Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Woman's Secrets

Call me old-fashioned (okay, I know you already do) but I think a woman goes from being attractive to deadly with the help of a few simple tools. So boys - just skip this one (okay, I know you won't, but pretend).

I'm not the kind of woman who does my hair. I'm sitting in a cafe right now in clothing I reserve for house work. I didn't know there would be an attractive man playing a guitar. But I do at least have some defenses. And here's a short list.

Most of my feminine secrets have to do with smell. I hate commercial perfumes. I think they smell cheap (even the expensive ones) and make a woman smell like an identifiable product rather than a sensual secret. A woman's scent, in my humble opinion, ought to be elusive and specific. Being part of a short and recognizable list of scents is irritating - especially when you walk by someone wearing your perfume and suddenly realize that in a dark room, you and the woman you just walked past could fool your lover.

My scent is very simple - it is a mix of just two essential oils. No, I will not tell you what it is. I chose it carefully - I wanted to smell vaguely of a comfortable and joyful kitchen and of warmth and femininity. It is a little less than sensual, but it's mine, and I like it. I'll probably add a sensual scent soon, but seeing as Patchouli is absolutely not an acceptable scent to wear unless you want to smell like Woodstock (thank you, 1970's), and I don't much like Ylang Ylang, I'll have to wait to find a better essential oil to throw into the mix.

My soap, my shampoo, and my body oil are all infused with the same scent. I drop a single drop of the pure essential oil mix behind my ears and on my wrists before going out (more than one or two drops is always too much!). My hand salve, however, has a different smell, with only a trace note of one of the oils, because it seems to me that hands, which work, should not smell overly manicured - it just doesn't fit that I am a woman whose hands work.

Body Oil
Body oil is a simple alternative to commercial creams that you slather on after a shower. Oil is super-moisturizing, and if your skin isn't too oily, it will go a long way in softening your skin and making it more radiant. It is a simple blend of one or many oils with some essnetial oils (optional) for scent.

If your skin borders on oily use almond or sesame (not the roasted kind!) oil as a base. These are light oils. I use a blend of St John's Wart infused olive oil (calendula infused oil is also great - find insturctions on infusing oils in this post) in an almond and canola (it's cheap) oil base with a bit of jojoba oil. I keep this in a squeeze bottle in my bathroom. It makes my shower experience much more decadent. You can also use coconut oil, which is convenient because it's solid at room temperature, but melts onto skin. If your skin is really dry, Shea butter is a great oil to use.

Whatever you do, do not use too much cocoa butter, or you will smell like a stripper.

I'd suggest spending some time with your collection of essential oils before choosing a blend for yourself. My collection is really very small - 6 or so oils, only 3 of which I use exclusively for scenting things, the rest I use for household and other purposes - for more info see this entry). Figure out which oils you gravitate towards for scenting things like baths and footbaths. Figure out what kind of base notes you like, and higher notes when it comes to your own smell. Do you like flowery scents or earthy ones? Combinations or simple, single scents? Start experimenting with a few drops. When you've settled on a scent, mix a small batch and use it for a week.

Once you're sure you love this scent and it's yours, mix it into your body oil, your homemade shampoo, (in Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Every Body - I can't justify handing out so many of her recipes for free, so go and buy the book! It's well worth it) and make a small batch (keep it tightly sealed!) for use as perfume.

Solid Perfume
if you have a small glass jar (1/2 oz would be ideal) that seals tightly you could make a solid perfume. Make a simple salve by mixing two parts olive oil to one part pure beeswax. Put the oil in a double boiler (a small pyrex measuring cup works well and is an easy way to measure beeswax into oil to get the right ratio) with slivers of beeswax. Once the beeswax is melted entirely into the oil, stir with a chopstick or pencil, and pour into the container. add your essential oil mix until it is as strong as you want (30-50 drops, approximately), stir, and cap tightly to keep the essential oils fresh. Reserve the remainder of the unscented salves for other batches or other salves. Tthis makes a very thick salve, which is necessary since you'll be adding so much essential oils. to make a thinner salve, simply add an additional part of oil. You can melt and reconstitute the salve as much as you need without hurting it.

Enjoy smelling like a wonderful, unique version of yourself.


  1. hello anya--i've been lurking and find this blog wonderfully inspirational. once i saw the cocoa butter/stripper line i knew i had to say hello because thanks to a certain story told at a certain diner, the two are forever linked in my mind. i'd love to catch up, but i'm in madrid until july so emailing/skype's the best please keep up this blog!

  2. hah -

    obviously that comment referred to that conversation at that diner once upon a time. I figured if it would always remind all of us of strippers, the same can be said for many, many other people. Enjoy Spain! Let me know how it's going via email or fbook. In the mean time, I'll keep blogging.