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Monday, May 01, 2006

Better perfume for less money

Since The Bargain Queen's thinking about perfume, she's going to share her best tip for finding breath-taking fragrances without paying an inflated purchase price which covers not only the fragrance, but also those glossy ads you see in Vogue.

While The Bargain Queen wears a commercial fragrance most days, she also uses top quality French essential oils - the kind that were used in perfumery until chemistry and profit margins took over. These beautiful oils are extracted from the plants and have a complexity and nuance that manufactured chemicals lack. They also cost $5-20 for a small bottle that will last over a year if you wear a couple of drops each day.

The trick to getting these so cheaply is to ignore the over-priced little bottles in the chemist (drug store) and go to a good aromatherapy supplier. The Bargain Queen's favourite is New Directions, which now has branches outside Australia as well.

An aromatherapy supplier will sell the really expensive oils like rose and jasmine as 3% dilutions that are safe to use directly on your skin; others you'll need to dilute yourself in a carrier oil like jojoba oil because full-strength oil is too strong. (The only oil which can be used on the skin undiluted is lavender, which is great for treating insect bites but not The Bargain Queen's favourite perfume.)

So what are The Bargain Queen's favourites? She especially loves Bulgarian rose, neroli, champaka, rose geranium and tuberose. These are all beautiful by themselves, or as an accompaniment to a commercial perfume. They're far better quality than the stuff in department stores, they're cheaper and arguably a lot healthier than dousing yourself in chemicals.

The down side to using them? Apart from being harder to source, using them spoils your nose so you'll probably never like commercial perfumes again. This leads to a potentially sticky situation the next time a loved one generously buys you a bottle of Britney. You'll probably grimace when you first smell it, which makes later declarations of appreciation seem a little, erm, fake...

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  • At 9:30 am, Blogger Rebecca said…

    I'm so glad you wrote this now, when I am almost out of perfume. I just hate the stuff that you put on and it smells too much at first and then wears off, so I always buy the expensive stuff. (Of course, I like to save money too.)


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