Today, the most common carrier or solvent for perfumes is alcohol, but in ancient times perfumes were made up of fragrant materials in an oil base. Scented oils and balms were some of the very first recorded perfumes created by the Egyptians and Middle Eastern cultures. They used to impregnate rich oils with crushed herbs, spices, flower petals and resins and apply these fragrant oils as perfume. With the discovery of making alcohol, most perfumes produced switched to an alcohol base.
Oil-based perfumes wear differently to alcohol-based perfumes. While there’s less projection with the perfume wearing closer to the skin, there is better longevity since the oil molecules hold the perfume down for longer. Alcohol-based perfumes are quite diffusive and have an intense initial flash, due to the alcohol that evaporates quickly and transports the aromatic molecules around the wearer. With oil-based perfumes, the scent is slightly more subtle and has a slow reveal but lingers on one’s skin for longer. This also has to do with the fact that the longevity of a perfume is increased when applied on moisturised skin, as opposed to dry skin where the scent just disappears after a while. Using an oil perfume cancels out the need to moisturise beforehand as the oil base hydrates the skin as a result.
Wearing an oil-based perfume is like engaging a mystery – the oil keeps the fragrance close to the skin. The scent develops slowly and reveals itself in a humble and charming way. The act of applying an oil-based perfume with a dabber is a beautiful ritual that dates back many centuries, and the feeling of the oil on the skin is wonderfully silky. Experiencing oil-based perfume is soft and alluring, and has a sense of slowing down with a sacred reverence.