What is the composition of a perfume sold in the market today? What are the differences between natural and synthetic perfumes? Why are fragrances designed with synthetic molecules badly perceived? In what way would natural components be more suitable?
Composition of a perfume: synthetic and natural raw materials
Luxury brands today sell fragrances created from natural and synthetic raw materials. A large number of fragrances are based on natural raw materials. However, for reasons of ease, economy, or ecology, the natural raw material is recreated in the laboratory by human hands. The world of the scented candle is no exception, as it obviously depends on perfumery!
Moreover, thanks to the chemistry and subtle art of perfumery, incredible and unique combinations and alloys are made and elaborated to create new fragrances. Certain innovative techniques (the headspace) also make it possible to capture smells that are impossible to distil normally, such as that of a forest, for example, and recreate it in a totally artificial way.
Differences between synthetic and natural molecules
The synthetic molecule
The synthetic molecule, designed by the chemist, mimics the natural molecule. The molecule is reflected and created in the laboratory by combining several scent molecules, aromas and solvents, in order to come as close as possible to resemble what exists in nature. The primary objective is to copy natural olfactory notes. Each year, more than 2000 molecules are invented, fuelling limitless creativity. Synthesizing is mandatory in certain cases, when the imitated natural component becomes rare, its use becomes forbidden or too regulated. Synthesizing amounts to safeguarding nature in a way.
In other cases, all possible techniques for capturing the essence (expression, distillation, extraction, etc.) of certain flowers (such as lily of the valley), certain plants or fruits will give absolutely nothing, because these natural raw materials are too fragile or contain too much water.
The natural molecule
The use of natural raw materials in perfumes today is a guarantee of quality and prestige. Natural is in vogue, it is reassuring and is part of an increasingly asserted organic and ethical approach. Synthetic fragrances are sometimes badly perceived, criticized, conveying a negative image, accused of allergies and reactions on the skin.
The user then turns to naturalness. They are looking for products with a more transparent, less artificial composition. This new market is proving to be a big challenge for all perfumers. In fact, there are only a few hundred natural molecules compared to several thousand synthetic ones. Combinations are therefore more complex, limited and rare.
Without chemistry, no modern perfumery
It is important to be aware that without chemical synthesis, there would be no perfumes as we know them today.
Modern chemical techniques allow new combinations. Indeed, musky or woody notes do not exist in nature. Synthetic molecules therefore allow us to go beyond, constantly creating new possibilities, new combinations and thus new emotions.
The perfume industry knows how to combine the natural and the artificial for unique results.