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Unveil the secrets behind your perfume

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

I know.

Those chemical names are a curse!

Synthetic odorant molecules are the building blocks of mainstream perfumery. A natural essence may contain hundreds of odorant molecules and other chemical compounds – this is what we label in our products ingredients list - the main chemical compounds of our natural essential oil synergies. (learn more about it by clicking The art of the fragrant Spanish Alchemy and Are you buying the right essential oils? )

But, did you know that the ones that contribute the most to smell can be isolated and synthesised?

Yes, they can.

Each will yield a distinct facet of the original essence. These molecules can then be assembled to conjure an olfactory illusion in a few broad strokes: when your fragrance has a jasmine note, there’s a good chance it comes from a combination of the synthesised chemicals trying to imitate the naturally found compounds in jasmine rather than the actual jasmine essence - of which there might be a few drops so the advertising copy doesn’t lie.

Taken separately those molecules won’t actually smell of jasmine. But if you blend benzyl acetate (use as floral, apple, banana, nail polish) hedione ( as green citrusy, airy) jasmolactone (as buttery, fruity, coconut, peach smell ) and indole (which is derived from—wait for it—coal tar ) you’ll get an impression of jasmine flower that’s a lot cheaper to produce than the real stuff.

Aromatic materials, natural and synthetic can also be combined to reproduce the scent of a flower whose essence can’t be extracted by distillation (a natural essential oil extraction method) such as gardenia, lily of the valley or lilac.

Despite the breathless sales pitches of perfumery industry, if 1% of what’s in your perfume bottle comes from a thing that was alive at some point - tap yourself - you’re doing well, any more would cut into profits margins.

In fact, there is a lab technique called Chromatography used for the separation of any mixture - meaning they can separate and analyse the odorant molecules of any natural essential oils blend - and consequently, synthesise and imitate. However, if a lab doesn't know the exact composition of essential oils on that blend they can create an olfactory illusion of the original but - being a natural synergy - they won't get the same outcome. A natural essence has far more olfactory layers than a synthetic. Since it is a living product; its natural odorants molecules keep popping up. This is the reason why we don't label our essential oil synergies compositions on our products but rather the most important compounds.

Are you feeling deluded right now?

I did, consequently I switched to natural.

Natural materials are harder to sourced which makes them more expensive than synthetics and they are also limited to what nature can offer. A drought, a flood or a war will make the prices shoot up. On the other hand, crops don’t smell exactly the same from one year to another, with synthetics you can produce batch after batch, and it will always be the same – when there’s no life involved there’s no variations.

It’s not just a matter of the industry convenience. Glamorous and exotic natural essences are far more expensive than their synthetic replica - which makes those - accessible to a bigger market.

In fact, without synthetic, perfumery wouldn’t exist as an industry - it’s natural perfumery what it is a genuine luxury nowadays.

But perfume industry is not limited to personal fragrances.

You find perfume in your laundry soap, your shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, all sorts of skincare and makeup products, mouthwash, home fragrance, toothpaste, softener, candles and so on! We have perfumed everything that surround us - it had to be affordable and unlimited and therefore synthetic. The problem comes when many years after being using synthetic molecules several universities studies demonstrated that the reason for such an increase of illnesses such as asthma, allergies, hormonal disruption amongst others are caused by ingredients contained in those synthetic aromatic molecules along with other chemicals used in our everyday skincare and household products.

Aluminium, Artificial fragrances, Benzoic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, BPAS, Coal Tar, DEA, Diethanolamine, Dimethicone, Ethoxylated Surfacants, Ethylparaben, Ethylparaben, EDTAs, Formaldehyde, Lead, Mercury, Monoethanolamine, Methanone, Methyl Parabens, Mineral Oils, Oxomethan, Parabens, Petrochemicals, Preservatives, Phthalates, Propyl Esters, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Synthetic Dyes, Silicones, Talc, Tricolsan amongst others compile the list of the non-healthy ingredients.

But this is not a blog post to freak you out, it is to inform you about what’s used in perfumery industry, so you have the tools to make better choices. You can find many DIY recipes on our blog to create your own natural products at home and use a safe option. Click here to browse all our natural recipes in our category Do It Yourself and breathe in a safe environment.

Perfume is to smell what eroticism is to sex: an aesthetic, cultural and emotional elaboration of the raw material provided by nature.

Thus, perfumery like love requires technical skills and some knowledge – both can be arts but none of them are officially recognised as such. When you switch to natural your nose won’t be easily tricked with synthetic molecules blends any more. I was told so when I did switch to natural more than 20 years ago and the person who told me was right, your nose will tell you. Rome wasn’t built in one day; it takes some time to educate your olfactory sense.

Our perfumes only contain natural ingredients. I first create an alchemic tincture (spagyrics) made of organic plants and an alcoholic base (with undenatured food grade alcohol obtained from sugar cane called ethyl alcohol or undenatured ethanol) following an ancient alchemic process. In addition, the alcohol contain is diluted with a hydrosol instead of water – a by product obtained from essential oils distillation that contain its active ingredients. And finally our synergy of essential oils blend is created following the Spanish alchemic perfumery method where on top of the melody of the aroma made of low, middle and high notes we also consider the energetic polarity of the essential oils to bring a balanced synergy that suits the purpose of the specific Alchemic Perfume.

Only 100% natural ingredients artfully crafted to bring you a unique, organic and truly luxurious perfume. Discover our Alchemic Perfumes Collection

It’s true that perfume is about dreams, but I want to smell real flowers not just dream about them. What about you?

Shine Bright Naturally,

Sonia x

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