Probably you are wondering what does it mean to create perfumes with materials from chemistry synthesis or from the nature? How are they used to display their characteristic differences, their own personality? Is it easier to create with synthetic materials or with natural essential oils?
Perfume design, formulation and final compounding simply corresponds in fact to a conversation, storytelling, an interplay between materials, ingredients. A synthetic material carries a simple and single information, and usually is very linear. Its smell is uniform, clear, and faithful. Natural materials in perfumery, on the contrary, provide a strong, complex and generous images, sensations, and impressions. While a synthetic material could be seen simply as a single word and it does not change over time, a natural could be compared to chatting: cold, warm, sticky, heavy, transparent, pepper, green, metallic, smooth, watery, fruity, musty, earthy… full of information, symbolism, and magic what only nature can offer to you. It is a time to reconnect with nature again as our ancestors lived, simply naturally. To formulate a perfume is not to create a culinary recipe, not at all, with only dosing the ingredients in well-balanced amounts or like in the contemporary perfumery only to take care of the base, middle and top notes. To formulate rather means to flexibly knit materials together with a lively stitch like a tapestry, mysterious Anatolian kilim full of symbolism or French Tapestry Gobelin, meeting or repelling each other, building a pleasant form, which is neither fixed, nor solid, nor rigid, nor linear, nor boring. A perfume has an overall complex structure, which ranges from a clear sound, made up of stable, unique, and linear items, to a background chat, comfortable and reassuring. Natural perfumes transform magically their shapes over time, every minute, every hour… Natural perfumes are created by a perfumer having a unique talent that can be compared to artists, musicians, writers, painters… As the latter work with a palette of single musical notes or colors to create their masterpieces, perfumers harmoniously combine aromas to create the magic smell, a masterpiece. Please visit Dr. Isidor Apothecary and Perfumery and our panel of natural perfume oils and offering of the natural Parfum – Extrait designed and formulated according to the techniques from 14th to 19th century.
500+ versus 1200+ in today’s perfumery
Aromas of the natural perfumes are unambiguously linked together like Yin and Yang! Aromas (either natural or synthetic) per se are indispensable tools to enable perfumers to create masterpieces – fragrances eliciting the magic smell. Approximately 250 plant species are used to produce more than 500 different natural products. Thus, the natural perfumers use probably in their pallet only 500+ oils and extracts. They are obtained from various plant parts such as flowers, fruits, peels, leaves, barks, seeds, woods, roots, and resinous exudates by either distillation, mechanical separation (“pressing”) or extraction. Products produced via steam / water distillation or cold pressing are called essential oils. Solvent extracts are either called concretes or resinoids. Perfumers who use synthetic materials today use approximately 1,200 aroma chemicals of various odor directions to create fragrances for different applications.
The highly individual nature of perfume choice – what does it mean?
Cross-culturally, from the ancient times to our modern times perfumes are used to modulate body odor, but the psychology of fragrance choice has been largely overlooked. The prevalent view is that fragrances mask an individual’s body odor and improve its pleasantness. Psychologists found positive effects of perfume on body odor perception. Importantly, however, this was modulated by significant interactions with individual odor donors. Fragrances thus appear to interact with body odor, creating an individually-specific odor mixture. The odor mixture of an individual’s body odor and their preferred perfume was perceived as more pleasant than a blend of the same body odor with a randomly-allocated perfume, even when there was no difference in pleasantness between the perfumes. This indicates that fragrance use extends beyond simple masking effects and that people choose perfumes that interact well with their own odor. These results provide an explanation for the highly individual nature of perfume choice.
NATURAL PERFUMES — do you know how to evaluate natural perfumes?
Natural perfumes are very complex and multifaceted and evolve with wear as they “travel” and transform from the top, middle and base notes and even their combinations or its unique composition. They have unique life and character and often this vibrancy is lost on perfumer’s strips. Natural perfumes wear best on skin and should always be evaluated this way. Please make sure your skin is properly moisturized prior any application of any perfume either natural or synthetic. Think about many factors that can influence your impression of perfumes, what is your diet, what medications do you use every day, is your skin properly treated with skin care products, what is pH of your skin slightly acidic as it should be or alkaline, what season is winter, fall, summer…and many more.
Evaluating natural perfumes is totally different compared with the typical contemporary perfume sampling experience, just as natural perfumes are different from synthetic perfumes. Natural perfumes are significantly less linear than synthetic perfumes. It is important to reserve judgement until you could smell the perfume through its entire cycle. You may be amazed at how different a natural perfume smells after a few minutes, a half hour, one hour…they are like “shape shifters”. It sounds magically, right! Never try to evaluate a natural perfume by smelling the bottle. This way simply doesn’t work. Sometimes the scent is not usually strong enough to smell from a capped bottle and you will miss the beautiful nuances that natural perfumes possess over time on your skin.
While mainstream contemporary perfumes are mostly synthetic and contain very little natural material – ingredients, they transfer very well to the blotter, they are linear. These perfumes smell almost the same on your skin as they do on the tester strip. This is absolutely not a scenario with natural perfumes, we have to smell and evaluate them in a different manner.
Many people claim they don’t like florals but they’ve never smelled real rose or gorgeous jasmine. Natural perfumes often contain beautiful rare essences or unique combinations that most are unfamiliar with. Just because you have loathed a mainstream perfume that claims to contain rose doesn’t mean you hate all rose scents. Even roses smell different on women’s skin compared with man’s skin. Try and you will see that roses can be really unisex.
Remember, 100% natural perfumes need a few moments to settle in. They don’t smell exactly the same on the blotter as they do on your skin. Don’t rush! Magical notes are slowly revealing themselves to you. Then make a choice and enjoy the beauty and magic of natural perfume!
Ellena C., Perfume formulation: words and chats. Chem Biodivers. 2008 Jun;5(6):1147-53
Lenochová P, Vohnoutová P, Roberts SC, Oberzaucher E, Grammer K, Havlíček J., Psychology of fragrance use: perception of individual odor and perfume blends reveals a mechanism for idiosyncratic effects on fragrance choice. PLoS One. 2012;7(3): e33810.
Lecture entitled “Fragrances: Creating the Magic Smell” at Formulate Asia 2008 – From Concept to Reality, 30-31 October 2008, Singapore.
How to Smell and Evaluate a Natural Perfume — https://www.providenceperfume.com/blogs/news/11217793-how-to-smell-and-evaluate-a-natural-perfume
Dr. Isidor – Dr. Isidor Apothecary and Perfumery – modifications and additions to the references