Natural perfume is created using only plant and animal essences as well as from earthly object such as shells, stones, dirt, for example.
Plant materials are the most important natural perfume ingredient. This may be in the form of essential oils, absolutes, concretes, waxes etc. Think Lavender essential oil or Jasmine absolute.
Items from nature can include ambergris, which comes from whales and can be very old. Beeswax, which is harvested from bee hives or Africa stone, which is petrified waste that is hundreds if not thousands of years old from the Dassie or, Cape Hyrax.
You will also see, for example, oil infused with crushed seashells, or absolute made from seaweed, tinctured goat hair, or whatever the imagination comes up with that can be used in natural perfumery. Anything from nature can be used. I once tinctured stones and pebbles gathered from a glacier, and made natural soap with glacial silt from Alaska.
The base of natural perfume is generally alcohol of high percentage (think Everclear or grape alcohol – above 190 proof) or oils such as jojoba or fractionated coconut oil (FCO). Also, water based perfumes which have high water content with natural preservatives and oils.
For solid perfumes, generally a plant wax or beeswax is used in the base. You may also see coconut oil, mango butter or other semi solid oils used along with oil that has a long shelf life such as FCO.
Some people are not comfortable using beeswax at all but others will only use beeswax harvested in the Spring, while others do not worry about it. To learn more about ethical beekeeping, check out the Natural BK Trust here.
Without pollinators, we do not sustain food on this planet, so they are very important! Kudo’s to all the beekeepers out there!
There are other ingredients in natural perfumery such as castoreum, ambergris or civet. Only ethically harvested are used, if at all, at Wild Perfume.