I have a bit of a soft spot for geraniums. My grandfather used to grow them in his front garden and introduced me to their ability to display a range of strong smells. The lemon geranium was my favourite, closely followed by the rose geranium. I was also impressed to come across a scheme that encouraged African farmers to grow geraniums instead of tobacco. The geraniums were used to produce scent ingredients rather than cigarettes which is healthier for the end user. It is also better for the long term health of the soil – tobacco being a crop that requires a lot of chemical and mechanical input. So I was intrigued to see a website advocating geranium oil as an antiseptic and anti-fungal that should be kept handy for cuts and bruises. Continue reading
Some formulations look a lot more complicated than they really are. Take this one from cult emollient Olverum bath oil.
Isopropyl Myristate, Pinus (Pine Oil), Arachis hypogea (Groundnut oil), Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin Oil), Limonene, Linalool, Citrus limonum (Lemon oil), Eukalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus oil), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary oil), Citral, Litsea cubeba (Exotic Verbena), Fragrance, Lavendula augustifolia (Lavender oil), Juniperus communis (Juniper oil), Geraniol, Coumarin. Continue reading
Lavender farmers are worried that under new legislation products containing lavender oil will have to bear a black and red warning symbol. They will also have to bear the warning ‘fatal if swallowed’. You can see why this might put people off. Continue reading
Based on a totally unscientific sample of people whose opinion of Jasmine I happen to know, it is a very polarising smell and is one that appeals to men more than women. That many people don’t particularly like the smell is a bit unfortunate given the trouble that has to be gone to to obtain it.
Neroli is an essential oil made from the petals of the bitter orange. The amount of oil in a petal isn’t very high so it takes a lot of them to make much oil. So it isn’t surprising to learn that the use of neroli oil was originated by an aristocrat. The production and use of neroli goes back to the Duchess of Nerola in seventeenth century Italy, whose exquisite taste and deep pockets led to her name being given to the oil. Even today its stupendous price tag limits its use to very low levels or very expensive products. Continue reading
Sometime ago I had a question about whether French skincare was any good from a half Egyptian woman living in Canada called Yasmine. She described herself as a “freelance makeup artist, beauty junkie and organic modernist bohemian.” She sounded like an interesting person so when I replied saying that yes French skincare is generally very good I asked her a question about what Egyptian skincare was like. Her reply was so full I resolved to ask her for a bit more detail and ask if I could run it as a blog post. Unfortunately I got sidetracked and have only just got round to doing it. When I tried to e-mail her it bounced back. But I think what she sent was enough as it stood, so here it is.
If you are out there Yasmine thanks for your reply and I hope you don’t mind me using it without permission. Please get back in touch if you want to add anything. Continue reading
Head lice are a recurrent problem all over the world. The lice are no respecters of income levels, general cleanliness and the degree of diligence of the child’s mother. The only thing they take notice of is effective anti-lice treatments. Even here, the laws of natural selection mean that what is effective one year might well be useless in the face of a new strain the following year. Continue reading
The Roman Emperor Elagabalus once threw a party for some guests, against whom he had a grudge. After they had eaten at a prearranged signal his servants poured vast quantities of rose petals onto them. They suffocated to death. Continue reading
This is what a patch test looks like.
Should you use natural products if you have sensitive skin?
There is an argument that you shouldn’t. The problem is that an allergic reaction is caused by your immune system reacting to something that it encounters and identifies as a threat. Natural products contain a wider diversity of ingredients so you have a bigger chance of one of them being something that will give you a problem. Continue reading
Lemongrass is pretty well known to lovers of oriental cuisine (which seems to be nearly everybody in the UK). But just as you can get varieties of mint that smell of lemons – there are also kinds of lemongrass that don’t have the distinctive aroma of lemongrass. Continue reading