It’s a bit sad (if not predictable)—after I moved over to all homemade, natural body products, my modest collection of perfumes (all three of them) lost the majority of their appeal to me. They’re just so strong and artificial smelling, which is rather sad as I liked them all so much when I got them. One in particular is from a trip to New Zealand with my friend Sarah, and it will always smell like “down under” to me.


Anyhow, it was about time I started to make my own perfume—I feel like I’ve dabbled in most everything else by now anyways. When I discovered Saffire Blue I noticed they stocked perfumery alcohol, but I didn’t feel any particular desire to order some until my first bottle of labdanum essential oil arrived from New Directions Aromatics.


You see, up until I’d encountered labdanum essential oil, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to create a scent that was sufficiently mysterious for my tastes. Call me ridiculous if you like, but I don’t want my perfumes to be easily interpreted. That’s something I’ve always loved about any of the perfumes I’ve ever bought—they’re a sensory symphony of memories and emotions, not a buffet of familiar scents. Perfume should be exotic and beguiling—deep and mysterious, with notes of this and that, that tug at the memory. Perfume should be a mystery.


That is where labdanum comes in. Everyone who smells it can grasp at a note or two, but nobody can nail it down, and that is why I love it. I’m not sure if I feel that it is a sensory version of myself, or if I just really, really like it, but that wee bottle immediately had me thinking perfume.

I started by rubbing a drop between my wrists, and another behind my ears, and just reveling in the scent of it over the day. Mmmm. Then, I started thinking about what it might blend well with. I’d try adding a drop of lime, or rose, and seeing what I thought of it as the scent matured over the day. No matter what I tried, or added to it, though, I was always drawn to that labdanum base note. It is downright addictive.


So, that’s where this first perfume came from. I whipped it up one morning before work in a small little roller bottle, and brought it into the office. I know you’re supposed to wait at least three weeks, but I just couldn’t. I had all the women try it (well, I pretty much just said “give me your wrist” and rolled some on, but whatever), and they all loved it. We all monitored its development over the course of the day, meaning we were all somewhat suspiciously smelling ourselves and commenting on it all day long. The consensus was positive. And, since it was a large enough amount, I’ve been able to monitor it as it has aged as well. I like it. Deep and mysterious, with bright citrus notes from the bergamot, and hints of floral rose and deep benzoin. I’m in love.


I’m calling it “Beguiling Embrace”. I thought about this for quite a long time, sitting at my desk, sniffing myself and perusing the thesaurus and dictionary (there’s a mental image for you). “Beguiling” (bee-guy-ling) means charming and enchanting, with deceptive & mysterious undertones. “Embrace”, of course, is to hold somebody or something close, with affection. I feel like this is the perfect name for a scent that is warm, yet mysterious, and never fails to stir feelings of contentment and mystery in me.

Beguiling Embrace: a perfume

50% perfumery alcohol
30% labdanum essential oil
15% benzoin essential oil
4.5% bergamot essential oil
0.5% rose absolute

Combine everything in a 5mL roller bottle. Seal and gently turn to combine—any sediment from the essential oils will dissolve in an hour or two. Leave to age for at least three weeks, though it is really quite lovely straight away.