Step into Weleda’s fragrance garden

By Jo Fairley

‘How can I find a truly natural fragrance?’ As an editor at and co-author of The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible and The Green Beauty Bible, that’s definitely a Frequently Asked Question. But having in 2014 launched The Perfume Society, a go-to website and networking organisation for fragrance-lovers, I know very well that scents based purely on botanicals are tantalisingly hard to find – and to formulate. (Which is how come the famous 1970s trend for wearing neat patchouli oil on the skin came about – and plenty of us remember those heady times!)

It’s no surprise to me that there’s a yearning for natural fragrances. Botanical perfumery somehow makes the wearer feel more connected with the earth and the seasons. But however glorious, in their natural state, pure botanical essences present even the most accomplished perfumer with challenges. For my book The Perfume Bible, I interviewed renowned Californian ‘natural perfumer’ Mandy Aftel, who explained to me: ‘Natural essences, unlike their synthetic counterparts, contain minute trace elements which change their character – hence why Moroccan rose smells different from Bulgarian rose or Egyptian rose.’ And why the team behind Weleda’s new ‘Jardin de Vie’ triptych of fragrances has a team of skilled perfumers to check the consistency of the scents, from batch to batch: as Dr. Leo Zängerie, who heads up the Weleda Fragrance Development Centre, explained to me, ‘The elements – sun, wind, rain – can influence the success of a crop, and determine whether a particular harvest is going to be a vintage year…’

Those ingredients might come from flowers, fruits, leaves, roots and barks – but each has an exquisite richness which (aside from reconnecting us with nature) is part of their charm. An essential oil, in fact, may contain as many as 250 different components with top notes, heart notes and base notes within the profile of each individual oil. How’s that for complexity…?

It’s widely acknowledged that what’s hard to achieve in natural perfumery, however, is the longevity of, say, a classic French parfum: it’s often synthetics which make for ‘staying power’ on the skin. But Weleda has created a new category for these airy naturals: ‘Eau Naturelle Parfumée’. Each of the ‘Jardin de Vie’ fragrances is akin to an Eau de Cologne strength – a classic Eau de Cologne contains 3-8% of the scented oils within each bottle, the Weleda fragrances contain around 5%. And in the case of Jardin de Vie, Dr Leo Zängerle explained to me, every ‘zhoosh!’ delivers an aromatherapeutic benefit. ‘We also take into account the therapeutic benefits of a fragrance and the impact on the sense of wellbeing. The fragrance of a plant is the expression of the spirituality of nature: pure essential oils are capable of touching the soul of a person very deeply.’

And with the launch of Weleda’s Jardin de Vie triptych of scents, women (and men) who use holistic skincare, eat organically and generally seek to tread more lightly on the planet can also smell pretty darned gorgeous, without making any compromise on ingredients. And at last, I’m looking forward to giving an answer – with a smile - when a Beauty Bible reader asks me: ‘How can I find a truly natural fragrance…?’

Trying and wearing a natural fragrance

  • Natural fragrances should, wherever possible, be experienced on the skin rather than smelled on a perfume blotter; they have a unique interaction with body chemistry, blossoming on the skin and smelling subtly different on every individual.
  • If you’re already a fan of one of the three Weleda skincare collections on which Jardin de Vie is based – Wild Rose, Sea Buckthorn and Pomegranate – you might want to make a bee-line for the fragrance which has been created as an echo of that range.
  • As it happens, three is the optimum number of fragrances to sample on the skin at any one time. Spritz one Jardin de Vie fragrance on each wrist and one onto the crook of one elbow. (Make a note of what you’ve sprayed where; it’s fiendishly hard to remember!) Wait a minute or two before smelling your skin to gather the initial impressions, and then smell again after 15 minutes – when the heart notes will emerge – and again after an hour, when you’ll get an idea of the base notes. That’ll give you a good reading of the evolution of the perfume on your skin.
  • If you prefer not to wear fragrance on your skin – even a natural scent – then hair makes a fantastic ‘carrier’ for perfume. Or spritz the inside hem of your clothes, or the lining of a jacket, or a darker-coloured scarf, and enjoy the fragrance as it’s ‘time-released’.

Agrume Jardin de Vie 50ml

Discover the garden of life. Inspired by the natural fragrances in our Sea Buckthorn skin care range, Agrume captures the sunbeams of a light-filled day for you.


Rose Jardin de Vie 50ml

Discover the garden of life. Jardin de Vie Rose is inspired by the fragrance of our Wild Rose skin care range, beckoning you into a heavenly scented garden of beauty and harmony.


Grenade Jardin de Vie 50ml

Discover the garden of life. Inspired by our Pomegranate skin care range, this rich, sensual fragrance leads you into an exotic world.