aromatic profile: helichrysum

helichrysum essential oil

Common name: Helichrysum

Genus name: Helichrysum italicum

Supplier: unknown

Note: top-mid

Main chemical components: neryle acetate (around 27 percent). The essential oil also contains terpenes (alpha pinene, 2 percent; limonene, 5 percent; italicene, 3 percent), sequiterpenes (beta caryophyllene, 1 percent; alpha curcumene, 3 percent; gamma curcumene, 10 percent), alcohols (linalool, 2 percent; nerol, 2.5 percent), ketones (italidones, 9 percent), and oxides (caryophyllene oxide, 2 percent).

Interesting bits: Blooming from May to August, this essential oil is produced by steam distillation or by solvent extraction of the flowers. It’s a discreet plant growing in dry, hot areas of the Mediterranean and can differ in chemistry, like most other EOs, due to soil and climate. It dislikes humidity, preferring shelter from cold winds and frost. What I learned while researching this EO is that there are distinct differences between the Helichrysum absolute and the EO (any for that matter): absolutes find expression more in the heart and base note whereas the EO typically captures the top notes. So combining the two would create a broader spectrum and greater longevity of the flower.

Their nose: The fragrance is warm, slightly honey like, rich and buttery, with green notes of wood, spices, herb. It is a fascinating oil because it is made up of several layers of notes that appear to unfold during the dry down. (

(Corsica) is a pale yellow liquid displaying a rich,sweet, honeyed, herbaceous-aromatic bouquet with fruity, tea-like undertone of good tenacity. (Bosnia) a rich spicy-aromatic bouquet but the undertone is green, hay-like in character. (

“Perhaps the herb everlasting (Helichrysum italicum), the fragrant immortelle of our autumn field, has the most suggestive odor to me of all those that set me dreaming. I can hardly describe the strange thoughts and emotions that come to me as I inhale the aroma of its pale, dry, rustling flowers. A something it has of sepulchral spicery, as it had been brought from the core of some great pyramid, where it was laid on the breast of some mummified Pharoh. Something, too, of immortality in the sad, faint sweetness lingering so long in its lifeless petals. Yet this does not tell why it fills my eyes with tears and carries me in blissful thought to the banks of asphodel that border the River of Life. ” –from Scent Memories by Francis Jacox

My nose: This note is my first love, I am spell-bound by its nuances and will forever be captive of its story! I find it utterly elegant as a single note with a dry woody aspect, dry like gin, dry. It tends to disappear after the first initial smelling.

1 hour after and it’s already beginning to fade, tip-toeing its way to an exit.  So soft.  Truly a top note, and yet, I can’t simply dismiss it as just that…there’s something deeper, more grounded about it.  No doubt this characteristic is something that growing on cliffs and clinging to mountainsides lends the oil.

3 hours into the dry-down and I can still smell tiny whispers of it on the scent strip but more woodier.

After 1 day wow, it’s still clinging, holding on for dear life.  Very dry, papery almost, still present, almost powdery.



aromatic profile: geranium, bourbon

geranium bourbon essential oil

Common name: Rose Geranium

Genus name: Pelargonium graveolens, P. roseum (Geraniaceae)

Supplier: John Steele via Perfumer’s Apprentice

Note: mid-base

Main chemical compounds: Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellyl formate, Isomenthone.  The Bourbon type is characterised by high levels of 6,9-guaiadiene.

Some interesting bits: Geranium, bourbon is an evergreen perennial and most come from countries in N. Africa: Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. It is a drought and heat tolerant plant and is not frost-hardy. Oddly enough, Geranium Bourbon has nothing to do with the Geranium genus species! The majority of the EO comes from the leaves and the stalks not the flower and it is produced by steam distillation. The main difference between the Madagascar, Chinese and Egyptian oil is their high Sequiterpene levels. Geranium Bourbon is one of the most used EOs in perfumery.  And to the untrained nose it is often mistaken for Rose essential oil. What I found most unusual in my research is that Geranium can smell like so many different things: rose, citrus, mint, coconut, nutmeg as well as various fruit.

Their nose: The Bourbon oil is the most valuable. It has a very powerful, green, leafy-rosy odour with a pronounced fruity-minty undertone and a rich, long-lasting, sweet-rosy dryout. (…..

…displaying a suave, complex,  fresh, sweet, green herbaceous  bouquet with a delicate and balanced, fruity, minty, roseaceous undertone. The herbaceous rosy note lasts deep into the dryout. In my estimation the fruity note intermingled with the above mentioned olfactory qualities is what distinguishes it from Rose Geranium from South Africa (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: my first impression was that it smells like Lychee fruit!  Fresh, floral, rain, sharp yet inviting, but definitely fruity…and pink!

1 hour later and it’s much, much drier.  I can smell the floral aspect at this point and it’s quite sweet but light and soft, it seems to enter right into my heart area giving me a sense of joy and peace. I can smell similarities with lavender that I didn’t smell the first time, which is the Linalool that they have in common.

3 hours into the drydown and it still has a powerful presence but I can now smell the citrus note more clearly.  I say it’s a mid to base note, but still fresh and light.

1 day after and it’s nice. dry. soapy. floral and still very present.


aromatic profile: sandalwood absolute

sandalwood absolute

Common name: Sandalwood

Genus name: Santalum Austro Caledonicum (New Caledonia)

Main chemical components are: α-Santalol(38.2%),β-santalol(18.2%),trans-α-bergamotol(9.9%),lanceol(9.1%), and epi-p-santalol(3.8%). But I learned something interesting from White Lotus Aromatics about New Caledonia Sandalwood, that “GC-olfactometry revealed, that iso-β-bisabolol [2], a new odor active sandalwood trace constituent, having a strong floral, muguet-like, very pleasant smell (16-18) was also present in the oils from New Caledonia.”

Some interesting bits: New Caledonian sandalwood oil is long-lasting, has little or no particular top note and smells soft, sweet-woody, nutty, animalic-balsamic, but is weaker and less radiant than its East Indian counterpart, according to WLA.  Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, says “in some parts of India sandalwood flavors milkshakes and sweetmeats.” Sandalwood, sadly, is among the threatened species because of overharvesting in many countries.  The chewing tobacco market in India is a huge consumer of the essential oil.

Their nose: “a rich, soft, sweet, creamy, balsamic, precious woods odor which is uniform in olfactory properties throughout the long life of its dry out. The heart note is softer and creamier in aromatic texture than the Sandalwood from India and Sri Lanka.” ,WLA. “Sandalwood has a rich, balsamic, sweet fragrance with delicate wood notes. The oil has a woody, exotic smell, subtle and lingering and the color is pale yellow to pale gold.”, Fragrantica.

My nose’s immediate impression is very light, woody and soft, intimate and silent.

After 1 hour I find that with this absolute I have to be in a calm space in order to fully appreciate it, I can’t be stressed or have a gazillion things going on, can’t be in a rush,…after a while I smell more of the wood but in a coy, cajoling sort of way.

After 3 hours it reminds me of paper and I LOVE paper! Dry.

1 day later and now this one just continues to surprise me, holy smokes! It’s so smooth and soft, more of a woody landscape yes, and wonderful base note!


aromatic profile: ylang ylang complete

ylang ylang complete essential oil

a.k.a. Cananga Odorata.  The one I have is a complete and is 100% organic, and I got it from John Steele via Perfumer’s Apprentice in USA and of course I’ve already diluted it to 10%.

First impression (between 10:20 – 11:07): drawing from my list of the language of odours – that I posted here which you can download – to my nose it’s soft, warm, generous and definitely sweet.  But there’s also something very sophisticated, elegant and languid about this note, like being on holidays somewhere warm, thick and heavy.

1 hour: it’s grown much softer, more pliable and elastic not as sweet and a bit like…paper?

3 hours: the smell is almost undetectable to my still untrained nose, but what I do detect smells almost powdery, very gentle, softer still, I can almost smell citrus in there??? It is literally magical after 3 hours!

1 Day: it’s still present on the smelling strip but very, very faint, it smells now like a light breeze with hints of lemon in the air

2 Days: the note is wonderfully powdery and sweet, no longer sticking in the throat but floating

White Lotus Aromatics describes it this way: “The absolute is a light green or light golden liquid with a fresh, sweet, delicate balsamic-floral bouquet with an elegant vanilla-floral-balsamic undertone which remains uniform deep into the dryout.”

What are your impressions of ylang ylang?