How did you choose the notes?
Vetiver was always going to be the first note in the blend because it’s my favourite essential oil. I first heard of it because a man I used to know wore a vetiver cologne. We had such an interesting relationship and he was someone who opened my eyes to the world, so I’ve had a special association with vetiver since then.
I worked out the rest in the lab with our development team. So I had vetiver, and I also wanted something Canadian and because I was aiming for an earthy, woody blend, we tried Canadian black spruce. It immediately brought up good memories of growing up in Canada, walking through the forests as a little kid, so as soon as I tried it out in the lab I wanted to incorporate it. Cedarwood followed after that because I wanted another woody note and it worked well because it really helped to consolidate the grounding element.
Then at that point I thought it was almost too low or grounded and it needed something else to lift it. I knew that I didn’t want that extra element to be overly floral or powdery and I especially didn’t want any lavender involved! So we tried a few citruses but when we reached bergamot I had a gut instinct about it and once we added it to the woody blend we already had—that was it, it had to be bergamot. And that’s why our blend is called sun through trees, because there’s a good proportion of earthy, woody notes, but there’s a warmth and brightness that follows from the citrus of the bergamot, which we imagined like the sun poking through a canopy of trees!
How did you know that you’d found the final final blend?
Well, even once we knew what the main notes would be, it took quite a while to perfect the signature blend in terms of the ratios of each note. I remember testing the different arrangements and it was like when you read a word over and over again to the point where it doesn’t feel like a word any more—it was hard to compare the various blends.
But once we’d got it to a point where I was happy with it, I started asking people who are close to me—the kinds of friends who I knew would tell me the truth!—to tell me what they thought. I didn’t want to show it to many people, though, because I didn’t want to be swayed too much, but my friends liked it and it was fascinating to hear the associations they had with the different notes.
My friend Rebecca [Munroe, who is Visual Director of MIRROR WATER] said it smelled like me, like my flat and that surprised me because that hadn’t been my intention, but I thought that was a really interesting observation and it helped me to realise that we’d got it right.
Do all of the products have the same scent?
They all have the same notes but they’re in different proportions within each product depending on the base formulation. Putting that blend into our product range was a whole other story. We had our signature blend (how amazing would it be to have a perfume of that?!) but it smells different depending on whether you put it into salts (for SOAK), oil (for SMOOTH) or shea butter (for RUB). So we adjusted things for each product in the range to smell more similar to each other, but we liked that they also do have their own qualities within that. So RUB for example, our solid balm, is formulated with a lot of shea butter and that adds nutty, almost creamy notes and we didn’t want to eliminate that because it came out really comforting, whereas SOAK our bath salts have an extra fresh, salty (obviously) quality that I thought was refreshing and a good combination with our blend.
SOAK BUFF SMOOTH RUB
Our hero products, your go-to routine: introducing The Quintessentials, consisting of our bath salts, body scrub, body oil and solid balm.
If you had to describe sun through trees using just one word, what would it be?
Reassuring. I know it sounds a little odd that a scent can be reassuring, but I think anyone who has smelled it will know what I mean. It’s grounding because of the vetiver, the black spruce and the cedar, but it’s uplifting as well because of the bergamot. And I think that’s a great mix because it’s soothing and relaxing but it also perks me up and makes me feel ready to face the day.