Have other questions not answered here? Contact us and we will be happy to help.

How does natural perfume differ?

Natural perfumes have a few key features that attract those who love and use perfume regularly as well as those who may not consider themselves avid perfume wearers.  Natural perfumes also attract those who would like to wear perfume but have abandoned it due issues with synthetic perfumes such as harshness, irritation, allergies, health concerns, work-related complaints or other frustration.

Natural perfumes have a smoother, softer, rounder, non-artificial fragrance.  They have a complexity and depth of beauty that is a different class than synthetics.

While all beautiful fragrance is a mood lifter, one must try our naturals to appreciate the effective difference in the beauty and feel.


These terms refer to how far away a perfume can be smelled by others and how much of a “trail” of scent you leave behind.  For example, a perfume that can be smelled by the whole room, even after you’ve left is quite dominant in sillage.  For a perfume that billows well away from your personal space or well into the room, you will need to buy the right synthetic perfume.

Our perfumes are more discreet than most synthetic perfumes –and in many circumstances, might be called polite.  The nature of our perfumes is to give others a hint or gentle waft of the fragrance, while you and those welcome in your personal space will have the private experience of the feeling and fragrance in an intimate way.

The scent also goes with you; it does not linger long after you’ve left. You will have more control over the perfume and your presence in a room or elevator.  Overall, the scent does not venture on the air outside your personal space or give the effect of it marking territory hours past your departure.  Nor will it spar in competition with other perfumes in the area.

We believe that you will enjoy your perfume more when you know you are not interfering with the well-being of people around you.  To that point, you may find that others will find your fragrance as appealing as you do.


These terms refer to how long and strong a perfume lasts or can be smelled.

Our natural perfumes will, on average, have less longevity than most synthetic perfumes on the mass market.  We do not use the synthetic extenders they do, which are largely responsible for extreme longevity.  Unfortunately, they are implicated in health and environmental problems as well.

How long our perfumes last depend on the individual perfume formula and other factors such as body temperature, dry or moist skin, ambient heat, and humidity.  The longevity on the skin will vary from a few hours to eight hours or more.  If applied to the hair, scent jewelry or animal fiber clothing imparts much greater longevity. 

With a small bottle in your purse, desk, or pocket it is easy to reapply for an uplifting re-set during your day.  You may find this feature desirable as it offers you flexibility and control.

Noteworthy to detecting any perfume over many hours is a phenomenon called “Olfactory Fatigue”.   This is a scientific term for the natural loss of conscious scent detection that occurs after about 20 minutes of smelling a given odor.  The brain will no longer register awareness of it, giving the illusion that the scent is gone.  Stepping outside in fresh air or sniffing a “palette clearing” substance such as coffee grounds will reawaken perception of the original odor.


All-natural perfumes do not contain phthalates, glycols, parabens, synthetic fragrance, molecules not found in nature, and many other unwelcome chemicals.

Some natural perfumes are made from whole aromatics only or a blend of whole and natural isolates.  Other natural perfumes contain mostly-or-all isolates as do synthetic perfumes.  The difference is that natural isolates are derived from plants and not from petrochemicals.  Though it may be obvious, it bears saying that the latter does not remain a petroleum chemical; it is transformed to an aromatic chemical.   


Both synthetic and natural perfume creations require hundreds of molecules to react with each other.  The aging process proves whether or not all the individual molecules play well together and if they are in the right proportions to achieve the desired effect.  Therein is the art of creation.

It is often mentioned that synthetic perfumes are made of huge numbers of separate synthetic isolates such a “1000 or more”, though though an accurate tally must come from the conventional perfumer.

The number of natural ingredients used in our perfumes is rarely over 20, usually less.  As simple as that would seem, it is not.  Each whole natural ingredient has tens to hundreds of individual constituents — in nature’s proportions.

The independent artisan perfumer, all-natural or not, has greater control over the creative process because they are a committee of one.   Some select for beauty above price, some do not, and that is not necessarily reflected in the pricing.  It will take a lot of sampling for the customer to discern the difference and know what to expect of the artisan brand.   However, educating oneself is fun and recommended!  Trust your nose to teach you.


Synthetic perfumes are especially suited to mass markets due to their lower manufacturing expense, consistent availability of laboratory-made ingredients and their ability to remain virtually the same from large batch to large batch.  Millions of bottles of the same fragrance are not a problem to reproduce.

Their cost to produce is lower, commonly limited by budgets that are designed for large profits, paying shareholders, large advertising and commission expenses, and so on.  Even so, many beautiful and well-loved perfumes have been created.

All-natural perfumes are created by hand in smaller batches.  They are made from crops that can subtly change from year to year, based on the conditions that the plant experiences, which carry over to the perfume.  The difference is usually small but occasionally distinct, motivating the natural perfumer to seek a different supply, possibly from a different location or year.  This is similar to wine production, where some years are preferred to others.  Sometimes an ingredient becomes entirely unavailable or in short supply due to weather, disasters, politics, and other variables. 

The cost to produce natural perfume is much greater than a synthetic, often limiting supply and reflected in the price, quite comparable to wines.  Exquisite natural perfume is by numbers alone, let alone by quality, an uncommon luxury.

How should I evaluate a perfume prior to purchasing a bottle?


After applying the perfume, allow about 15 seconds to pass, or until the alcohol evaporates, before you first inhale the fragrance.

Sample the perfumes at your leisure. Consciously smell the perfume often.  Enjoy the journey as it proceeds through time to the dry-down, (when the last of the base notes eventually fade).

Your first experience and initial perception of the perfume will be the top notes.  They dissipate the quickest, soon revealing the “heart notes” or “middle notes”, which last a moderate amount of time.  Finally, the base notes will fully break through and last the longest amount of time.  The total time that this process takes and the stages it goes through can vary from perfume to perfume.

The segues or bridges between top, middle and base notes should be a smooth transition.  The character of the perfume will keep shifting over time.  It is quite interesting and enjoyable to follow the nature of a perfume from top to bottom.  With the opening the lightest weight “top note” essences leap up to greet you and then run away, often within 5-10 minutes.  The time that the middle-weight essences (“middle notes” or “heart notes”) dominate is usually a couple hours, give or take, but at times will last longer.  The heavier weight essences, called “base notes” are those that stay for the longest time, or, take the longest to evaporate.

This is why sampling perfumes is wise because the top notes are not the main experience of the perfume.  You need to love the whole perfume, and especially its base notes as they linger the longest.   (Again these are generalities; some perfumes smell much the same from top to bottom.)

Experience how you feel when wearing the fragrance.  Notice what it does for you!  The smell and the way the perfumes make you feel are both important.

Do it again on another day at least.  Environmental and personal conditions change, which will create little differences.  We want you to be happy with your purchase.


Our Scent Dots are a unique way to experience the fragrance itself and to know if you like it.  Scent Dots are also a good indicator of how a perfume will perform on your hair, clothing, or scent jewelry. The scent will be retained for at least 6-8 weeks on the Scent Dot and provide a “slow-motion” (long) period of time to intimately know the perfume.   The longevity is terrific, sometimes exceeding 6 months.

Simply open the packet and let it breathe (keeping the packet open to air) for about 15-20 seconds to allow the alcohol to evaporate. 

Smell it 2 times in the first hour.  Then smell it every 1-3 hours for the first day.  Thereafter you can smell it a few times per day, starting in the morning when your nose should be the freshest.  The scent will unfold, transform, and eventually fade, but v-e-r-y slowly.


If you plan to wear the perfume on your skin, we strongly advise that you purchase a Flight to sample how a perfume develops on your skin.   Every perfume interacts differently with each person’s individual body chemistry, the condition of the skin, ambient conditions, and activity.  Our fragrances will last anywhere from a few hours to 8 hours or more on the skin, depending on which perfume, your body, and the other variables.

Apply the perfume to a moist area of skin such as the inner forearm.  Wait for the alcohol to evaporate; about 15-20 seconds or until the area feels and looks dry.  Then smell the fragrance immediately and every 10-15 minutes for the first hour.  Then smell the perfume at 20-30 minute intervals for another 2 hours.  Finally, smell the fragrance at least once per hour for as long as you can smell the perfume.

How should I apply the perfume when wearing It?

Because it is a natural perfume, it contains the pigments of the plants from which it is made, some of which stain. Therefore, it is recommended that you apply your perfume and let it dry prior to dressing (which only takes moments) – especially if you’re wearing white.

For daily enjoyment wear perfume anywhere on the body that is exposed to air and where the skin is naturally moist.  While it is enjoyable to wear perfume on your inner wrists, they are high-use areas of your body and perfume may wear off more rapidly due to simple friction and contact-transfer.

Other options are wearing your perfume on your hair, clothes or in scent jewelry.


On the skin use lotion, balm, cream, or body oil prior to spraying on perfume.   We find that taking a moment to reapply your perfume later in the day is useful and enjoyable.  Our travel size roll-on perfumes easily tuck into a purse, desk, or pocket for a refreshing and discreet interlude during reapplication.

Misting your hair works well.  Mist your hair from about 16-18 inches away to diffuse the spray, avoiding the eyes.  This is usually no problem even on color treated hair, but the latter could possibly be a problem so experiment first.  Alcohol may be drying to hair so change up locations and well-diffuse the perfume.  If you have longer hair, the scent will be especially noticeable as your tresses move.  It feels and smells wonderful. 

Spray your darker colored clothes that won’t be affected by the pigments in the perfume.  Natural animal fibers such as wool, alpaca and cashmere hold scent especially well. 

Try scent jewelry.  Spray your perfume on a small bit of natural animal fiber and tuck it into the jewelry housing.  Use a clipping from a sweater that you plan to discard, or purchase wool felt dots.  This is an effective work-around for those with sensitive skin.

How can I best store and preserve my perfume?


Oxygen breaks down or oxidizes the molecules in your perfume over time.

Heat speeds up the normal chemical changes that occur over time and will decrease the original beauty of perfume more rapidly.  

Unstable temperatures in the environment will have a negative effect on the chemistry.

UV Light degrades perfume at a faster rate than normal.  Intense light also heats the perfume and is to be avoided.  Average low-level indoor light will work against your perfume more slowly.  Of course, low or no light is best but practically speaking, few of us will store a perfume in a location that isn’t easily accessed.  Just consider the light intensity multiplied by time.   


Store perfume in stable room temperature or cooler.  Do not store the perfume in an environment that fluctuates in temperature such as a bathroom or kitchen.

Many ingredients in natural perfume have an amazingly long shelf life.  The base notes often improve with age.  However, the top notes (the lightest notes that greet you first) usually dissipate in a year or so.  Some middle notes can spoil but this usually takes many years.  This does not mean that you won’t still enjoy your perfume for several years, but it will gradually change in character.  

We recommend that you buy the amount you will use within a year or so, maybe two, for optimal performance.  You may also decant your perfume into smaller bottles, topped off to decrease the air in the head of the bottle.  Store the decants in the refrigerator or other cool, dark area to better maintain the original character. 

Do not store (or use) your perfume near a source of flame or extreme heat. Alcohol and some of the ingredients in natural perfumes are flammable and the heat accelerates aging.

Store out of reach of small children.  They have been known to spray the perfume in other children’s eyes or their own, drink it,  take it near high heat or flame, break the glass and cut themselves and more.

What about health concerns?


There is a good chance that you will not have the reactions and sensitivity problems associated with synthetic products, especially if you choose 100% whole-volatile-oil perfumes.  However, that cannot be assumed.

If you have concern about allergies, irritation, or sensitivities:

Perform a 24-hr. patch test prior to widespread use:  apply a small amount of perfume on the inside of your arm.  Watch it over 24 hours.  If redness or other irritation occurs, wash the area with plenty of soap and water and discontinue the use of that perfume or other product.

If you have a tendency to develop respiratory distress be prepared to get fresh air if needed.

If you use an inhaler for pre-existing respiratory issues, have it handy to be used if needed, as your physician directed.   

Some of the materials we use can make your skin more sensitive to the sun (Sun Sensitivity), especially those containing particular citrus oils.  If you anticipate having significant sun or sunlamp exposure, it is best to not wear our perfume on exposed skin.  Instead, apply the perfume to your hair or clothes.  

Naturopathic physicians recommend not eating a single food every day for longer than 2-3 weeks without a few days or week off.  They state that chronic exposure is implicated in developing food allergies.  The same can be said of many things we are exposed to.  Apologue recommends variety in fragrance; change it up.  Our perfumes are intended to be used based on mood and need, and doing so is wise for your health as well.


Especially in the first trimester or when trying to become pregnant, consult a qualified physician before use of any perfume or other chemical.

This includes products for yard care, cleaning, professional use, personal care, and especially drugs of any kind. 

While most natural ingredients in natural perfume have classically, (that means folklore and some science), been acceptable during pregnancy, a few are not.  The dose, (amount over time) of that aromatic, constituent, or isolate is what you would need to be aware of.  Because that is not possible in most purchased products, it is best to abstain or content yourself with modest amounts of single note fragrances that have been approved for pregnancy by your qualified health care provider.


It will cause irritation and may cause damage.


Little children have been known to drink perfume.  Though our ingredients are generally regarded as safe when used as directed, they are not intended for oral consumption, especially if an entire bottle were to be consumed.  The amount (dose) in the tiny body of a small child is of concern.   Ingesting a few sprays is quite unlikely to harm a child, but we warn against taking a risk.

Children can accidentally spray their eyes or those of another child.  There will be irritation and possibly damage. 

They might take the perfume near high heat (a fire hazard). 

Or, they may break the glass and cut themselves.

To where can you ship?

We ship to the United States and its territories.  Customer shipping for online orders is free.  Your perfume contains alcohol, so it is required to ship “Surface Only” (boat, ground). 

See Terms and Conditions for more information.

What Are The Standards For Using The Term, "Natural"?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines natural, raw perfume materials as being obtained from plants through physical means of extraction, distillation or expression. If the materials are made in a lab to be “nature identical” or are synthetically modified, altered, reconstituted, etc., they cannot be described as “natural”.

Other agencies state that natural, aromatic, raw materials are considered to be essential oils and their fractions, isolates, resins, distillates, extracts and volatile concentrates.  Absolutes are not included.

Still other entities believe that organic or pesticide-free plants must be part of the definition.

Unfortunately, in the real world the term “Natural” means next to nothing and is commonly used deceptively.   Read on to learn more about what our natural materials truly are and to decide for yourself what you think.  

From Where do YOUR Raw Materials Come From?

As a preface to reading about the various raw materials used in our fragrances, a little about perfume and perfumery, first:

Each natural material in a perfume changes the other through contrast, harmonics, or modifying one another.  It is similar to music, which is where the terms “notes” and “accords” are drawn from.   Perfume is like a symphony produced by an orchestra of instruments; the raw materials of perfume.   

The volume of each single ingredient plays a role.  Even materials which are generally considered unpleasant can, in the right proportion and blend, yield a final voice in a perfume that is every bit divine.

Some volatile oils smell much like the raw materials they were extracted from.  Others are reminiscent of them.  Others are totally different.    

Long before the perfume begins to be developed, excellent quality raw materials must be located.  High quality is usually paired with high expense, and for good reason.  Each and every hand that nourishes excellence in the raw materials must be expert in their craft.  The farmer, the extractor, the perfumer.  All must be trustworthy and honest, and ideally have love for the soil, the plants,  and the essences.  The best from each expert and the cooperation of nature will result in phenomenal and incomparable beauty.

Here now is a window into the materials of natural perfumery — an ocean of luxurious beauty.


Herbs, dried or fresh, are familiar to all.  They’re used for food flavoring, teas or medicinal purposes. They are also used in natural perfumes. This may include the whole plant or its parts such as root or leaf.  Herbs are a lovely and highly diverse category of aromatics.  Many of are among the freshest (in smell and effect) of all natural aromatics and with great diversity to select from.

Many herbs have a friendly, kindly feel to them.  They are unassuming and unbeguiling.  As ‘personalities’ we think of them as having simple honesty and helpfulness.   There are, however some tough and powerful herbs that are potent in smell and effect, capable of ‘burning’ the skin without high dilution.  They are humanity’s allies in many ways.   

Some herbaceous aromatics smell ‘weedy’ and are less suitable for natural perfume.  Again, it is what they are blended with and the relative amount in a perfume that can make herbs so beautiful and effective at creating various positive positive physical, emotional, and mental effects as well as adding to the beauty.


Spices are technically herbs but are distinguished by their pungency.  Most will be familiar and easily identified, but in perfume they can take on a uniquely interesting character; sometimes a disguise. They may also be elevated to the star of a perfume, yet framed in a whole new light by the other aromatics used.

Spices can induce a feeling of strength or power.  They can be moving and passionate or be a comforting reminder of hearth, home, and belonging.  They can be exotic or familiar, calming or stimulating, and are usually warming, though some are much less so and can read ‘cool.. 

Their fragrance is similar.  Orchestrating their final voice in a perfume is part of the magic of perfumery.   


The aromatic extractions and pressed essences of the juice and rind of citrus fruits are refreshing and delightful fragrances that exude sunshine and cheer.  With rare exception, truly natural citrus essences are quite fleeting in perfume.  Other citrus-like aromatics may be used to extend the desirable smell and feel of citrus.

At Apologue, when we use citrus oils that are pressed from the rind, we avoid conventionally-grown (and heavily sprayed) material when at all possible (and it is rarely impossible). 


Derived from tree wood and bark, the woods are unmistakable in scent, steady in feel, and reminiscent of the stature trees. Though the various woods share similarities, they are diverse in their profiles.  Dry or warm, sometimes sweet in scent, the enduring comfort and strength of the stately woods are usually claimed by men. (But the ladies are catching on! The woods are gorgeous on women, and the man in her life will likely enjoy it.)

Those who have spent time in country life may have memories of a man returning from gathering firewood.  The fragrance of the wood mingling with his natural muskiness is unforgettable and deeply attractive.

Woods, like all aromatics, do not have a gender assigned to them, per se.  Perfume is about proportion and harmony of ingredients.  At Apologue, we focus on what will move the fragrance to a certain feeling and effect as well as a pleasurable scent that suits the wearer, regardless of gender.


With many varieties of aromatic products derived from evergreen needles, twigs, cones or woods, they earn a class of their own.

The needle aromatics are often fresh, green and airy delights.  Their scents vary to include terpenic, camphorous, pungent, sharp, tart, balsamic, sweet, dry, slightly bitter or even fruity.  They can feel meditative, refreshing, bracing, nourishing, stimulating, comforting, supportive, renewing, and more.   

As with any raw material of any category, the species of conifer, the part of the plant, the area it is grown, how it is extracted, what it is blended with, and how much of it is used will determine how it smells and feels in a given perfume.  

The conifer woods can be ‘dry’, but are generally sweeter, resinous, balsamic and somewhat reminiscent of the needles.  Deeply beautiful!


Extracted from the leaves of trees, shrubs, or other plants, natural leaf aromatics can add a verdant note to perfumes but, surprisingly perhaps, are more often camphorous, sweet, tart, sharp or citrus-like. The longevity is usually moderate and sometimes fleeting but may endure from first pleasure to the base notes.

Leaves, grasses and needles often bring an aspect of air, expansion and [breath of] life, not unlike their purpose for the plant.  Their nature is also to transform energy. . . and we feel it.


There are a fair number of grasses used in natural perfume but contrary to what one might expect, none give off a green “freshly cut grass” smell that we are all familiar with. Some grasses are lemony, others herbal in character.  Some are quite distinctive and unusual.  The grasses can provide an interesting nuance to natural perfume and occasionally play a bigger role.


These are beautiful, usually earthy scents, as one might guess. They are powerful and intense. True to their nature, they feel grounding and satisfying. 

Traditional cultures revere roots for their healing powers.  Many native tribes in the US associate bears with medicine because they seek out roots for food.   

Roots may be sweet and resin-like, powdery, or slightly floral.  Some are tart and pungent. These essences usually have excellent longevity and add depth and interest to perfume.  They feel grounding, satisfying, nourishing, solid, deep, reaching, touching, and powerful, which indeed, they are.


From toadstool to tree-born moss, these essences are capable of bringing sophistication and deeply attractive aspects to perfume. They provide relief from the sweeter aromatics, modify or balance others, and impart a bit of primal feeling like the animalics do.

Interestingly, mosses are one of the most primitive types of plants. They predate conifers and flowering plants. They have remained simple in structure and largely unchanged for millions of years.  Yet oddly, their fragrant essences are complex, quite unique, and a desirable element of perfume.

A fungus (think mushroom) is a skankier aromatic but in just the right smaller dose it becomes beautiful.  It is a powerful essence that needs paired with other powerful aromatics or kept to a minimum. 

You might think, “I don’t want any of that!”, but hold judgement; you might be surprised.


The aquatic (algae) plant has absolutely wonderful effects on perfume at the right dose and pairing.  

Seaweed, like the mosses, offers sophistication and relief or balance to other aromatics.  Its primal feeling is in keeping with its primal appearance, early in the timeline of the earth.  Its fragrance is penetrative;  its character is oceanic, much like the core of our body’s saltwater fluids.

The scent-impression that one smells near the ocean is caused in part by various algae metabolites.  Seaweed and ‘roasted shell’ essences offer an “oceanic” note but are not comparable to “oceanic” fragrances made with synthetics.


There are many types of resins, some called balsams, and a few pseudo resins.  Trees are the greatest source, but they also come from shrubs and plants.  Resins differ and may be sweet, intense, balsamic, incense-like, or reminiscent of fire, heat, smoke, or dryness.  Always moving and penetrating like the sun.  

The resins were used in ancient perfumery and have timeless appeal.  Along with aromatic “incense woods” the resins are most commonly found in incense, oriental perfumes and sacred settings, but their range in perfume extends well beyond those genres.

The power of resins to positively affect the mind and body is not widely known.  The ancients certainly knew it, including the kings and rulers.   In their day, resins were cash-equivalent.  Personal wealth, power, and entire economies were based on resins.  It’s telling to know that their Fort Knox was full of Frankincense, and the King’s portfolio included Myrrh.  Fast forward to today, science is finding strong anti-cancer properties in resins and many other benefits.


The royal jewels of perfumery, these aromatics are derived from the flowers of a tree, shrub, herb or spice. Herbal floral oils often contain a portion of the stems and leaves as well.

Some flowers are maidenly, tender, delicate and enchanting. Others are like the voluptuous and heady queens of the night. Still others are nothing short of majestic. Floral aromatics have touching effects on hormones, emotions, skin, and more. They are good for the heart and uplifting to the spirit.  Many more beneficial effects can be anticipated.

Classically feminine, we now see that men are embracing florals. (What happens is most interesting!) Even if in small amounts, most perfumes for either gender are improved by the presence of a flower.


These fragrant natural essences are made of such things as sea shells or co-distillations of dirt.  Yes, dirt.  The aroma is indescribably lovely.  The elixir lends itself beautifully to many perfumes – if you can bear to give it up to them.

In this category we place an aromatic that is created from a prehistoric, naturally polymerized resin.  The effect creates a rock-like material, similar to petrification but without being mineralized over time.   It can loosely be called a mineral.  Only in the last few decades have we been able to discover what this “rock” really was.  We include it here but perhaps it could be classified with other resins.

The mineralics are probably the most surprising sources for fragrance, add interesting and appealing effects to the smell and feel of a perfume.    


Derived from an animal or bee product, these beautiful essences add warmth and longevity to natural perfumes. Their scents strike deeply at the core of our own animal being.  They are seductively attractive in the right dilution.  Sometimes familiar, sometimes exotic, the animalics are as akin to humanity as plants.  Quality natural product is without peer.

Read “Animal Testing and Cruelty Free” in a section on this page, below.


Apologue uses aromatics from all of the above categories.

How Are Crops for Raw Perfumery Materials Grown?


This term refers to a system of horticulture or farming techniques that encourage plant and soil health.  The dramatically improved purity and health of the soil will pass on health and vibrancy to the plants. The fragrance, nutrition and taste of the plants improve while minimizing toxicity.  Organic horticulture is achieved without the use of synthetic fertilizers and biocides (pesticides & herbicides).  Animal manure that is often used for fertilization is not necessarily from organically raised animals. 

Organically grown plants, fruits and vegetables will typically have a richer aroma and taste but that is not necessarily translated into the extracts that perfumers use. The art and methods of producing any perfumer’s materials are strongly affected by many variables, not simply the original species and farming method.


This is an aromatic made from plant material grown in soil that is being transitioned from conventional farming land to [the goal of] organic farming land. The soil is in the process of “rehabilitation” or natural soil-cleansing and soil-building that only time and organic farming methods can provide. A transitional product may be one year into the process or at the end of the process, nearing the time where Organic Certification is possible.


This means the botanical material was never sprayed with pesticides or herbicides (biocides).  It is used in three ways: 1) crops grown in any soil and possibly with synthetic fertilizers, 2) as a synonym for transitional, 3) referring to an organic crop from a farmer that does not have organic certification. The latter is not unusual around the world. The certification process can be costly and or corrupt. To claim pesticide-free the products must be tested by a laboratory to verify the claim.


This refers to perfumery materials derived from wild-growing aromatic plants that have been gathered by hand.  A wild plant will have a more robust scent and chemical profile than its cultivated counterpart.  This makes sense when one considers that the wild plant has had to fight for its life on its own.  Wild crafted plants are desirable as medicine but can be put to good use by perfumers as well. 

Wild crafting can be a good thing, but it has the potential to kill the goose that laid the golden egg; meaning over-gathering. What is important to know is if the plants are responsibly gathered or endangered, which we monitor.


This refers to plants grown with synthetic fertilizers and sprayed with synthetic biocides (pesticides/herbicides). They are grown in soil that is no longer healthy.  Unhealthy soil produces less than healthy plants but they can still be aromatically beautiful.  Traces of biocides will be found in the extracted perfumery material.

Large numbers of aromatics are available only in Conventionally Grown but this is in the process of changing.  Increasingly, farmers are converting to organic farming.   Currently, the situation is still limiting to the perfumer’s palette, to not use at least some conventional materials.

To drill down a bit on the issue of toxicity:  (Read no further if you are happily lacking the geek-gene for perfume and health.)

Conventionally grown aromatic plants and conventionally grown foods contain roughly the same concentration of biocides.  However, using Apologue’ perfumes is vastly safer than eating conventional, non-organic food.

Here is why that is true:


Average adult food consumption in the US is about 2000 pounds per year per person.   2000 dry pounds = 30,680 liquid ounces per year.  By contrast, individual perfume usage usually ranges from 1-3 liquid ounces per year, perhaps more if you live in South America or the Middle East.

Although researchers have had difficulty in knowing precisely how much biocide is retained in natural volatile oils, most testing has placed the amount at about half (0.45%) of the EPA allowed amount of 0.9 ppm (parts per million).

Skin absorption of biocides is ten times less than if ingested. Research shows that less than 10% makes it into circulation. That reduces the ppm to 0.045%. [1]

Apologue uses about 9% by volume of conventionally grown materials, usually less, reducing the ppm to 0.0045%, which lowers exposure to less than one part per billion.   Each Apologue-spritz delivers 1.6 drops

In other words, you will have infinitesimal exposure.  More biocides are consumed into circulation in one day of non-organic meals than in years of lavishly using Apologue Perfumes.

Additionally, more toxins are inhaled into circulation in one minute of breathing major-city air than in decades of lavishly using Apologue Perfumes.

Here is why that is true


Breaths taken each day per person number about 23,040 on average.  The average resting single-breath-volume is about ½ liter of air. That equals 11,520 liters per day of air inhaled.

The amount of major-city air pollution in the US can be averaged at around 23.00 ppm. That calculates to 1 ppm per liter of air, so 11,520 liters = 11,520 ppm inhaled in one day. That calculates to 8 ppm (part per million) in one minute.*    Apologue’ perfume contains 1 part per billion, not million.  Even if you spritz 6 times a day, it dwarfs against your 1,140 minutes each day of breathing. 

That makes Apologue’ perfumes tens of millions of times less toxic than breathing.

The fact is that a natural eau de parfum made with all conventional materials is safer than exclusively eating non-organic food or breathing.

Apologue’s use of organic materials for its perfumes has a greater positive effect on its aesthetics and environmental health than on your health.  However, all positive outcomes, however minuscule, are still positive.


The subjects of “natural isolates” and “synthetic isolates” are discussed under “How Are Perfumery Materials Extracted”, next.


[1] Hotchkiss S 1994 How thin is your skin? New Scientist 141(1910): 24-27

* The number is lower in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas but the ratio of inhaled-air-toxins remain vastly higher than in heavy perfume usage.

How Are Perfumery Materials Extracted?


An essential oil is the aromatic volatile oil of herbs, spices, shells, leaves, grass, citrus juice, rind, bark, resin, wood, roots, rhizomes, and fungi, extracted through mechanical pressing or steam or hydro-distillation.

Natural aromatic volatile oils are fifty to thousands of times more concentrated than the raw materials they are extracted from. Some are safe and pleasant to use full strength. Most require various levels of dilution.

These “oils” are used in perfume, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, natural medicines, the beauty and spa industries, sacred ceremonies and air freshening.



Here, the volatile oil is solvent-extracted using Carbon dioxide under pressure, (which becomes a liquid). When the volatile oil has been extracted, pressure is normalized. The CO2 returns to a gaseous state and totally evaporates, leaving no trace. Also known as supercritical extraction.

Some of the plant-waxes remain in CO2 extractions, which are filtered out by the perfumer. Often CO2 products will smell closer to the original plant materials. That scent profile may or may not be preferable in the harmony, longevity or diffusion of a given perfume. There has been a steady increase in perfumer’s materials that are extracted by this method and we hope to see more.



There are properties of absolutes that differ from essential oils in color, odor, chemical makeup, and evaporation time.  Absolutes, CO2s, Tinctures, Macerations, Essential Oils – all from the same part of the same plant will have differing odor profiles.  Absolutes are typically richer and more tenacious in character, and in our opinion vital to fine natural perfumes.  Absolutes are exquisitely beautiful.

Not to be confused with “absolu/e”, an absolute is also a volatile oil. It is obtained through solvent extraction (hexane). Solvent extraction can be used for all raw materials containing volatile oils but most often will used to obtain the fragrance of flowers, which are too delicate to be extracted with water distillation methods.

Hexane may be confused with benzene, which in the past was used in extraction, which is quite toxic. Today, hexane has replaced benzene.

Although most of us would prefer nothing un-natural, here is a report by a well-respected researcher:

“Concretes and absolutes always contain traces of the solvent used – usually in the 1-5 ppm range. Hexane is not highly toxic, and this concentration of hexane possesses zero toxicity, hence approval for food use.” [1]


Apologue’ perfumes contain less than 0.08 -0.40 ppm, because our use of Absolutes is about 8% by volume or less, depending on the perfume.

The industry is now moving toward brand new “hexane-free” absolutes. The market is still quite limited in what is offered, but it is expected to grow.  It will take many years for the industry to fully convert. We are in support of this, chiefly due to the impact in aggregate on the environment. Apologue is slowly converting to hexane-free, primarily for that reason.

Read “Conventional” in the “How Crops for Raw Perfumery Materials are Grown” section to understand how infinitesimally small “trace amounts” really are. Breathing city air, driving down the freeway, eating non-organic or fast food and cleaning your home with conventional cleaners are far greater sources of impurity. . .  So much so that it hardly bears comparison and is difficult to overstate.

Many natural perfumers avoid this type of transparency because a) it is viewed as splitting hairs many times over, b) it may be thought of as not consequential enough to bother mentioning, or c) because it is so safe, it is thought wiser to just focus on the luxury and joy of perfume and be done. 

We agree with these perfumers.  However, once some perfume companies start marketing in ways that unjustly or unnecessarily frightens the consumer it becomes time to clarify.  There are much bigger worries in our lives.  We don’t need this one too.  The toxicity of our food, water, and air are the serious issues.



Also known as an Infusion, this is a technique that uses slow-steeping of raw, dried, minced plant material in fatty oil to extract the volatile oils. It captures larger molecules that are otherwise missed in other extraction techniques.

Gentle, low heat quickens the process (for example, placing the mixture in sunlight). High heat destroys desirable constituents. The principles are similar to the ones applied to raw-food diets. The steeping time needed varies.

Interestingly, the wide variety of extraction techniques serve to capture the majority-breadth of what a plant has to offer in both scent and other benefits.



This refers to natural materials that have been alcohol-extracted. The material to be tinctured is first thoroughly dried and then placed in alcohol to steep for weeks, months or years. Some solids will fully disintegrate into the alcohol. Others will leave visible solids behind. Either way the tincture will be filtered for its end use in perfume.*

A simple dilution of liquid perfumery aromatics into alcohol, synthetic or natural, may be referred to as a tincture as well.


*Apologue has beautiful tinctures of rare varieties of Myrrh on tap as well as rare tinctures that have been aged for years.



A hydrosol is a concentrated water-based extract of the water-soluble constituents of an aromatic plant. Some hydrosols are extracted as a primary product, but most are created as a byproduct from the distillation of the plant to obtain its volatile oil.

Hydrosols contain the water-soluble components of the plant, like a tea or tisane does. They also contain lesser amounts of the fragrant essential oil.

Hydrosols are wonderful for linen sprays, cleansing, skin care, refreshing misting sprays, and drinks (gustatory or medicinal ). They are excellent options for gentle-acting cosmetics or medicines.

Although the term “hydrosol” and “aromatic water” are largely synonymous, they are not always the same thing. “Rose Water”, for example, may not be a true hydrosol but instead a fragranced water, either with synthetic or natural isolates. It may be “watered down” natural hydrosol and a pale representation of a quality product.  Some of the finest and most swoon-worthy natural floral waters come from the orient and may be found in ethnic grocery stores.   

Any quality natural aromatic is hugely labor and skill intensive. There is a limited supply.  The best is more limited.  The high cost of excellence is perennial and usually justified.  This tempts many to adulterate their wares or falsely claim a synthetic is “natural”.  Unfortunately, this occurs across all fragrance sectors.  The ‘smoking gun’ or the tell of the tale is that the amount of all-natural aromatics on the commodities market is far lower than the amount of “natural aromatics” sold to consumers.



Oils or fats are lipids, not volatile oils.  They may be used as the base for perfume or for richly moisturizing skin preparations that are perfumed.  Deodorized fat is used to extract the volatile oils from flowers in a rarely used process.

In perfumery, an aromatic absolute (volatile oil) is extracted from butter (a lipid) and is categorized as an animalic.  


Refers to a fatty oil (aka, fatty acid or lipid) of vegetable origin.  Various oils can be liquid or solid at room temperature and will have a variety of cosmetic, medicinal and viscosity properties that are selected for the desired affect on the skin, or what will best carry a fragrance or best compliment a formula.  The stability of the oil, (the time in which it takes to turn rancid), is also a factor.

Oils can be either cold pressed (desirable) or heat extracted (not healthy).

To confuse matters, the term, “Oil” may also be used to quickly refer to a volatile oil.


Refers to a lipid of animal origin such as Emu or Mink oil, Lanolin, Lard, Tallow, Leaf Lard, Suet or Butter. Usually, some amount of heat is used to render the fat.



A natural isolate is a constituent of a whole volatile oil.  It is similar to a synthetic isolate but rather than being created from a petroleum base-material it is either extracted from a plant using various advance extraction techniques or grown via biological processes.

Synthetic vs. Natural Isolates:

The aesthetic differences are listed on the “Our Ingredients” web page.

Here are other key differences along with some conflicts in opinion regarding the subject of Isolates.

Natural isolates are always found in nature.   Some synthetic isolates are found in nature and some are not.  Nature, including the human body, has never in known history had any natural interface with unnatural chemicals.  These unnatural chemicals are the subject of real concern, with most causing damage of one kind or another, proven by researchers.  The effects are far-reaching and of concern.

Regarding the so-called “nature-identical” synthetics isolates vs. a naturally sourced isolate, there is controversy regarding whether there is a difference or not.  How important the differences is not known.  These are probably much safer than non-natural isolates.  No red flags have surfaced about them, at any rate. 

Certainly the synthetics are usually less expensive to use and thus increase the profit of the perfumery. 

A synthetic from the same company is more consistent in smell from batch to batch, though the excellence can vary between companies.

The majority of scientists and perfumers believe that there is no difference in a synthetic “nature-identical isolate” and a natural isolate.  Other scientists disagree, listing strong arguments and proofs.  In fact, the art of reproducing nature’s work is challenging and simply not mastered yet.  The beauty and cost of naturals are incentives to duplicate them in the lab.  True matches are yet to be mastered.  This is based on small differences overall.  Comparing the natural to the synthetic in a sniff-test is telling.  

In regard to any isolate, synthetic or natural, we believe there is another issue that ties into the public debate that largely centers on allergies.   The idea of synergy and the idea of balancing the body should be on the radar of consumers.  In perfume, the issue is small because so little is used.  However, isolate intake increases through food flavoring and processing, thus increasing the intake.   Environmental exposure also increases the intake.

This is an opportunity to drill down.

Regarding Synergy

This is the idea that whole food or whole aromatics, with all their natural constituents present will have a separate and superior effect on health that is distinct from a processed or fractured set of isolates.  Synergy is the complimentary effect between all parts, such as body + perfume.  This brings up the “entourage effect” of any particular whole substance.  The entourage effect describes the effect of the parts in the whole, working together.  

Regarding Balance

This is the idea that the body and natural environment, when in perfect health, have a natural ratio of elements that are in perfect balance.  To get too much or too little of one or more elements is to disturb the balance.  The proportion of imbalance leads to degrees of illness.

When speaking of personal perfume, so little is used and drawn into circulation that neither synthetic nor natural isolate imbalance is a big deal.  Unless of course one develops an allergy or sensitivity to any single isolate.  If that happens, the reaction may occur thereafter, whether or not an isolate or whole product is used.  (Though many people can use a whole-aromatics or whole-food without experiencing the same problem.)

What is the big deal involves the amount that is getting into the environment from our collective use.  It also gets concentrated as it moves up the food-chain.  As we breathe, bathe, eat, and drink it adds up, such as in eating animal products where imbalanced or toxic elements are most concentrated or swimming in polluted lakes where high and prolonged skin contact occurs, etc.  The air we breathe is of issue.

The wisest and most productive action is to limit unnatural products that are used in higher volume.  (As opposed to using a few drops of perfume.)  For example, body wash, shampoo, cleaning, laundry, and yard products.  Also ensure wholesomeness in water and food.



Two main types of perfumer’s alcohol are used in perfumery; Denatured and Undenatured.

Denatured is ethyl alcohol with noxious ingredients added, with idea that it will discourage someone from drinking it.

Undenatured is simply pure ethyl alcohol.

The raw crops used to make alcohol are commonly grain, grapes, and sugar cane, although other crops can be used, each with a subtle character of its own, though not as distinctly different as most drinking alcohols are, such as brandy vs. tequila or rum. 

Some perfumers will use a portion of their alcohol as rum, brandy, or other highly fragrant alcohol to influence of the scent of their perfume.  Care is taken due to the higher water content of most drinking alcohols.


Apologue uses all of the above raw materials except synthetic isolates.  We use only undenatured, 190 proof, organic alcohol.  Our alcohol is food grade*.   We vary in the use of grain, grape, cane, or other specialty alcohols.  

*Please note: Do not drink our perfumes. 




What Are the different Perfume Products and Traditional Concentrations or Potency?

The following are names are designations of concentration of aromatic solutes in perfume or the type of carrier used for the aromatics.

The base or carrier most commonly used is perfumer’s alcohol. The alcohol usually contains 5% water (190 proof). Some perfumers add more water for a few reasons such as calming the alcohol smell, softening the feel, or reducing expense.

There are considerable differences in concentration within a given category. * For example, Parfum can vary from 20-45%. Commonly about 25%.

Other liquid perfumes may use oil and or liquid wax as a carrier. They range from weak but pleasant to deliciously rich. This will be sold as “Perfume oil”, (not to be confused with a synthetic aroma chemical by the same name).

Solid perfumes add beeswax to the base to firm the product. Like liquid perfumes, a solid perfume oil will wear longer but closer to the body than an alcohol based natural perfume.

Rarely, the consumer can find perfumes where water is the main carrier and most often use an emulsifier to keep the volatile oils in solution with the water.  If no emulsifier is used, such as in hair perfumes or ultra niche artisan perfumes, the separation of the oil and water will be visible. The contents must be manually agitated immediately prior to spritzing to temporarily mix the two.

Gel perfumes are available as well, with water and an emulsifier present in the formula, along with a thickener.  A gel perfume will most likely use synthetic ingredients throughout.


From the highest to lowest concentrations:


The most concentrated and the most expensive. Quite beautiful. Often sold in smaller quantities.


Most perfume wearers in the US select this concentration. It is satisfyingly intense and sufficient for most tastes.


This is a mild but respectable concentration. Many like it for the lighter-wearing aspect. The lower cost is a bonus.

Here, the word “Toilet” is a translation from the French “Toilette”, commonly used for what is involved in grooming. The common meaning in American English is less glamorous, so the word is less favored.


Classically, Cologne is made predominately of lighter weight molecules, plenty of top notes and citrus, and is fairly fleeting.  It is meant to refresh or invigorate upon application. It leaves little fragrance behind over a relatively short time, but the lift or ‘shift’ one experiences lasts longer.

Both genders enjoy colognes, a lighter personal scent.

Today in the US, “Cologne” is commonly used to denote a masculine fragrance. In this case it usually has a stronger concentration, sometimes denoted with terms such as “Intense” or “Absolu/e”. The actual concentration of Men’s “cologne” is likely to be the equivalent of mild or rich Eau de Toilet, or possibly closer to an Eau de Parfum. It is not easy to really know what you have purchased. The best advice is to look for the other names, above, or compare by sampling first.  It can be the wild-west of shopping.

Parfum-concentration in products for men can be challenging.

When a perfumer designs a line of fragrance products around a particular scent, the formula will usually change with the product as well as the concentration. However, all the products in the line such as candles, body cream and the like, will smell similar or related and complimentary to the higher concentration products.


This is the least concentrated and most fleeting of all the alcohol based perfumes.  After Shave is an example.  Again, the effect can last longer than the scent.


*Apologue chooses to list its products by the classic name for the given concentration of our perfumes, regardless of gender. We think it is helpful for the consumer to know more closely what they are buying.

Our Names of Beauty Collection is created in an EDP concentration, which has a classic range of acceptable potency. Ours is 15% at least, depending on the nature of the ingredients. This is typical of quality EDP.

What Is The Difference Between Threatened or Endangered?

“THREATENED” means the plant has become increasingly scarce in the wild, potentially threatening the species. It puts us all on alert to cautiously and more closely monitor the seriousness of the status of the plant, or if needed reverse the negative trend through moderating use or to seek alternatives and so on.

“ENDANGERED” means the plant has become critically scarce to the point that the survival of the species is imminently at stake. In this case we should all cease to buy or use products made from that plant in a concerted effort to help prevent its extinction. To lose species is a loss to us all. The additional loss of balance in the environment and the loss to future generations is incalculable.

There are nuances not readily apparent in the reports found on the internet about “threatened” or “endangered” species that may be confusing or misleading:

Regarding specific plant species with a very a specific scent profile that only grows in a specific geographical area: When those plants are endangered, it means exactly that. An example is Sandalwood, specifically from the Mysore region of India. It is endangered and we should all avoid its use. Yet Sandalwood from plantations in other areas of the planet are well-managed and are perfectly responsible to use.

Some endangered species lists can be inadvertently misleading. A plant may be indeed be endangered in one area of the planet but be abundant in the wild in another area, or under cultivation somewhere else. Here is where you must either do your own research or trust your perfumer to source responsibly.


If Apologue Perfumes Uses Aromatics from a Threatened or Endangered Species you may assume:

We are tapping our stock of beautifully aged materials, purchased long before the plant was placed on the endangered species list -or-

We are using materials that are in healthy supply from an abundant location and are not truly threatened or endangered -or-

We may have missed a problem. If so, please let us know.

Are Apologue Perfumes Cruelty Free?

Apologue Perfumes is “animal testing and cruelty-free”. We support changes in our global system that starts with recognizing that animals are sentient beings, capable of great suffering and with no way to voice their pain.

Apologue had to make the decision to remain silent on this claim – or if we made the claim, to ensure you knew what it really meant:

All materials intended for human consumption, including all-natural perfume materials have at some point in the past been tested on animals by researchers and is required by law in the USA for the designation “GRAS”, or “generally regarded as safe”. Claiming “no animal testing” in perfumery only means that no testing is done in that business because, of course, there is no need.

Not engaging in animal cruelty is relatively simple to claim when one deals with botanicals only. The statement becomes little more than an announcement of a political stance or addressing customers who look for businesses who have taken such a stance.

If using natural animalic fragrances the claim becomes more important*.

*Apologue uses “found” animalics, which means that the animal left the aromatic substance behind and someone literally found it.

We also use supplies that are verified to be from areas where the overpopulation of the animal is causing devastating environmental effects. Here, when relocation is not feasible and culling the animals is a critical and unavoidable solution, we find no ethical dilemma.

Some animalics that we use are extracted from cultivated raw materials such as beeswax products or domesticated animals products such as dairy, using humane methods.

Natural Musk and Civet are not purchased on the open market at this time because of our uncertainties surrounding reports of animal mistreatment and possible endangerment.


Overall, animal cruelty is quite a complex issue. There may be exceptional circumstances that give the appearance of cruelty when in fact there is none. There are times when one moral requirement conflicts with another.

But indeed, there are many obvious and needless reasons that animals suffer.

Apologue makes these twin claims because we avoid negative consequences for animals within a reasonable, contextual framework. We support the kind care of animals in any circumstance and support the preservation of their habitat.

What Is The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Isolates?

An isolate is a chemical substance in an uncombined or pure state.

Natural Isolates are made by nature and extracted by man.

Synthetic Isolates are made by man from a secondary raw material, usually petroleum-based.

More about isolates can be found under:

“Our Ingredients“ via the menu tabs at the top of each page.

“How Perfumery Ingredients Are Extracted”, above.


A mandatory disclaimer to any statement on this website that might be construed as health advice:

The reader should assume it is educational or opinion and otherwise seek medical advice from an appropriate physician about their health care decisions and treatment.

 “The use of our perfume produces an invisible diffusion from oneself of that which is most loved. . .

It uplifts the heart, creates a renewal like bathing does, and is transporting like a dream.

It is an ally on your journey and a reflection, like a mirror, of how beautiful you really are.”



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