When we think of perfume ingredients, we often visualise fragrant flowers, juicy fruit and aromatic herbs. Less frequently do we think of secretions of animal’s glands or smells of natural leather or fur, despite the fact that they in fact make the scent warm, seductive and sensual.
Rose and violet, or caramelised popcorn?
For centuries, perfume ingredients were purely natural: of plant or animal origin. Currently, the perfume industry has taken a step back from natural ingredients. There are many reasons for it. Above all, introducing aldehydes to compositions added previously unknown sharpness and pureness to scents and this allowed for more composition experiments. The development of perfumery resulted in creation of new notes, for example metallic or ozone notes, impossible to be obtained in a natural way. This is why we can enjoy such original notes, such as caramelised popcorn, pebbles, ink, Jamaican rum or panna cotta. Another reason to depart from natural ingredients is to simplify and speed up perfume production. In order to acquire 500g of fragrance oil from rose, a few thousand kilos of rose petals are needed. It is even harder with the scent of jasmine and violet, so the production of their concretes is very time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, higher availability of materials directly results in shorter time and lower costs of production. Moreover, synthetic ingredients can be a lot more durable than natural extracts and oils. Better researched synthetic ingredients cause fewer allergies than ingredients of natural origins.
Capture the scent
To perfume lovers it may come as a shock that using natural ingredients is not always advantageous, also when it comes to sensory qualities. Some aromas accurately resemble the actual scent only thanks to appropriate chemical experiments. Not many people realise that some notes will not be acquired by extraction or maceration. Aromas acquired from lilac are completely different from the natural scent. It is similar when it comes to lily of the valley that we would not be able to enjoy if it wasn’t for chemical synthesis. Paradoxically then, components acquired artificially are perceived by our sense of smell as more natural and closer to what we feel by smelling real violets, roses or lilac. It also happens that notes of natural ingredients feel artificial when applied on the body. The scent of synthetic equivalents is also more repeatable, homogeneous and it is not influenced by the quality of harvest in that particular year, which always depends on atmospheric conditions. Another noble reason for withdrawal from natural ingredients of animal origin is to the benefit of endangered species and protection of animal rights. Finally, the withdrawal of natural ingredients was also influenced by their price. Thanks to synthetic equivalents of natural ingredients, prices of ready perfume products are a lot lower than in the past.