Pacifica Spanish Amber

Link to “Pacifica Update” post. Pacifica does indeed use synthetics, and is not transparent about that in their ingredient lists. Until they are, I cannot endorse their products. 

Pacifica makes a bold claim on its website. “This is the best Amber in the world.” I am not an amber lover, so I can neither confirm nor deny that statement, but I certainly love their confidence. And I do love their business model. Take a look at the founders’ Standards and Ethics and you’ll know they have a deep commitment not only to the environment, but also to the health of their customers and employees.

Not being one who is enamored of amber, I had not actively educated myself about this particular scent. But I recently read Mandy Aftel’s “Essence and Alchemy” and learned that amber is actually a blend of several scents. Typically labdanum, which is a resin from a Mediterranean shrub; benzoin, which is a secretion of the Styrax tree, and vanilla. There are other blends that can go into an amber resin, but this represents a simple example. So it’s no surprise that Spanish Amber’s notes are amber resin, as well as rose gernanium, sandalwood, bergamot, and elemi. (Elemi is a tree native to the Philippine Islands, and its fragrant resin oil apparently has a sharp lemonish scent, which for the record is no where to be found in this fragrance).

Spanish Amber comes in both a perfume solid and spray perfume. I tried them both, and they are very similar in scent and their excellent lasting power. The base of the solid perfume is organic coconut wax, organic soy wax, and non-GMO hydrogenated soy wax. Applying the solid perfume was very sensual. It warmed easily and absorbed well. The fragrance itself is definitely for amber lovers. But fair warning to the amber connoisseur, I would not call this complex or sophisticated. It’s a lovely, soft, straightforward amber that is wearable for even someone like myself who typically shies away from anything with amber in the name. For the first few hours, neither the rose geranium nor the bergamot assert themselves, and the sandalwood is present just enough to provide a gentle footing to assure the amber plays nice. Yet, after about five hours of wear Spanish Amber did evolve somewhat and the sandalwood emerged as well as a hint of vanilla which was not so prevalent in the initial amber mix.

And can I get an Amen? solids-group-fall-08-standardimageThe price of these fragrances is just what the penny-pinching perfumista ordered! $9 for the perfume solid and $22 for the perfume spray. I say go for the perfume solid. They are portable, really cute, and the scent lasts for hours. And if you’re like me and amber isn’t your thing, not to worry, their selection is outstanding. I will be reviewing more of their fragrances since they are so affordable. Pacifica also makes wonderful body butters and candles. Additionally, Pacifica products are free of parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates and lead wicks.

Pacifica is available at their website, Sephora, Whole Foods, and probably your local health food store.

Posted by ~Trish

photo by loutraje on Flickr

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15 thoughts on “Pacifica Spanish Amber

  1. Dear Scent Hive,

    Pacifica makes some nice perfumes and they do attempt to keep a green edge to their products. In their Standards and Ethics statement they say:

    “Pacifica products are made using the finest, consumer-safe and sustainable raw materials, including natural ingredients and essential oils.”

    However their “natural ingredients” include synthetic petro chemicals. I have to call them out on this as the word “natural” is used throughout the perfume industry deceptively to imply that all their ingredients are straight from nature. Synthetic chemicals are very removed from their original source, and in this instance are derived from petroleum, oil by products. I would be curious as to the percentages used, essential oils to synthetic chemical.

    I surmise by the low price they sell their product at that its probably 80% synthetic, 20% essential oils. Pacifica could tell you for sure. But will they?

    Perfume Monkey
    -in the service of truth

  2. Hi Perfume Monkey,
    I have just put in an email asking Pacifica to clarify whether or not they use petroleum ingredients in their products. We will see what they say. And yes, you are absolutely right, many will argue that oil is natural….so be it. It is up to the consumer to decide if they want to purchase a product made from petroleum.

    I will give everyone an update as soon as I hear back from Pacifica.

    Please see update: https://scenthive.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/pacifica-update/

    Thanks for reading Scent Hive and keep seeking the truth!

    ~T

  3. The customer service agent at Pacifica is incorrect. They do indeed use synthetic aroma-chemicals in their perfumes and that is information straight from the owners. Ask EXACTLY what the “natural ingredients” are made of and what EXACT components make up the scent in the products. And what percentage of synthetic to essential oils makes up that scent.

    Perfume Monkey
    -in the service of truth

  4. Hi PM,
    I have invited Pacifica here to address your concerns regarding what customer service has told me vs what the owners have told you.

    In the meantime, for those seekers of a reasonably priced alternative to mainstream perfumes, Pacifica provides a nice option.

    I have all types of readers here, some who want strictly organic, all natural perfumes, and some who would be OK with the use of synthetics. So even if the customer service representative was misinformed, I will continue to review their products, but would categorize them under “somewhat natural perfumes” rather than “natural”.

    ~T

  5. I am a big lover of Pacifica’s soy candles, but I have yet to really give there fragrances a try, but I just noticed something very interesting Sephora is now carrying their stuff.

  6. Dear Trish,

    If you have an opportunity to speak with Billy Taylor, one of the owners of Pacifica he can tell you the truth behind the synthetic scents used in their products. It was he who told me that (I am paraphrasing) “We can’t afford to use 100% essential oils for the scent in all the products. Its too expensive”.
    He did not tell me the ratio of synthetic to essential oil.
    Maybe you can find this information out.

    People are going to use scent as they please. Some don’t mind the synthetics. But when it comes down to truth in advertising its imperative that the consumer has the real information available to them.

    Perfume Monkey
    -in the service of truth

    1. Hi PM,
      I have sent one more email to Pacifica’s CS asking them to clear up the disparity about what they have told me vs what the owner has told you. And again I extended them the welcome to come address it here on Scent Hive.

      I looked thoroughly on their website, and they never do claim to use *only* natural ingredients. Unfortunately they do not list their ingredients for their perfumes/solids either. It just states “Pacifica’s own fragrance blend with natural and essential oils”. Admittedly that is vague.

      So no false advertising, but maybe a little misleading. And potentially a misinformed customer service rep? Hopefully I’ll hear back and it will get cleared up. It’s the best I can do at this point.

      Here is the update: https://scenthive.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/pacifica-update/

      ~Trish

    2. Yes, Perfume Monkey, I totally agree with you and especially in the “truth in advertising” issue. I was drawn to Pacifica in a search for all-natural perfumes, but having received my first order of their perfume, I realize now that if indeed they were all natural, I would read that on the bottle, and I don’t. I’m bummed, and I do think that because they market their stuff as natural, their spin a tad misleading.

  7. Hey, Trish — as you know I don’t care whether things are “natural” or not, but if perfumers/companies say they are, they should be. I wish I had a dollar for every uninformed SA at a MAINSTREAM fragrance counter who has told me that fragrance xyz is so expensive because it’s all natural, which is ridiculous.

    Having said that, from a strictly aesthetic point of view, I really like the Pacifica products. My favorites are their Fig and Pacific Mountain Temple.

    1. March, ITA. It gets to be a little like fuzzy math doesn’t it?

      Companies are allowed to put “fragrance” for just about anything, can call almost any product “natural” and consumers don’t know what they are getting.

      So unless a company tells you explicitly that their fragrance is from botanical origins like Strange Invisible Perfumes, or Ayala Moriel, or Roxana Villa, or In Fiore, etc. you’re never quite sure.

      Whatever the consumer chooses is fine by me, I just wish there were higher standards for ingredient labels.

      And thanks for your recs! Maybe those will be my next Pacifica reviews 🙂 Hopefully they will have responded by then.

      PS: I got the Wabi Sabi book.

  8. Oh, I hope you enjoy the book! As I think (?) I said to you, I liked that it was relatively concise and clear, not some huge ponderous tome. I could read a chapter and think about it.

    I just reread my first comment. Tibetan mountain temple is what I meant, obviously. And whichever one has jasmine in it makes me giggle a little, it’s quite indolic to my nose. It’s not quite the “refreshing” smell you might be looking for in a bathroom soap.

  9. Hi, Trish,

    I have the Spanish Amber solid, and the lotion. Very nice. (No Borat accent. 😉 ) I got a few of their others to try, also; am thinking of posting soon on my little Pacifica collection…

    I enjoy it, actually, as a basic amber. It is a bit sweeter than the Yves Rocher Voile d’Ambre–which I tend to lump it with because of their similar price point. As an amber fan, I am prone to collecting both data about ambers, and, of course, the scents themselves.

  10. I’m so glad I came across this website, I was just about to purchase multiple Pacifica brand fragrances from Whole Foods, but decided to investigate first…

    Petroleum products are NOT natural…the oil that comes out of the ground..and its black..yeah, THAT is natural, the version they use in lotions & beauty products & even FOOD…NOT NATURAL!

    I happen to have extreme eczema flare ups when any petroleum products touch my skin…I’m glad I found out BEFORE I purchased their products.

    A lot of beauty product companies list all of the ingredients on their products so people can decide for themselves which chemicals they want to avoid…Pacifica does NOT do this.

    To call something “natural” and include petroleum as an ingredient is absurd…I suppose mineral oil is natural too, because it has the word “mineral” in it??

    There are tons of REAL natural alternatives to using cheap petroleum products…and how expensive could essential oils be?? I see them at Whole Foods in the tiny bottles all the time…I might have to start trying to make my own perfume by mixing all of the pure essential oils together, so at least I’ll know exactly what I’m putting on my skin.

    1. Denise,

      Pacifica does not use petrochemicals in their body products. Please see this post for the clarification of that. They only use it in their paraffin candles.

      https://scenthive.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/pacifica-update/

      Also, almost all of the perfumes reviewed here do not use petrochemicals. It’s very exciting how many natural perfumers there are that care about the environment enough to not use them. Please contact me if you have any specific questions.

      ~Trish

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