Wellness Wednesday – Smoke & Mirrors

It’s Wellness Wednesday and this post is a primer on cosmetic aromatherapy i.e. perfume.

Perfume shops are a fixture in the Middle East and this is certainly evident in Jordan. In most shopping districts, one can find a perfume shop selling local scents as well as knock off versions of designer brands.

These perfumes differ from commercial brands in the West. They are a mixture of a carrier or base oil mixed with a small percentage of a concentrated plant oil. The commercial perfumes, whose strong scent besieges you when you walk into a department store, use a special denatured ethyl alcohol as a base. They contain a varying percentage of essential oils and synthetic fragrances. This chemical concoction is more drying to the skin than an oil based perfume.

An essential oil is the pure essence of a flower, stem or root of a plant  usually obtained through a steam distillation process. Some essential oils, such as the citrus group, are obtained by cold pressing the peels where the essence of the fruit is contained.

Perfume oils will last a long time-if you get them on your clothes you will know just how long the scent can last! The oil base helps maintain the aroma. On skin, the scent of the perfume oil mixes with the natural odour and oils of one’s body creating a ‘personalized’ perfume that can endure the hot temperatures and excessive sweating in this region.

The word perfume was derived from a Latin phrase meaning through smoke. The origins of this word relate to the use of incense*  in ancient cultures to honour the Gods.

Today perfume has personal application and is more commonly found on the vanity than in a place of worship. Floral perfumes such as aphrodisiac jasmine and stress-reducing rose are popular scents available in the Middle East.

*aromatic smoke released when burning plant material

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