The ritual of extrait de parfum
n. a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.
Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
There is something enchanting in a ritual of dabbing perfume, applying it directly on your skin without using a spray pump. Small flacons remind us of vintage perfumes made long time ago, perhaps, when our grandmothers kept their precious French perfumes in drawers.
The first modern perfumes appeared in apothecary stopper bottles, while the ancient perfumes were kept in clay, wood containers. In the 1800s the design started changing, crystal bottles with brass caps appeared and were followed by many new shapes and labels. While dab flacons were used because there was no other way before spray pumps appeared, in fact, they help us connect with the fragrance more closely. Perfume application is a long-awaited moment for any woman. Starting the day with a floral fragrance or finishing it with a rich amber perfume feels like indulging in a sacred rite, it brings us back to our roots when women used to anoint themselves with oils. In Ancient Egypt the wife used to anoint her spouse as a sign of affection. Dab flacons make us slow down and take pleasure in the sensuous process. Although anointing was used as a form of medicine, to rid persons and things of dangerous spirits which were believed to cause disease, these days using a perfume is a form of luxurious experience, a self-indulgence.
Natural perfumes are created to be closer to nature in its whole form. Extraits containing a large amount of oils, absolutes and other plant extractions become heavier and more oily, even from the practical point of view, dabbing seems more convenient. If you want to smell lavender, you rub it in your hands to release essential oils and then you inhale the aroma. For me, using a botanical parfum extrait must be as close as possible to lavender experience.
There are a few practical reasons why I chose to use dab bottles:
- I wanted to avoid unnecessary plastic parts, like spray pumps, which end up in the oceans
- I wanted to go back to the roots of the alchemic process of pure essence creation and I, in fact, imagine simple apothecary bottles every time
- I wanted to apply simplicity and minimalism
- I wanted to make parfum extraits because they are rare these days and extraits are always bottled in dab flacons
- Dab bottles can be re-used!
But there are many other reasons which will convince you to dab your favourite botanical perfume! Dabbing can help apply perfume where you need it, perfumes can stain clothes. Applying targeted small amounts of extrait can help you achieve the scent you want: strong or soft. But dabbing does not mean you have to rub it, no way! Apply gently where you need it, I recommend to avoid pulse points if you want the scent to linger longer. I hate to waste my perfume into the air. Because many natural ingredients are so expensive and are hand made, dabbing it creates a special ritual every time you use it. You smell it not in the air but you get closer to your skin and feel the notes opening up slowly, blending with your individual scent. When you have to re-apply perfume in a public place, nobody will notice that wave of perfume which has been sprayed. Instead it will be a smooth waft of scent, natural, intrinsic only to you.
Many people compare natural perfumes with aromatherapy oils which are usually dabbed or used in roll-on bottles. But not all ingredients in botanical perfumery can in fact be used for aromatherapy but this does does mean that botanical fragrances do not hold healing properties. Dabbing perfumes is a spiritual and sensual experience. Perhaps, it is worth remembering that not only perfumes but all other skin care products can be used in a different way, not for the sake of applying them but for the sake of pure relish.