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Juniper Ridge Wild Fragrances

Juniper Ridge Wild Fragrances

Fragrances can be scary things once you learn how to find out what's in them. The problem is that cosmetic makers, along with makers of air fresheners, soaps, detergents, and other home goods, aren't required to tell consumers what they put in their products.

Trade secret laws allow manufacturers to keep any number of ingredients secret under the generic label of fragrance". The Environmental Working Group has reported that popular perfumes, colognes, and body sprays contain, on average, 14 chemicals not listed on the label—usually petrochemicals not tested by the FDA.

So just bet that when you see the term fragrance" on a label, it probably means “hidden petrochemicals".

Wilderness Perfume

It's into this landscape that Oakland-based Juniper Ridge has swept in like a spring wind.  Founded in 1998 by backpacker and forager Hall Newbegin, Juniper Ridge uses wild harvested plants and ancient distilling techniques to create an entirely new category of all-natural fragrances, what they call "Wilderness Perfumes".

Newbegin and his small team of foragers and perfumers make regular trips into the California wilderness to harvest plants, confers, bark, moss, mushrooms, and any other little things they may discover on their hikes. They use a thousands year-old process called "tincturing" to distill the natural essences from their harvest, often right there in the backcountry out of their Ford Econoline "Field Lab".

The distilled extracts are then combined at Juniper's workshop in Oakland to create a signature scent for that particular harvest, available in a range of unisex colognes, indoor spray, soap, and incense. Each Juniper Ridge product is truly all-natural, completely free of toxic petrochemicals.

My personal favorite is their Trail Resin Cologne I picked up at Stag Provisions here in Austin. Made with beeswax and organic jojoba oil, this solid cologne can be rubbed on the wrists, neck, and beard to transport that rich outdoors scent around with you all day.

A Sense of Place and Time

When you experience Juniper Ridge's fragrances for the first time, you quickly realize that "Wilderness Perfume" is anything but a novelty. There is something fundamental that triggers in your mind every time you smell the wild pine or sagebrush distilled in their products.

Each scent not only carries with it the traits of where it originated—Big Sur, the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada—but certain qualities present at the time of harvesting. Rain, drought, cold, heat, sea air, and snow melt are all hinted at with each experience.

And there lies the true power and artistry of Juniper Ridge's wild fragrance techniques. There is something about the wilderness that is crucial to our human psyche, something that's not available to us in the concrete confines of the city. Newbegin and his team have made it possible to transport yourself into the California wilderness through your sense of smell, and restore that fundamental connection with nature no matter where you are.

Juniper Ridge products can be purchased in their online store.


Juniper Ridge was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Oakland, CA.

It harvests wild fragrance ingredients legally and sustainably from private and public lands along the Pacific coast.

For more on Juniper Ridge's harvesting and distilling techniques, visit the Harvest Stories section of their website.

Photos and video via Juniper Ridge and Huckberry

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