Berjé’s Helichrysum Oil - An Everlasting Cosmetic Solution

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A young girl stands alone on a rocky, brush-covered outcrop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The waters beneath her, once turquoise and nearly translucent, have darkened into rich indigo bearing the bright orange scar of a setting sun. In her hands sits a cluster of flowers reminiscent of the ailing sunlight; a collection of orange-yellow buds that glow as though they were made of solid gold. A thousand years before she was born, another girl held the same cluster of flowers in the same spot, living her life under the medieval Republic of Pisa. A thousand years before her, a Roman girl held the same flowers in her hands. This is Corsica, and it is home to Helichrysum italicum, an evergreen shrub that has rightfully earned its namesake as “The Everlasting Flower.” 

Helichrysum, also known as the “Curry Plant,” has one of the strongest aromas of any plant in the known world. The flower can grow under extremely harsh conditions, taking up residence in rocky soil and desolate crags that see little to no exposure to moisture. It is also completely drought tolerant and works as a natural pest repellent, making it a true survivor of gardens, grasslands, and hillsides everywhere. On Corsica, the flower’s intensely resinous odor is swept across the Mediterranean by coastal winds, carrying its scent for hundreds of kilometers. This has earned Corsica the nickname of “The Scented Isle,” as the waters surrounding its shores are dominated by the aroma of its lush undergrowth.

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The favorable climate of Corsica allows helichrysum flowers to stretch as far as the eye can see in certain regions.

Much like the island it comes from, Helichrysum has been the subject of myth and adoration for thousands of years. Ancient Greek physicians would prescribe the flower buds as a treatment for burns, bruises, and other external ailments. Pliny the Elder, one of the most famous Roman philosophers of the natural world, remarked on its ability to ease the pain when blended with wine. Of course, the wine likely carried the lion’s share of “pain relief” in that application, but the legend of Helichrysum has endured all the same. Corsican natives have used Helichrysum to repel cloth-devouring insects and garden-devouring deer since their earliest days. But for modern markets, the most alluring feature of Helichrysum is the versatility provided by its essential oils.

 Unlike the plant’s curry-scented inflorescences, Helichrysum Oil exhibits a far sweeter and richer aroma, most often compared to the smell of unrefined honey. Almost overwhelming at first, the odor also retains a fruity and tea-like delicateness that becomes more pronounced as time goes on. This uniquely pleasant facet of Helichrysum is highly tenacious and works excellently as a fixative within a wide range of perfumery ingredients including citrus, chamomile, and lavender. Helichrysum also contains high amounts of natural neryl acetate, which is quite rare in essential oils and can be used to impart a floral and fruity aroma. This makes the material especially appealing for natural perfumery applications, as its richness and tenacity can provide the perfect modifier for other floral components.

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Helichrysum Oil is distilled in large batches throughout Corsica, as the flower can be found almost everywhere on the island.

Berjé sources our Helichrysum Oil from local growing communities across Corsica, some of whom have harvested the flower since the earliest sunrises were observed from its Mediterranean shoreline. Truly immortal, Helichrysum has endured millennia of usage by human civilization, from homeopathic remedies to the modern perfume industry. It is an undeniably historic component of our industry, and a material worth appreciating as such. A thousand years from now, it will be someone else holding that same cluster of yellow dome-shaped flowerheads, wondering where to take Helichrysum next.

Samples of Helichrysum Oil are available upon request. To submit a sample request, please visit our web page at Berjé Online.


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