Sustainability Index

MIZU SUSTAINABILITY INDEX

 
What does “Nargamotha” smell like?
How is it used in perfume?  Is it sustainable?

 

MIZU is committed to sourcing sustainable and ethically-harvested materials from our partners around the world. Below we’ve outlined some of our favorite aromatics —  how we use them in perfumes — and how they’re harvested. We’ve also indicated their IUCN Threat Level, where applicable. 

 

About the IUCN: 

Established in 1964, the IUCN is the worlds leading organization that monitors the heath of global life;  including animals, fungi and our beloved plant friends.  Though their network of experts, their work asses the extinction risk of much of the worlds wildlife, giving it a status on the spectrum “of Least Concern” to “ Extinct”.  This data has been compiled to create the “ IUCN Red List”,  the worlds most comprehensive resource of endangered and extinct spices.

Please note — While their research is vast, it does not cover the billions of species on the planet — some of our materials have yet to be fully researched, and some are in the process of be “re-assessed” after decades of regrowth.  

 

Each of the following materials have been given an IUCN rating, when available. 

For more information, please visit https://www.iucnredlist.org

 

 

Materials: 

 

Fossilized Amber Resin

Leather / Animalic  / Mineral 

A hauntingly beautiful, rare aroma that comes from the petrified resins of 35 million year-old trees in the Himalayan Mountains. These familiar orange resin chunks are dry-distilled over open heat to create an aroma unlike anything else in the botanical world — dry ancient leathers, smokey, deep, with a unique mineral note that works beautifully when blended with select florals. Vegan. 

A key note in MONARCH perfume

 

IUCN Level: No data collected ( natural plant by-product ) 

 

 

Amyris

Sweet / Soft / Dry / woods

( Sustainable Sandalwood Alternative ) 

Coming from a small, tropical evergreen tree native to Haiti and Central America. Amyris is the epitome of “ soft woods”, with a slightly spicy top note and a long, sweet-woody dry down. 

Often referred to “West Indian Sandalwood”, for it’s similar soft-woody aroma.  We love using Amyris in our perfumes as part of a sustainable -sandalwood alternative.  

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

Ambrette Seed

Sweet / Nutty / Musk 

 

A true marvel of a material; The aroma of Ambrette comes from the small snail-shell shaped seeds of a particular hibiscus plant ( Hibiscus abelmoschus ) , native to the tropics. 

When crushed and distilled, the seeds release an extraordinarily unique aroma, like a mixture of fatty peanuts and the sweetest musk you’ve ever known. In perfume, Ambrette is often used to “lift” a perfume from the bottom up, giving a sparkle of life to an otherwise flat or heavy aroma. Considered by many to be an aphrodisiac . 

 

IUCN Level: No Data Collected

Plants are widely grown throughout the tropics. 

 

 

Balsam Fir Absolute

Jam-like / Sweet / Balsamic Woods / Heavy

Harvested from the needles of wild Canadian Fir Trees, Balsam Absolute’s aroma is truly like forest bathing in the northern woods - a green, fresh, clean fragrance with bellowing sweet, jammy, sap-like overtones and nuances of wood and soil. An aroma the embodies a hike though mountain forests. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

Beeswax Absolute

Warm / Sweet / Earthy / Slightly musky 

We source our Beeswax Absolute from Grasse, France, where  the locally grown honeycomb is extracted into this luxuriously golden-rich material. Aroma notes of sweet wildflower pollen and  warm, powdery vanilla, married with a slightly earthy - musk undertone. One of our favorites. Used in MONARCH.

 

IUCN Level: No Data Collected ( species by-product )

 

 

Black Pepper

Dry / Spicy / Warm 

Much like the cherished culinary spice, Black Pepper is used frequently in perfumes.  In very small doses, to give a certain “sparkling” effect to a fragrance, piquing the interest in the first few moments.  Our black pepper essential oil is ethically harvested in Madagascar by a community-led farm. Used lightly in much of our work, including Monarch and Moonflower

Origin: Madagascar / USDA organic 

 

IUCN Level: Data Deficient

 

 

Bergamot

Juicy / Green /  Tart citrus / Woody

Some say a perfume is not complete without a little Bergamot. We use an Italian harvested Bergamot with a refreshing tart, tangy green citrus note that fades into a lasting woody-floral nuance. Used in both MOONFLOWER and TEMPLE, along with many of our candles. 

Origin: Italy / USDA organic 

  

IUCN Level: Data Deficient 

 

 

Black Currant Absolute ( Cassis ) 

Animalic ( primal ) / Inky / Green / Juicy Berry

If you know Black Currant, you definitely have an opinion on it. Some say it smells like delicious, juicy ripe berries, some say it’s a match for cat urine. Whatever your perception, this material has been used for centuries in perfume for it’s unique fruity, green, wine-like, and deep aroma. Ours is harvested in France from the flowers of the Ribes nigrum L. bush. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

  

 

Butter CO2

Creamy / Fatty / Salted / Classically “butter” 

 

Yes, you read that right — Butter. This strange, yet cherished little oddball does wonders in certain types of fragrances to add a level of creamy-sweetness and a smooth, silky texture. Particularly helpful when paired with Florals and other Food-like aromas ( Cocoa, Herbs, Spices, etc. ). While none of our work here at MIZU features Butter C02, we do love it and keep a stock in our lab to play with. Derived from ( you guessed it ) Butter. Imported from Belgium. 

 

IUCN Level: No Data Collected ( species by-product )

  

 

Jasmine Sambac Absolute 

Sweet / Green leaf / Fruity / Powerful 

Our preferred Jasmine —  Jasmine Sambac ( aka night-blooming variety ) has a unique leafy-green, note married in the intensely sweet, fruity, honeyed floral essence of pure Jasmine,  with a slightly musky, tea-like undertone.  A bit less “sweet” than the Grandiflorum variety . We source our J.Sambac  from a farm in India , where the flowers are handpicked picked in the early hours of the morning, when their scent is strongest, to capture the most of their fragrance. A key note in our MOONFLOWER Perfumes

 

IUCN Level: No Data Collected

 

 

 

Jojoba Oil 

Carrier Oil -  ( unscented )

 

This seemingly magic “oil“ , is actually a wax- and this is exactly why we love Jojoba so much. Looking into the chemistry of Jojoba will revel that it so closely resembles the human Sebum; which means it is easily absorbed and harmonizes with your skin and hair, delivering a dose of vital minerals and nutrients ( Particularly high in the cell-protector Vitamin E ).

Our Jojoba is Organic and Raw, and is the base carrier oil for all of our Perfume Oils and Perfumed Hair Oils. 

 

IUCN Level: No Data Collected

  

 

Cistus ( Rock Rose ) 

Balsamic / Sweet / Boozy /  Leather

 

Is there a rose ever as sweet as Rock Rose? Probably, yes. This ancient perfume materials actually gives us two materials; Cistus and Labdanum. A creeping shrub that is notoriously adept at thriving in barren soils. For centuries, this oil has been used in Europe and Asia for wound healing - both externally and spiritually. 

 

Our certified organic Cistus is harvested in Spain, and distilled from the leaves of Mediterranean shrub. 

 

IUCN Level: No Data Collected

Though un-evaluated by IUCN, Cistus landinfer is widely considered an invasive species.

 

  

Carrot seed

Musky / Damp Earth / Slightly-fatty / Wood

 

You might be more familiar with this plants folk name, Queen Anne’s lace;  however Carrot Seed is an invaluable material for the natural perfumer. When used ever so lightly, this oil is used to give an earthy, botanical “ musk “ to a fragrance. Before the last century , “musks” were only harvested from the glands of animals.  Our Carrot Seed is organically grown and harvested, and is featured  proudly in our Wild Vetiver perfumes. 

Origin: India / USDA organic 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

  

Cedar ( Various, see below ) 

In the world of perfume, various species of Cedars are harvested from around the world, each having their own distinctive aroma. This is thanks to centuries of evolution in diverse habitats, causing each subspecies to develop unique ways to thrive  — and in the process, they create distinctive smells, unique to each tree. 

 

 

Himalayan Cedar  

Warm /  Sweet-Syrup /  Woody, Vanilla

 

Almost boozy-liqeuer esque upon first sniff, this cedar wood is extremely sweet, round, deep and provides an excellent “body” to the base of many of our fragrances. We’ve sourced ours from numerous farms over the years, but our go-to source is Wild-Harvested from the Himalayan Mountains of Northern India. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

Atlas Cedar

Sweet / Woody / Warm / Dry 

More dry-woody than Himalayan Cedar 

 

Sustainable Wild-Harvest 

Coming from the Atlas regions of Morocco, the cedar distillation is known as the “gold standard” in fragrance; with its more dry, sweet and typically woody, aroma with almost rosy like notes. 

For centuries, these trees have been used both in cosmetics and construction. Its wild popularity and unregulated harvesting has caused a steep decline in its native populations.  Thankfully, we’ve found a supplier who sources only the leftover sawdust and wood shavings from the Moroccan timber industry to distill our Atlas Cedar Oils — and further; they sponsor a reforestation program to plant new cedar trees each year. 

While we do enjoy our sustainable Atlas Cedar, we understand that even a sustainable-harvest has it’s own issues, and prefer to use alternative cedars. 

 

IUCN Level: Endangered,  ( Last assessed 2013 )

 

 


Texas Cedar

Dry / Spicy / Woody / Pencil-Like / “Cedar Chest”

Wild-Harvest

Despite the name, this is actually a species of Juniper ( Juniperus ashei ), native to southwestern North America. It’s dry- woody, somewhat spicy aromas evokes a nostalgic feeling of old cedar chests and fresh sharpened pencils. A very comforting woody-aroma without being too sweet. If we had to only choose only one “cedar”, this would be it. 

 

Juniperus ashei is considered an invasive species and has been growing rapidly since the last Ice Age. It’s timber is unsuitable for construction materials, so these trees are often cleared and discarded during construction projects.

Our supplier sources only the discarded stumps and branches of land-clearing projects to distill out Texas Cedar essential oils. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

Clary Sage

Sweet / Herbal / Wine-like / Musky 

 

A cousin of the common garden Sage, this tall flowering herb gives us a refined, fruity-herbal aroma with undertone of sweet hay, musk and a surprising hint of elusive ambergris-like notes. 

There is some debate on how this flowering herb received it’s insightful name; In the middle ages, Clary Sage ( Clary, meaning  “To See“ ) was used as a preparation to help remove dust particles from eyes, while in Ayuveredic medicine, Clary Sage was used as an aid to help awaken one’s third eye through meditation.   

Today, Clary Sage is often used as a meditative aid, known to promote a sense of calm and relaxation — perhaps that’s why we love it so much. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

 

Hinoki

Clean / Woody / Citrus / Pine

A variety of Japanese Cypress that has been held sacred by for centuries. It’s woods have been traditionally used in the construction of Shinto temples and traditional Onsen ( Bath houses ), beloved for it’s unique and refreshing aroma of soft, clean woods and a nuance of lemon peel. 

Through the centuries, the popularity of Hinoki has resulted in over harvesting, so we use this oil with great care. Our Hinoki is sustainable-grown and harvested from a Japanese timber plantation; And taking it one step further -  Only the leftover branches and sawdust from the construction industry are used to distill our crisp, clean essential oil. 

 

IUCN Level: Near Threatened ** 

**This is in reference to old-growth Hinoki forests. Wild-harvested Hinoki should not be used. 

We source ours from a sustainable, government-mandated plantation and only use leftover branches; a byproduct of the Japanese timber industry. 

 

 

 

Lavender ( Wild ) 

Sweet / Floral / Herbal / Camphorous

 

Where would the world of Aromatherapy be without Lavender? With dozens of different variates, all holding a different scent, it can be easy to discount this flower as one that is “too common”, however much of the lavender we all know is actually a hybridized version known as “Lavidin” that was bred for it’s high potency of smell.

 True lavender can range from more soft-powder floral, to a sweet, almost syrup-like sweetness, with herbal-green underpinnings. The differences in scent depend on where the lavender was grown; and since this plant thrives in many areas of the world, there are countless varieties to explore. 

Our favorite is a Wild-Harvested Lavender, grown in the South of France, where the fields are free of pesticide use and the plants themselves flourish in harsh conditions; ( giving them a remarkably strong genetic makeup,  or a “ High Energy Plant “ ). Aroma-wise, this type of lavender has a  uniquely soft, fresh note, with a  very smooth floral heart — it’s the closest thing I’ve found to smelling the real flower itself. 

  

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

  

Lotus

Warm / Deeply Rich / Earthy / Heady-Floral 

The aroma of lotus is one that is truly unique; Harmonizing both earthy, slightly swamp-like green notes, which a shining, heady-sweetness of florals  and a fruity tint lingering in the back. It’s extraordinarily unique and conjures the mental image of an “ethereal lake”. 

 

Energetically, The lotus plant has been held as sacred for thousands of years and a true totem of nature’s adaptability. They thrive in the murkiest of ponds, with seeds that can live dormant for up to 1,300 years!

Our favorite lotus oils are distilled from the pink flowers, in India. ( Different colored lotus do smell differently! )

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

 

Myrrh 

Dry / Leathery / Resinous / Smooth / Vegetable Broth

 

One of the most ancient aromatics used though history - from the time of ancient Egyptians, who used Myrrh as a main ingredient in their Kyphi perfume, to modern day aromatherapists who employ Myrrh to help those who feel “stuck”,  either spiritually or emotionally. This powerful meditative aide comes from a  from the resins of a rather scraggy shrub, grown in northern Africa ( Our favorite is wild-harvested from Somolia ). 

 

IUCN Level: Data Deficient 

 

 

 

Nutmeg

Sweet Spice / Powdery / Warm / Musky

 

The most muskies of spices; Nutmeg literally translates from the latin “Nux  Muscus” , meaning Musk Nut. 

A spice with a torrid past and a powerful “holiday” association, can make it a seldom used material for perfume, however when employed correctly, Nutmeg adds an refined lusture and delicate sweet spice with just a touch of warmth - like wrapping yourself in a amber silk charmeuse.  ( see our deep dive into the material’s origins here

 

IUCN Level: Data Deficient 

 

 

 

Nargamotha ( AKA Cypriol ) 

Earthy / Sweet / Leather / Musk 

 

Chances are, you haven’t heard of this marvel - but it’s one of our all-time favorites. 

Elegant earthy, with deep hints of leather, musk and a touch a smokiness. It’s been touted as a more refined version of Patchouli, but a good quality Cypriol is so much more than that. Harvested from the roots of a topical grass. We use Cypriol to give a grounding, earthen note to some of our most popular perfumes, including Monarch

 

IUCN Level: Not Evaluated

 

 

 

Orris Butter 

 Candied-violet  / Powdery / Elegant / Woody 

 

Quite literally worth its weight in gold; Orris comes from the roots ( Rhizomes ) of the Iris Pallida plant, in a process that spans well over 6 years.  First the roots of these Iris plants are let to grow for a minimum of 3 years - following which, they are harvested, peeled by hand and set to age in jute bags for a minimum 3 additional years. Through the process of aging, “ Irones “ begin to develop within the roots producing a beautiful violet-powdery like aroma. The dried roots are then crushed and distilled into an Orris Butter, or Absolute, which perfumers have cherished for centuries. 

While many major perfume houses frequently choose a more inexpensive, synthetic imitations - we use the real deal- and there is nothing quite like it. 

 

IUCN Level: Not Evaluated 

 

 

 

Osmanthus

 Sweet / Apricot / Floral / Leather - Animalic

 

This exquisite ( and incredibly expensive ) floral has an aroma unlike any other in the palette of a perfumer - both fruity and floral, with deeply rich, leathery undertones and an almost boozy- sweet fermented wine like quality with hints of sweaty skin. It breathes in elegance to whatever blend it is incorporated it. 

In the Southern US, it is known as Tea Olive, but it originates from East Asia where it is commonly cultivated for use in teas. If you happen to stroll the streets of Tokyo in early Autumn, you will notice these heady yellow-orange blooms with their intoxicating scent filling the air. 

 

One of our all-time favorite florals that plays a starring ring role in our TEMPLE perfume. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

 

 

Patchouli 

Earthy / Fresh Soil / Sweet / Boozy, Wine-like 

 

Whatever your stance is on the epitomes Pathcouli, the fact remains that there would be very little perfume without this marvel of a material.  Ours is derived from the aged leaves of the Pogostemon cablin plant, before being installed in copper stills and set aside to age for years - which provides a smooth, earthy, sweet and almost wine-like aroma that is worlds apart from the “hippie” connotations of the American 60’s. 

 

If you’re a Patchouli lover ( or hater ), we encourage you to sample our Monarch Perfume or Vetiver Smoke candle, both of which have a high dose of this botanical treasure. Let us change your mind. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

 

Palo Santo 

Citrus / Dry Woods / Sweet / Ethereal 

 

Hailing from the coastal forests of South America, Palo Santo have long ben used in indigenous cultures as a means of purifying energy. The  Bursera graveolens  trees from which  our palo santo comes is actually a relative of Frankincense and Myrrh, two other infamous meditative aids, with strikingly different aromas. 

 

We source our Palo Santo directly from the farmers — partnering with a Sustainable farm in Ecuador who not only practices ethical and sustainable harvesting methods, they also operate their own reforestation initiative with their local community and students. To date, they have planted over 10,500 Palo Santo trees and thousands more native species  back into their forests. 

 

IUCN Level: Not Evaluated 

 

 

 

 

Frankincense

Bright -Citrus / Dry / Sweet / Balsamic 

 

The legendary resin that has gone by many names over the centuries;  “ Luban “, ‘Olibanum” “ Incense”, being the most popular. Almost a full perfume in itself; with a bright, citrusy and pine-like aroma that dries down into a rich, amber, woody, aroma that lasts for hours on skin. 

 

Our Frankincense is FairWild® Certified, meaning harvests limited, and cycled every few years to allow the tree time to “rest” between each harvest.  

 

IUCN Level: Not Evaluated 

 

 

 

Fir ( Various )

Coniferous-Green / Fresh / Balsamic / Woody

 

Like bathing in a mountain forest of fir trees, the oils of any various firs have the power to  transport one the realm of the woods. Refreshing, clean, yet grounded and early all at once. Our favorite among the Firs is a Siberian Fir, harvested from the wild trees of the cold Serbian climate. 

In aromatherapy Fir Essential Oils are employed to evoke a sense of calm and even help disinfect the air we breathe via diffusion, simulating the experience of “Forest Bathing”. It’s no wonder coniferous forests were held as sacred places since the time of the ancients. 

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

  

Grapefruit ( Red ) 

 Tart / Juicy / Citrus / Pithy Undertone

 

Much like the dazzling citrus that some enjoy for breakfast, Grapefruit has a way of awakening the olfactive senses and provides a friendly entryway into the opening of a perfume composition. The grapefruit plant itself is a naturally occurring Hybrid between the Pomelo and Sweet Orange, and at one point garnered the name “The Forbidden Fruit “, for the size of its fruits were much larger than other citrus varieties. 

 

IUCN Level: Not Evaluated 

 

 

 

Vetiver

Grassy / Sweet / Woody / Earthy 

 

Known as the Oil Of Tranquility ( and a powerful mediative aid ), this botanical marvel is harvested from the aged rootlets of a tropical grass known as Vetiver. It’s aroma is one that varies dramatically depending on the climate of where it was grown — Haitian vetiver tends to be a bit sweeter, more grassy ; Indonesian vetiver a more boozy - rich, smokey scent, while Vetiver from Paraguay has almost a nutty nuance.

And that’s why we love vetiver so much — The aroma of each harvest is a tells unique story of the land of which it was grown.

 

IUCN Level: Data Deficient

 

 

 

Violet Leaf Absolute

Crushed Green / Dewy / Powdery  / Woody undertones

 

One of the most cherished materials in MIZU’s palette, Violet Leaf adds an indescribable, cool, dewy, “new-leaf” green note to any perfume; capturing the essence of a misty spring morning, To produce this oil, the leaves of the violet plant must be handpicked, which makes this one of the most labor-intensive and expensive materials available. A starring note in MOONFLOWER.

 

IUCN Level: Of Least Concern

 

 

 

Seaweed Absolute 

Salty / Green / Gritty / Soft Leather Undertones

 

What a marvelous plant, Seaweed — A true rarity in the ways of Natural Perfume. Ours is extracted from the powdered Fucus vesiculosus (  or Bladderwrack ),  in Northwestern France, to create this seemingly odd, yet critical component to any  “Marine” type fragrance. With it’s salty, yet soft, gritty texture, it adds a subtle breeze of Ocean Air a perfume. A tricky material to work with!   

 

IUCN Level: Not Evaluated 

 

 

Spikenard

Musky / Damp Earth / Green / Bitter-sweet

 

One of the oldest known aromatics, Spikenard’s history is vast and tumoulterous. From the tales of Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Jesus with this precious oil, to the modern aromatherapists who recommend Spikenard as a natural anti-depressant and anxiety aid. This unique, earthy, musky aroma comes the the roots of the Nardostachys jatamansi, A small flowering plant that grows in the high altitudes of Tibet, and Eatern Himalayan regions. 

Due to over-harvesting and the slow growth of this plant, it is now heavily restricted as to who and when this botanical can be extracted. Luckily, our Spikenard comes from Nepal, via one of the very few certified Sustainable and CITES-approved harvests available, which is achieved through defined farming areas, with harvests that are cycled every few years, as to not exhaust the plants or soils.  

 

IUCN Level: Endangered 

** As noted above, we exclusively purchase spikenard from one of the world’s only certified sustainable, organic farms  who cultivates this plant specifically for perfume purposes.

 We use this material with extreme care and delicacy, and only from sustainable partners.  

 

 

 

Yuzu

Tart / Green /  Citrus /  Dry Citrus-Rind Backnote 

 

A close cousin of the Pomelo, this hearty evergreen citrus tree originally hails from Tibet and Central China, but soon found home in Japan, where it has been cultivated since the 18th Century.  

It’s thick, green peels provide us a unique zesty-tart citrus aroma, close to that of a green grapefruit, with a unique woody-floral undertone that makes it truly special. 

In Japan, there is the ritual of Yuzo-yu, or taking a warm bath on the Winter Solstice, with whole yuzu fruits floating in the waters to release their aromas. This practice is said to relax the mind, ward off illness and beckon in prosperity for the new year to come. 

 

IUCN Level: Data Deficient