What is… Amber Perfume?
The term "amber" is used to describe many different perfumes and fragrances, but do you know what amber actually smells like?
Don't worry, up until a few months ago, I had no idea either!
I've always enjoyed amber fragrances despite the fact that I could never put my finger on what I was smelling. I mean, much of the imagery associated with amber perfume depicts stones… but stones (fossilized tree resin, actually) don't really smell… so I guess I just assumed that "amber" perfume was supposed to smell like "amber" the color? Warm, rich, earthy? Hmm…
Personally, I've always associated amber fragrances with Paris. I had the pleasure of staying at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée for a few blissful days back in 2005, and the (somewhat intense) scent of their amber candles has stayed with me all these years. When I decided to begin crafting my own perfumes, I realized that it was finally time to figure out what the heck amber actually was so I could make my own! (And you know, stop having to sniff every single amber perfume and candle in every single store I go into to see if it is in fact the one!)
Here's where it gets a little weird: as it turns out, traditionally, "amber" is actually kind of gross.
Back in the day, Ambergris (a solid, waxy bile duct secretion that's either vomited up or passed through the intestine of a sperm whale) was prized by perfumers for it's sweet, earthy scent, and excellent fixative qualities.
Um… disgusting, right?! Also, not vegan… ha!
Thankfully, due to the fact that ambergris is extremely rare, (and also illegal to trade here in the US thanks to the endangered species act) modern day natural perfumers have turned to plant based oils and resins to achieve that sweet, earthy scent.
There's no one right way to make amber fragrances. In fact, many perfumers have their own secret, patented formulas. After some research and experimentation, I found a recipe that never fails to take me back to Paris… and since I'm not really into beauty secrets, here it is:
It's a lot of: benzoin resin essential oil
A little bit of: labdanum absolute
And a dash of: vanilla oil CO2
This is the base of my French Girl fragrance, (get it?!) limited-edition Amber Spice, and hopefully many more scents to come from Twinkle Apothecary! I absolutely love the way it smells, and I hope you do to!
*the more you know*