Sunday, December 09, 2012

Choosing To Expand the Possibilities for Mama Love

When I first started my Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy business I had multiple food allergies— soy, corn, dairy and the very hardest one to deal with of all, wheat.  It took a long time to get over but I made healing my highest priority and eventually rid myself of my sensitivities one by one. Mama Love was developed at a time in my life when awareness of sensitivity issues weighed heavy on my mind. As a result I made my products to the very strictest aromatherapy standards aiming to make sure it was safe for most people most of the time. Pregnant women in their first trimester and people with extreme sensitivities probably shouldn't use essential oils at all but my products were designed to be safe for just about everyone else.

Still, even back then, I intended that Mama Love products be more than just healing. I also wanted them to smell good so I used aromatherapy principles in conjunction with ideas I picked up from the artisan perfume community. I dowsed for a list of ingredients for each healing purpose I proposed and when there was more than one appropriate combination, keeping in mind a few basics like the use of top, middle and base notes, I'd choose based on what most pleased my nose. Unfortunately, that's where the comparison to perfume ended because most commercial perfume isn't concerned with healing principles. They use strong concentrations of plant materials (if they use natural ingredients at all) combined with a large variety of chemical scents, emulsifiers, extenders and alcohol. When most people complain of being allergic to "perfume" what they're really reacting to is being doused in a synthetic chemical soup.

I liked my perfume-like formulas at aromatherapy strength. In fact I still do and sometimes even layer on more than one at a time, knowing I can safely get away with it. But the general public doesn't think like that. They're used to intensely scented perfume and when I receive any less than glowing feedback it's always that it doesn't smell strong enough—it's not about healing first for them!

Fast forward several years. I'm no longer constantly battling sensitivities, we've all been through a devastating worldwide financial crash, and to be honest I'm kind of sick of most of my attention being sucked into what's been wrong and how to fix it. Like a lot of people I've been wanting a little more sensual pleasure and luxury in my life. And suddenly I find that I want my formulas to smell stronger, too.

I'm currently in the process of creating a version of my most perfume-like products in eau de parfum strength or stronger and have been considering whether to make an alcohol based version like most perfumers do. I also needed to find an organic natural preservative to increase the shelf life of the sprays I already make. But my health-oriented attitude rejected alcohol. After all, the latest trend in natural perfume is to avoid it. It's even a marketing point: "alcohol-free!" Nobody says why that's a benefit except for the occasional comment that it can be drying to the skin but I do know people who think they have to avoid even traces of alcohol because of allergies or alcoholism.

I struggled with this for long time and spent hours trying to find an alternative. But finally I realized that I was attempting to cater to an extremely tiny segment of the population and to a fear-based perfectionistic inner demon that wants to placate the most finicky point of view. Vodka is a great preservative, it has very little smell and organic versions can even be found. I called a local liquor store and they had it. But, you know, sometimes you decide to change a long time point of view and the universe decides to play a joke on you. Are you sure you're okay with using ALCOHOL? Is it "safe," is it PC, what will the hypersensitive neighbors think? I plowed ahead and the liquor store owner handed me the only bottle of organic vodka he had left in the store... It was made of WHEAT. Wheat, the substance that used to give me heart palpitations, severe hypoglycemic symptoms, and multiple allergic symptoms that frightened me enough to send me to the doctor and took a really long time to eradicate. It stopped me in my tracks. I can eat wheat now but I still think of it as a potential poison. But it isn't. I took a breath and took it home. I choose to go forward and open the door to new possibilities.

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