By Mary, CN Body Care Buyer & The Naturalist Contributor
I remember when I discovered what I thought was my signature scent, and I remember clearly when I realized the effect it was truly having on me, which was what can only be described as “sensory assault.” The headaches, the skin irritation, all signs pointed to the designer perfume I insisted on spritzing myself with. Jennifer Botto, founder of the Somerville based perfume company Thorn + Bloom understands this experience all too well.
I first met Jennifer last summer at the annual Herbstalk event. The packaging and display of her products quickly reined me in and she gladly humored my eagerness to learn everything about her line. She patiently handed me sample card after sample card, walking me through the depth of each scent. There was finally a high quality non-toxic perfume on the market and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops of the Armory.
The “fragrance” that makes up synthetic perfumes is actually a combinations of hundreds of synthetic chemicals and are loaded with pthalates, known hormone disruptors. According to a 1991 EPA Analysis, 95% of those chemicals are derived from petrochemicals and are known to cause birth defects, cancer, asthma, and allergies. An alarming statistic we are privileged to be aware of. We at Cambridge Naturals are just as careful of what we put on our bodies as we are of what we put in them, and we want the same safety standard for you.
All scents in the growing Thorn + Bloom line are available for sale at Cambridge Naturals. I interviewed her this month to get the full scoop on how she got started in nontoxic perfumery and below she shares some tips from her own beauty uniform.
Scent is powerful in the sense that it can instantly flood you with specific memories and transport you to another time and place. As a perfumer, is there any scent or combination of scents that has that effect on you? Where does it take you?
My most nostalgic blend, Stranger in the Cherry Grove, reminds me of my father's cherry pipe tobacco. It is smoky, woody, leathery with the slightest hint of charred cherry wood and fruit. In a perfume, it's an unexpected and surprising combination (burnt cherries?) but it makes sense when you know the context behind it's creation. For me, it is one of my most favorite scents and memories.
You grew up on a farm in New York but now live in the city of Boston. Has the change of scents in the environment you work and live in had any effect on what you do?
Natural Perfumery has helped me reconnect to nature in the midst of a frenetic urban environment. Living in a city often robs people of natural aromas such as freshly cut grass, blooming flowers, tree bark, moss, animal manure, silage, wood fire, etc and replaces them with synthetic aromas such as exhaust, gasoline, industrial materials, car air fresheners and synthetic perfumes. The sense of smell is often underrated and neglected, especially in a city such as Boston.
What initially drew you to natural perfumery?
I've always been very allergic to synthetic perfumes and could never find a natural perfume that met my expectations in terms of longevity, complexity and sophistication. I decided to experiment with a handful of essential oils and my passion grew into a collection of hundreds of rare natural essences. Perfuming quickly became an obsession when I realized that botanical scents can rival the very best synthetic fragrances.
Do you have a signature scent or do you change it up everyday?
I tend to wear perfume seasonally and developed the line with this in mind. I love wearing Bird of Paradise in the summer, as it evokes a luscious tropical paradise with night blooming Jasmine, lemon and ginger. During the colder months I choose Orange Blossom, as the cardamom, honey and cedarwood exude a sensual warmth.
What does your daily skincare routine from day to night look like?
Of course, Coconut Oil is a mainstay for full body and face hydration. I've recently discovered topical Magnesium oil which has been a godsend. I find it helps with lymphatic drainage and exfoliation, giving my skin a firmer texture and more rosy appearance. It also helps with aches and pains just as an epsom salt bath would. I love the idea that I can spray the Magnesium on my skin as a kind of mobile bath therapy.
Do you wear makeup?
When I wear makeup I tend to do a natural, minimalist face with Jane Iredale products. My favorite look is a neutral lip with bright rosy cheeks and a lot of lash. I recently discovered a fantastic new product called One Two Lash which relies on magnetic technology to attach false lashes effortlessly. I'm constantly on the go so the ability to apply lashes in a snap with no messy glue or expensive extensions has really upped my beauty game!
What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?
The older I get, the more I try to look for ways to let my inner beauty shine through. This has meant clean eating and clean living, cutting down on synthetic chemical exposure and processed foods. I also rely heavily on drinking lots of water and getting a minimum of 7 full hours of sleep every night.
When do you feel most yourself?
I love spending time in rural settings, away from the maddening crowd. I tend to become overstimulated by all the sounds and movement of the city and so it's very refreshing to return to the countryside for reflection and slow living. It's also wonderful to be able to stargaze when the light pollution isn't so heavy!
Do you have a favorite scent in your collection or one that is particularly special to you?
My favorite is Evergreen. I grew up in norther NY surrounded by beautifully fragrant forests of pine, spruce and fir trees. My family makes maple syrup so the combination of sweet boiling sap and cool fresh evergreen needles always brings back fond memories of childhood.
Thank you so much, Jennifer! Visit us in store to try Thorn + Bloom. To learn more about Jennifer and the line of perfumes you can follow them on instagram @thornandbloom for updates!