Are Your Essential Oils Pure and Natural?

Are Your Essential Oils Pure and Natural?

Posted by Sonia Bellini on

Fragrance in perfume, candles, and reed diffusers all have one thing in common: essential oils. The quality of essential oils is determined by the environment in which the plants are grown. Everything from pesticide use, soil health, sun strength, wind, and harvesting technique influence the quality of a plant. Even the essential oils used in skincare must be grown in such a way as to preserve the efficacy of the extracts they use.

The world capital of perfume is Grasse, France - but it wasn't always this way. Long ago, the city was home to tanneries that caused the town to smell putrid. In an attempt to conceal this scent, tanners began soaking flowers in animal fat, which they would later use to polish their leather gloves. A pair of these scented gloves were allegedly presented to Catherine de Medici, the queen of France at the time. After that, the fashion for a perfumed pair quickly spread and the rest is history.

In fragrance, the essential oils used are very precise. For example, "Chanel No. 5 was originally created with jasmine grown in Grasse, so it must always be made that way" (Beardsley). By weigh, Grasse jasmine is worth more than gold.

So, How Did Grasse Become the World Capital of Perfume?

LUMIRA states that, "to meet demand, Grasse stopped producing leather goods and turned its attention to growing the most intoxicating floral botanicals, including rose, jasmine and lavender." Grasse itself has a micro climate which allows a wide variety of plants to grow with ease. 

Many of the brands we carry are located in either France or Australia. Regardless of what land they reside on, keeping the earth healthy for continual farming and harvesting is a must.

Having the right home scent is an integral part of creating an environment – but it should never come at the expense of the actual environment. Happily, luxury and sustainability now coexist, which is good news both now and for future generations.   


For many, many years, Yonka has known the irreplaceable value that bees have on the environment. In their pollinator rolls, they account for 75% of plant pollination in the United States alone. Facing dwindling bee populations overall, Yonka dedicatedly donates to the “Un toit pour les abeilles” (A roof for our bees) foundation. Yon-Ka’s contribution will continue to fund flower field planting and the protection of 750,000 bees in hives located in Provence.
As pioneers in the natural skincare industry, Yon-Ka Paris is consistently looking for ways to give back and preserve Mother Nature for future generations, including:
  • Sourcing plant-based active ingredients from sustainable supply chains with respect to biodiversity and people
  • Preserving biodiversity by funding planting endeavors in flower fields in southern and northern France. These are the flowers that supply healthy nectars and pollens during periods when pollinators lack food.

Your time on Earth may be limited, but the legacy you leave behind lives on forever. That is why Yonka is fighting to save the bees and ensure that those who come after us enjoy a beautiful future.

The Plant That Was a Bee

Long ago, there was an orchid that resembled a bee. Flowers have evolved to attract pollinators in a variety of ways. For example, white flowers are incredibly fragrant, whereas vivid and colorful flowers use their bright hues to attract pollinators (and therefore do not need to be as fragrant). One species of orchids decided to develop pigmentation that resembled a certain honey bee. This symbiotic relationship is just one example of the beautifully precise ways Mother Nature connects all life. Unfortunately, over time this species of bees became extinct, and the memory of the bee is only seen through the eyes of the flower. Remarkably, this specific flower is able to self-pollinate, but many plants are not so lucky. This is just one example of why bees are so important - the impact they have is so great they even changed the visuals of a flower.

Carriere Freres

Carrière Frères is not like every other brand. Here, the perfumer, the nez, disappears behind inspiration - nature - to celebrate it in its purest beauty. Each one of their creations seeks to decrypt each plant's unique characteristics. For example, the fragrance of the tomato plant in their tomato candle and reed diffuser. Most people think of the watery fruit, which is not very fragrant, but Carriere Freres is inspired by the slightly sticky, green zest of the tomato stalk and leaves to recreate a greenhouse in your home. They seek to pay every plant tribute by "showcasing its beauty without ever betraying it."

The practice of making candles dates back centuries, and Carriere Freres has used this knowledge to elevate it with a modern, sustainable solution. Their candle wax is the result of years of research, resulting in a 100% vegetable wax made from European rapeseed. Carriere Freres states, "the choice of this plant from the Brassicaceae family was no mere chance: its growth requires little water and it is suited to European soil. It is also – and this can be no mere coincidence – a melliferous plant that is highly appreciated by bees. We couldn’t have dreamed of better to seal our virtuous circle."

For several years, Carrière Frères has been trying to give back to nature for all it gives to us. Gradually, they adopted an approach which is as environmentally-friendly as possible. Today, Carriere Freres obtains supplies from France and Western Europe whenever possible, and produces all of our products in Normandy, France.

Living Heritage Company

The Living Heritage Company label is provided by the French Government after rigorous investigation. The “Living Heritage Company” (EPV) label distinguishes manufacturing and know-how excellence. Carrière Frères has joined these prestigious ranks, with other famous names such as Chaumet, Hermès, crystal maker Saint Louis or the Bristol Hotel of Paris.


LUMIRA firmly believes that true luxury comes from treating both ourselves and our planet with the utmost respect. In keeping with this ethos, they are guided by sustainable production and human rights ethics. 

All of LUMIRA's candles use only natural soy wax, which has a cleaner burn and less smoke compared with many other wax types - and less strain on bees. The perfume oils that give each candle its unique scent are ethically and sustainably sourced.

LUMIRA candles are crafted using a blend of coconut and non-GMO soy wax. Over the past 10 years of product development, they have found this gives a beautiful and long-lasting burn while also being eco-friendly and cruelty-free. One of our favorites for spring is their Balinese Ylang-Ylang, which features holden ylang-ylang that softly scents the room with a floral sandalwood aroma.

Oud is a popular fragrance note in both candles and roll-on perfumes. LUMIRA states that, "Oud has become increasingly prized globally, to the extent that kilo for kilo, it’s now more costly than gold. Sadly, this has given rise to agarwood poaching and other unscrupulous harvesting practices that have led to the aquilaria tree becoming dangerously close to extinction in the wild."

For this reason, LUMIRA specifically only uses oud essential oil that’s sustainably sourced from plantation aquilaria. In addition to helping the sustainability of these trees, it also ensures that the farmers and other workers at each step of their supply chain are fairly compensated by LUMIRA's suppliers.

The Butterfly Mark Award

LUMIRA has been awarded the Butterfly Mark by renowned UK-based sustainability authority Positive Luxury. This important milestone recognises luxury brands that put sustainability at the core of their business and that are transparent in their approach to social and environmental innovation. In awarding the Butterfly Mark, Positive Luxury commends LUMIRA's responsible sourcing practices, commitment to recycling and ongoing collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Van Dang Fragrances

Bees are incredible little beings. For centuries, people have gathered beeswax to use for candles, soaps, and a myriad of other products. All of this focus on beeswax can lead to an over harvesting of beeswax. That is one of the reasons why Van Dang Fragrances has chosen not to use beeswax for their candles, and instead opted for a vegan, plant-based wax. One of our favorite candles from them is their Solaire candle, which smells like the air blowing through a ripe orange orchard, and feels like the warm sun on your skin.

In addition to using a sustainable candle medium, Van Dang Fragrances has also helped revolutionize the essential oil landscape. Their team works with farmers on every step of the process, including cultivation methods, harvesting practices, breakthrough extraction processes, and oil refinement techniques. 

The brand sources the best quality, completely natural fragrance oils directly from farmers around the world - without any middlemen. This allows for every step to be traceable, and in return everything is fair trade. What an amazing fete for the industry! This is the reason they list their essential oils as farm-to-fragrance oils. Here is a rundown of a few of the locations that each plant is hand-harvested from:
  • Ylang Ylang from Madagascar
  • Orange Blossom from Morocco
  • Petitgrain and Rosemary from Tunisia
  • Jasmine and Sandalwood from India
  • Marigold from Egypt
  • Rose from Turkey
  • Lavandin from France
  • Tonka and Patchouli from Brazil

Van Dang Fragrances believes that, in addition to addressing environmental responsibility and sustainable agriculture, it is also important to develop close, long-term relationships with farming communities to ensure safe working conditions, human rights, and ways to improve the quality of life to make farmers more stable, resilient and prosperous.


For Noshinku, safety and effectiveness is their highest priority. They don’t settle for cheap ingredients, synthetic chemicals, or irritating alcohol. Noshinku believes living well is doing right by both our bodies and our environment, so they only used 100% natural, clean essential oil blends from botanicals harvested at the source. Each ingredient is chosen specifically selected for their efficacy, safety and sustainability.

The essential oils they use are natural high-end botanical extracts typically found in high end skincare. They do not use synthetic fragrance, industrial chemicals, or any ingredient you can't pronounce (although Jojoba oil is a little difficult to say).

Not only are the fragrance oils of high quality, but the alcohol used to sanitize helps prevent hands from getting dried out. Made from organic sugarcane, the 70% alcohol base effectively and gently cleans hands without harmful chemicals or impurities. Plus, since the alcohol is made from sugarcane, there is no harsh order to cover up. This alcohol is also considered USP 'Pharma Grade,' meaning that it has been distilled to eliminate impurities that irritate the skin and cause heavy odors.


From the Australian Outback to your bathroom cabinet, Jurlique has been leading a natural beauty revolution for over 30 years. Since 1985, they have been beekeeping to support pollination and promote biodiversity on their farm. One of their most wonderful methods of sustainability is their Bio-Intrinsic method, which creates natural beauty products made with the utmost care and respect for the planet and its people. This Bio-Intrinsic Method is dedicated to protecting both the planet and its people in a way that honors the natural environment.

They believe that rich, nourished soil is just one step to creating high-performing, pure and natural skincare. Much like how rose petals contain their scent best before the sun hits them, the way natural ingredients are cared for in the land will affect their efficacy in the end product. Located in the pristine Adelaide Hills of Australia, Jurlique's farm is meticulously laid out to support the health and vitality of the land. One example of this is through planting hardy yarrow flowers next to their roses, which help nourish and protect the roses naturally.
"We believe that beauty can be a force for good, and we will continue to strive for sustainability in everything we do." -Jurlique

From the first seed planted on the Jurlique Farm, they have remained connected to their sustainable roots, dedicating years to mastering sustainable farming principles and caring for the farm as an integrated, living organism.

By growing plants and herbs biodynamically (without harmful pesticides and herbicides), Jurlique is able to nurture the land while magnifying the pure and powerful ingredients that form the foundation of their products.


Jurlique's Bio-Intrinsic™ Method

Thanks to their unique blend of nature and biodynamic farming, Jurlique is able to use their plants when at their most potent and powerful. After harvesting, Jurlique's farm‐grown botanicals are transported to the drying shed to undergo our unique Bio-Intrinsic extraction method. This three-step process extracts and recombines high‐performing ingredients from dried botanicals to further intensify their skin benefits.

1. Purification. Steam gently lifts and releases the delicate essential oils, nutrients and liquids from their dried botanicals, transforming them into a vapour that is then returned to liquid form, ready for the next stage.

2. Intensification. Jurlique percolates the purified botanicals and the distilled liquid to extract more vital nutrients. This step can often take several days.

3. Ashing. Finally, Jurlique burns their ingredients down to a precious ash to capture their natural minerals and salts. 

One concern for the world of fragrance, and everything adjacent to it, is the increasingly unstable climate around the world. In Grasse, France, farmers reported keeping candles in between flower bushes to combat the late spurts of hail and cold fronts. Reportedly, a year like that might happen every 50 or 100 years, but it had happened for two years in a row as of 2021. In Portland, Oregon, we had at least five hail showers in the month of April alone. While it's true that April showers bring May flowers, we think that's a bit concerning. Climate change is causing droughts, high temperatures, and extended periods of cold, all of which affect the quality and quantity of flowers harvested. Join us in supporting these brands that go the extra mile for the environment.  

This list is not exhaustive of the brands that have sustainability at the forefront of their ethos. Check out our other blogs for information on our other brands we carry.

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