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The Definition of Attar

Definition: Attar

Attars are the world’s oldest perfumes, incredibly concentrated elixirs extracted from the juices of flowers, spices, and barks. They can contain anything from hundreds of ingredients to a simple, single note, sometimes distilled over years. Rose attar is probably the best known, but there are as many attars as there are fragrant herbs. While they’ve remained popular in India and the Middle East, attars had fallen out of favor among mainstream Western perfumeries, only to be found in niche, "natural" perfume boutiques, and among those allergic to the synthetic bases used in most modern perfumes. But recently there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of this type of fragrance.

Distilled in naturally derived oils, not the lab-synthesized compounds many perfume companies have become reliant on, attars are a lot more green, and much more skin-friendly, than their chemical counterparts. Aveda's certified organic scent, Ancient Attar ($70), is a romantic, long-lasting blend of rose, neroli, and sandalwood. You can try the attar experience without investing big bucks as well. C.O. Bigelow has been using attars in its apothecary products for 168 years, and it has a huge line of singular notes like Magnolia Perfume Oil ($15), a heady, unabashedly floral scent.

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