Into the Woods
Woody Notes 101
Where does your mind go when you smell pencil shavings?
When you enter the teak galley of a boat?
When you smell a bonfire?
For many of us, woody scents are intricately connected to our earliest memories—of classrooms, campfires, time spent outdoors. They may even tap into primal emotions, drawing from an olfactory reservoir that predates indoor heating, mechanical pencils and gas grills.
Woody notes, as the name suggests, are derived from trees, such as cedar and sandalwood, as well as aromas that come from leafs, like patchouli. They can be subtle, robust and anywhere in between. Just think about how certain wood chips influence the flavors of grilled meat.
According to Victoria Frolova, who writes very thoughtfully about fragrance in her Bois de Jasmin blog: “In perfumery, ‘precious woods’ is a composite term for many aromatic woods besides sandalwood: the raw, silky dryness of cedarwood, the burnt roses of guaïacwood, the liquorice bitterness of vetiver, and the petal freshness of rosewood. Given their kaleidoscopic complexity and impressive tenacity (as attested by the 200-year-old fragrance that still fills the halls of Mughal palaces), woods have become indispensable in modern perfumery.”
Like a signal to come in before the snow flies, woody notes are the perfect seasonal fragrance for embracing autumn..
Indeed they have. As Thymes perfumer Stacy Brown explains it, woody scents form the lingering base notes of most fragrances. Because of their lower volatility, they fix and retain aroma of all types, including more ephemeral floral and green notes. “They don’t evaporate as quickly, so they stay on your skin longer,” she says.
Brown characterizes the woody aromatic family as “a little more straightforward; they’re more rich, less volatile.” Adjectives used to describe woody aromas include dry, pungent, earthy, musky—even creamy.
Patchouli, which is an honorary member of the woody family, “has a greenness to it, but this earthy, dry wood tone,” Brown says. “The richness and voluptuousness of the earth tones make it woody.”
Like a signal to come in before the snow flies, woody notes are the perfect seasonal fragrance for embracing autumn. If summer is all about fresh green and floral fragrances, fall signals outdoor rituals, like raking the yard, and a return to interior spaces in which cozy, warm, fresh and piney scents welcome us home.
At Thymes, we’ve long recognized the haunting beauty of woody fragrances. Our Wildwood home fragrance collection draws deeply from the woods family, especially Bitter Orange & Cedar and Blue Spruce & Elderberry.
And because of the low-key, attention-demurring nature of woods, other fragrances shine in their presence. “In Bitter Orange & Cedar, there’s a lot of cedar in there and spices—cinnamon, nutmeg and clove—that go so well together,” Brown says. “It pops more, comes right out at you.”
In Thymes bath and body collections, Lotus Santal is our woodiest fragrance, emphasizing the warm, peaceful qualities of plum wood, patchouli and soothing sandalwood.
Ready for the warmth of woods in your life? Who woodn’t be? Check out Wildwood and Lotus Santal today.
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