplation of the mind. Still there are some essential oils which can give a smokier (per fume as in through the smoke in the latin) and more alarming base to a natural perfume. Vetiver and Cistus for example as well as smokier sweeter scents like that from burnt frankincense resin. So its still possible to create a perfume. However the rub is that it will be for one batch only. The robot machines which faithfully replicate the formula of commercial perfumes are no use as each batch of essential oil varies in composition. The interesting thing about natural perfumes is that they let us add dimensions to the sensation for example the addition of 'warming' or digestive oils like ginger to a standard blend of basil, bergamot and ylang. This is particularly helpful for male fragrances.