We love a good personal fragrance (the safe, non-toxic ones, obviously) and there are few people who know the nuances of creating the perfect wearable scent like Anne Nelson Sanford of LURK. Anne's oil based fragrances are stunning (in more ways than one) and she's deeply committed to changing the way people experience safe and healthy perfumes. Ahead of her visit to our Beacon Hill shop on Tuesday the 23rd, Anne let us pick her scent-savvy brain on a few important issues.
What inspired you to create an organic fragrance line?
I founded the company to create a luxury perfume line that bridged the gap between mainstream sophisticated perfumery and the natural marketplace. I wanted to create pure perfumes that established naturals as complex and beautiful and could stand on their own with other mainstream synthetic perfume brands. I also wanted to only use the cleanest, highest quality essential oils and botanical essences with no preservatives, stabilizers, fixatives or chemical additives to make the perfumes. I wanted to show people that natural perfume are the best choice and not just for health reasons. They are better because they work better when done right, they are designed better, they are made with intention, they are sophisticated, and they are modern and beautiful to use. They also affect the body and mind from all aspects in a positive way. I also really wanted to create what I couldn’t find, at the time I loved so much of what was available but still felt that something was missing for me.
Can you describe your thought process in creating a new scent?
My inspiration usually comes from one incredibly special oil and then I like to build/create a journey or structure around that essence. I am particularly attracted to many of the more rare, unique and challenging oils to blend. I love to start working with them and see how they react to, and blend with, other essences. I get really inspired by process as well, the twists and turns can be unexpected, enlightening, sometimes frustrating and always wonderful in the end.
The process of creating new scents varies and can start with either a thought or visual that is inspired by the world around me or with a single note or oil as mentioned. Once I get locked into an idea or a single note that I want to build upon it just goes from there.. I sit down and start blending. This can take quite a bit of time and blends need to age for a few weeks so the editing process can be lengthy. I also generally start writing things down about the scent and how I imagine it before I start putting dropper to oil. Sometimes things don’t turn out anywhere near what I imagined and that can be great, or not good at all.. But, in the case of something not turning out: The next day I just wake up, show up and begin again...
Your fragrances are given such unique and unconventional names. Can you let us in on what that's all about?
I use formula numbers from my development notes to name them. This way the experience isn’t altered or directed and the customer can have an experience that is entirely unique and personal. I did this because I didn’t want to “name” the scents. Scent names immediately give the user an idea in their mind about what the scent smells like. Thus, an opinion is formed and a direction is taken before the scent has been experienced. Names also can give a user an expectation as well. By removing this element of the experience the user remains curious and questioning right up until the very moment the aroma is inhaled. This way we don’t direct or manipulate the experience and we don’t influence the outcome or the opinion. We allow people to just take in the product and experience it in a completely intimate way that is uniquely their own.
Can you tell us about the differences between an oil based fragrance and an alcohol based one?
Oil based fragrances are much more highly viscous and concentrated (up to 40%) which (depending on the scent blend and the individuals skin) can give them a bit more staying power. They are also less drying to the skin and far more intimate or personal as they do not “broadcast” or project the same way many alcohol blends do. The lift is different with oils, the scent stays tight to the individual wearing them and they also have the opportunity to really develop on the skin with a bit more depth than alcohol based fragrances. Alcohol based fragrances are much more volatile so they are amplified and have an effervescence that oils do not have but that volatility can cause them to evaporate and lose their lasting power (especially on dry skin). Alcohol based perfumes come in many different concentrations as well i.e. Cologne is around 5% concentrated while Eau de Toilettes are up to 15% and Eau de Parfum’s are up to 20%. Oil based fragrances set in Jojoba also have a very long shelf life (as opposed to perfumes done in fractionated coconut for instance which is less stable and will turn much more quickly). Alcohol based scents vary with regard to shelf life as the alcohol affects the raw materials much more aggressively in many instances thus altering scent and composition over time. This month we're focusing a lot of our outreach on fragrance (good and bad).
As an insider, what do you see as some of the greatest risks that the mainstream fragrance industry poses on our health and safety?
The risks and effects are so far reaching that it’s hard to say which is greatest. The effects on reproductive health, the carcinogenic factors, the build-up of these known (and unknown) chemicals in our tissues and organs are all so extreme... The risks are deep and we are really feeling them as a society. The overall increase in the numbers of people suffering from illnesses that can be linked to these chemicals is astounding. The longer we produce and consume these chemicals (phthalates, parabens, benzene derivatives, aldehydes, etc) the more they will build up in our tissues the sicker I think we become. The health effects include reproductive issues (as mentioned), hormone disruption (which causes a plethora of health problems), liver and breast cancer, immune system issues; the list goes on.. Our physical and mental health is being affected and compromised over these “trade secret” chemicals and sadly the United States has been incredibly resistant to regulate or even acknowledge the proven safety issues with their use.
And just for fun, what is your own personal favorite scent?
I love this question but it’s a really hard one... Right now I’m really loving True Nature Botanicals Noble Woods solid perfume and a scent that we’re launching for Mothers day this year called CRG V9 that is a really interesting spicy floral.
We can't wait to hang out with Anne, and experience CRG V9 later in the spring!