Luxury vs Function in Perfumery


Although the word “perfume” is likely to conjure up a vision of luxurious glass bottles, the reality is that most of us come across perfumes in much more prosaic ways–whenever we do our laundry, wash dishes or brush our teeth. Functional perfumery, as this branch of fragrance is called, is a vibrant field that affects our daily lives much more than designer brand fragrances. It is often at the forefront of development in fragrance chemistry, exploring ideas that eventually make an impact on fine fragrance. Companies like Tide, Colgate, P&G, and Unilever devote much effort to the research and development of detergents, fabric softeners, soaps, beauty care products and other daily necessities. In developing countries, functional scents are the only commercial perfumes people are likely to encounter in their day-to-day lives. Therefore, while functional perfumery does not have the glamour of its fine perfumery counterpart, it is an important aspect of our fragrance experience.

Noses Behind Functional Scents

For a perfumer, functional perfumery is a challenging area: the tricky product bases, raw material restrictions, intricate IFRA policies, and complex client demands. Add an extremely tight budget and you have an area of perfumery in which it takes a lot of effort to make a winning scent. It is common for fine fragrance perfumers to start out working in functional fragrances and today all perfumery school curricula include functional perfumery as a mandatory subject. Learning to work with functional fragrance restrictions can give an edge to a perfumer. If one is able to make a memorable, strong and diffusive fragrance on a pitifully small budget, then fine fragrance, with its more flexible parameters, can be an exciting transition. There are many legendary perfumers who followed this path. Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel No 5 started to work at Rallet in 1898 in the area of soap. Jean-Michel Duriez, the in-house perfumer for Jean Patou, worked for Kao on functional perfumery projects before transitioning to fine fragrance.

Another notable example is Firmenich perfumer Annie Buzantian, whose work on Estée Lauder Pleasures and Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò Pour Homme has a particularly interesting combination of strong signature and beautiful balance. Sophia Grojsman of Yves Saint Laurent Paris and Lancôme Trésor fame, started out working on scenting depilatory creams, and to this day, she enjoys working on products for the functional division. Luca Turin mentions that the great perfumer Jean Carles, the author of Christian Dior Miss Dior, Carven Ma Griffe and Dana Tabu, was extremely proud of the low price of his formulas and enjoyed working on soaps. An ability to work with functional products can often give a push to the perfumer not only to think in original ways about fine fragrance challenges, but also to try new material combinations that may not be that obvious. Even today, some of the functional scents you encounter might have been created by a famous nose whose work is just as likely to appear under a fancy, luxury label.

Perfume Function: Masking vs Pleasing

The main difference between fine and functional perfumery has to do with the role of scent itself. In fine fragrance, the beautiful scent is the sole raison d’être for the product; in functional perfumery, scent has a more complex role. Not only does it need to mask the often harsh and unpleasant odor of the product base, it also needs to be pleasing. Catching a whiff of unscented hair conditioner with its extremely noxious, sulfuric odor or a harsh and fatty smelling liquid detergent base is enough to make one admire the skill required to create a scent that instead evokes a juicy fruit salad or a shower of flower petals. Not only is the scent of the functional product base unpleasant, the base itself is much more likely to react with the components of the fragrance oil resulting in off-odors, discoloration, and other challenges to the stability of the product.

The first goal of a perfume for a functional product therefore is to mask the product base. The process of masking an unpleasant odor is a fascinating aspect of functional perfumery. The idea is to include an unpleasant odor into the perfume structure, rather than to try covering it up with a stronger scent. For instance, if the product base contains a sour-musty odor, it is a good candidate for experimenting with a classical oriental accord like Guerlain Shalimar. This works well, because Shalimar relies on animalic notes of castoreum and leather to give a rich dimension to its citrusy-vanilla accord. The musty off-odor can likewise be envisioned as an animalic note as part of an oriental base. The addition of a fresh citrusy accord and vanilla can make the off-odor become a part of the final product. In the same vein, fatty odors are masked well by citrus oils because their natural aldehyde components have a fatty scent. Therefore, citrus oil provides an olfactory context in which the fatty off-odor no longer seems as unpleasant. Other interesting example can be found in the formulations of deodorant and anti-perspirant products. Neroli and petitgrain oils (or more likely, their synthetic replacements) are very popular choices, since these materials share the same pungent component as perspiration and allow it to become masked by the bright, green freshness of orange flower.

Scent : New Constraints

Different product functions also require perfumers to think differently in terms of what materials and fragrance structures might suit the final product. When you spray an alcohol based perfume on your skin, your response to it will be based on how the scent melds into your skin, how it lasts throughout the day and simply how the perfume makes you feel as you wear it. However, we have different expectations for a functional product fragrance. Shower gel should smell delicious not only sniffed quickly at the supermarket as you make your selection, but it should also have an appealing, diffusive scent as it is lathered up in the shower. A candle should smell good when unlit as well as to give a good throw while being burned.

Water soluble materials cannot be used in detergents or liquid fabric softeners if the goal is for the scent to remain on the fabric. Yet it is very important for a fabric detergent to have a good, pleasant scent on wet laundry as well as dry. On the other hand, dish washing soaps require complete water solubility. They should smell pleasant as you wash the dishes, but then the fragrance must vanish completely, leaving no trace on the plates. In a sense, dish washing fragrances consist solely of top notes, with no middle or base accords. The opposite is true for home fragrance products–the fragrance needs to retain the same character throughout its evaporation and have a good, strong presence.

Trickle Down, Trickle Up

When someone tells you that your Chanel No 5 smells like hairspray, it may not be an insult; consider that they might have a rather sensitive nose. While I am being only slightly facetious, the trickle down phenomenon has resulted in many famous fragrance signatures being appropriated for functional products in order to lend them a cache of luxury and good quality. Aromatic fougères like Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir still remain popular choices for car air fresheners, while the grapefruit and vetiver notes reminiscent of Terre d’Hermès are starting to appear in masculine body products.

On the other hand, fine fragrance perfumery has come to borrow from functional perfumery as well. While functional perfumery has its own set of limitations, the materials that are valued produce a long lasting, strong effect. At various times, materials that have been used in functional fragrances have made their way into fine fragrances, either because the material was found to be strong and tenacious, or because it produced a certain effect. Thus, Estée Lauder White Linen used a large quantity of the musk, Galaxolide, which until then was mostly reserved for laundry. The effect in a fine fragrance was at once powerful and familiar, conveying a clean, fresh sensation. Lily of the valley and other fresh floral notes have likewise made a transition from functional to fine perfumery, while fruity accords reminiscent of Clairol’s runaway success, Herbal Essences, are now a common feature in fine fragrances, from Donna Karan Be Delicious to Bath & Body Works Mango Mandarin.

Moreover, scents have a very important role in functional perfumery to communicate the product’s performance to the consumer. Functional perfumery relies on heavy market research. While consumer preferences for fine fragrance are quite volatile, the preferences for a scent in a functional product are very strong and difficult to change. In the US, the preferred scent for furniture polish is citrus, for soap citronella is common (such as Ivory), and for shampoo, fruity notes are favored. In India, the woody-herbal scent of red colored Lifebuoy soap is associated with cleanliness. In France, orange blossom is associated with small children, while in the US, it has rather mature and sophisticated associations.

In order to launch a new product, it is not enough that the product is functionally great. The scent is an essential part which will ultimately determine whether a consumer can connect with the product or not. From the consumer perspective, it is a conservative market, but for the perfumers it can be a challenging and innovative discipline.

Photo of lavender scented soap from Grasse, France by VeraKL.



  • rosarita: This is a fascinating read. To be honest, I haven’t given this topic much thought, except for the world of bath products. Once body washes were introduced, with the accompanying *puff*, the number of products and scents became almost overwhelming. With the information you’ve provided about the hard labor involved in production of these products, the ever changing profusion of scents is even more impressive. Thank you! March 15, 2011 at 4:58am Reply

  • axum: Fascinating post. I had long wondered about the odd fragrances of sunblock, and now I’m imagining how challenging it would be to mask such a base! I wonder too whether there are some “lost” miraculous perfumes buried amongst the test results in the world of functional perfume. March 15, 2011 at 4:51am Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: This is terrific post. I am always fascinated with “form meets function” analyses.

    I have often said,why can’t they make a perfume to smell like Downy fabric softener? I’d buy that!

    My exhusband,who was a chemist,told me that the scent component in some detergents was the most expensive part of the formula-Tide most notably.(I have no data to prove that,LOL)

    But I am curious, in the instance of fragrance free products, how do they get around,so to speak, the disagreeable odors of the bases?
    (Maybe thay really aren’t fragrance free-just odor neutralized??) March 15, 2011 at 9:59am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Very interesting. I can appreciate the challenge some difficult bases must present for a perfumer. Thank you for this fascinating article. March 15, 2011 at 7:23am Reply

  • maggiecat: This IS fascinating! I love scented soaps and am choosy about what I use. i’ve also smelled soap in the raw – and it’s awful, to the point of questioning whether or not it the body ordor would be preferable. There is both an art and a science to making these everyday products smell good, and I appreciate this chance to learn more. March 15, 2011 at 11:29am Reply

  • OperaFan: Several years ago, I noticed that the laundry detergent I’d used for many years had changed and the scent of my freshly laundered clothes began to bear an uncanny resemblance to Guerlain’s Jardin de Bagatelle. Then I read references in other blogs, most notably Octavian’s, that most perfumers either began or spent their careers developing functional fragrance products.

    That information was a real eye-opener. Ever since, I’ve been more sensitive in shopping for fragrances that do not resemble functional products. A very difficult task since the scent of such functional products have growned more varied and often, more sophisticated. After all, why pay $100 for a perfume that smells like your deodorant, right? Granted, if the scents match something you already wear, they actually become an inexpensive extension of your fragrance wardrobe.

    Yours is the most comprehensive article I’ve read so far, V., so thank you for posting this. March 15, 2011 at 11:37am Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: Come to think of it, maybe that is why deodorant was used when layering fragrances, as noted in your thread about fragrance combinations,a few days ago. March 15, 2011 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: Not to invade the conversation here, but the mention of Miss Dior segues into an update I wanted to share with you and others if I may.

    Much has been discussed about the sacrilege that has been visted upon the original formula-so much so that it doesn’t even smell anything like the original to me.( As stated earlier ,Revlon Intimate was created as a less expensive alternative to the original MD.)

    Long story short, I just purchased a bottle of Intimate,and it smells WAY more like the original Miss Dior,than the currently available Dior product. Great sillage and lots of priceless memories for only $10. March 15, 2011 at 12:31pm Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: I should have posted with the caveat that it smells like the vintage Miss Dior to MY nose.LOL…

    My sincerest wishes that you AND your nose won’t be disppointed. March 15, 2011 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: I found it on the Internet at one of the discount perfume outlets…forget the name off hand..but it isn’t difficult to obtain.

    Same with the crown top Coty L’Origan. March 15, 2011 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: I will never forget the first time I smelled an unscented hair conditioner base. It smells like sulfur, bordering on rotten onion.
    The technical skill of functional perfumers is really incredible. In my training, I learned some of these basics, but mostly just enough to know how hard it is to create a truly wonderful scent in detergents, body care, etc. 🙂 March 15, 2011 at 10:22am Reply

  • Victoria: I am so glad that you found it interesting. I think that this area of perfumery is fascinating, and the fact that it affects our lives far more than fine fragrance is interesting too.
    Plus, learning how hard this type of perfumery can be really made me appreciate the work of perfumers working in this area. Can you imagine what it takes to scent a depilatory cream or a self-tanner!!! March 15, 2011 at 10:29am Reply

  • Victoria: You are most welcome! I am very happy to give a small glimpse into this world. It’s really interesting to me personally. March 15, 2011 at 10:30am Reply

  • Victoria: The unscented products do include a complex that neutralizes the odor. So, they are not exactly scent-free. Also, if you try to layer a perfume over such a product, it will change the scent (sometimes even quite radically!)

    Downy fabric softener is one of my favorite scents too. I also love the scent of Nivea cream. To me, it is such a comfortable, comforting fragrance. March 15, 2011 at 10:34am Reply

  • Liam J Moore: Pretty much in the same boat as everyone else. I often over-look functional fragrance for the glamour and depth of fine-fragrance. Sometimes the simpler things are more enjoyable 😉 March 15, 2011 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: That’s normal, because fine fragrances are designed to be enjoyed solely for their scents, while in functional products, the scent has different roles.
    It is true, exploring simple things can be exciting too. March 15, 2011 at 10:59am Reply

  • Mandy Aftel: Having done work on both side of this, I really appreciate your article. I have found this work fascinating to do.

    When I was creating the fragrance for the soaps and hand sanitizers for Clean Well, the biggest design challenge was masking the very strong medicinal aroma of the most active ingredient. As a perfumer, I knew that this aroma would play a role in the final fragrance. I worked toward how to both mask and modulate it. I found this to be very different than the clean slate (creatively speaking) of my perfume creation and I enjoyed the problem solving aspect. March 15, 2011 at 11:24am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Mandy! It is interesting to read your perspective on this. I actually found those Clean Well hand sanitizers at my local Whole Foods, and I love them. The scents are beautiful, understated and yet convey a sense of freshness and cleanliness. Knowing how harsh those bases can be really made me appreciate the final product.

    Alcoholic perfumery has its own challenges, and they are so different from those in the functional perfumery. Both are fascinating to explore for me. March 15, 2011 at 11:50am Reply

  • Victoria: If fine fragrance perfumers are often in the shadows, the functional perfumers are definitely the unsung heroes. Unfortunately, due to the stringent confidentiality agreements, it is often impossible to share which perfumer created which functional product. Yet, their skill deserves some recognition. March 15, 2011 at 11:52am Reply

  • Victoria: The trickle down effect–using a famous luxury perfume idea for a functional product–is often used to convey a sense of luxury. So, even if most people will not consciously connect the scent of their car air freshener to Drakkar Noir, subconsciously they will perceive it as expensive and luxurious. Miss Dior, Shalimar, Tresor, Paris–these are very famous ideas used in functional perfumery. Miss Dior idea influenced functional perfumery just as it did fine fragrances. The accord was used quite widely in soaps and body washes! I still find it time to time in various European brand soaps.

    You’ve made a great observation–the functional perfumery has become very sophisticated over the past couple of decades. Even over the past 5-10 years, I see a huge difference in the availability of different scents. March 15, 2011 at 11:58am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, this is a great update! I will go definitely look for Intimate. I am glad to hear that it is closer to what Miss Dior used to be. The current state of Miss Dior is such a sad case study of reformulation…
    Thank you so much for sharing! March 15, 2011 at 12:33pm Reply

  • Victoria: Guerlain used to have very interesting ancillary products. I still have a 20 year Mitsouko soap, which smells incredible. It was a gift, so it has a rather sentimental value to me. For this reason, I have never used it.
    Mitsouko deodorant that Jean-Claude Ellena mentioned in his layering article is not something I have tried. Today I see very few body products at the Guerlain counter. March 15, 2011 at 12:35pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I love the picture. I love those French soaps, whether perfumed or just sort of olive and soapy smelling.
    Great post, and very informative.
    I tend to buy an organic/eco brand for my household cleaning and washing. The scents they use are less strong and don’t last as well. I wonder if the base they use for their detergents differs very much from the detergents used in non organic brands. I really have no idea. My fabric softener smells of lavender in a very subtle way. To reinforce the smell I always add a little lavender essential oil.
    To me the smell of clean comes very close to the smell of the original Marseille soap. My mum used a liquid version of something similar to wash the floors. March 15, 2011 at 5:17pm Reply

  • ScentScelf: Thank you for an interesting and informative piece. “Functional perfumery” is so interesting to me, not just for its role/function with “adornment” or “luxury” perfumery, but for cultural reasons (such as the geographic preferences you mention), but as a way of exploring how we go about sorting the idea of “function” or “craft” from “frivolous” or “art.”

    Market research frightens me a bit, as I think it leads to monotony, which potentially leads to a one-world one-choice mindset. At the very same time, I recognize that trends are interesting, and worth pursuing to a certain extent…but I can’t help but think it’s at the expense of minor expressions, in the same way peripheral languages are dropping from the planet.

    Which could all sound like a rather high-falutin’ wail and whimper, but I think has very practical implications for those who seek to be trendy and cutting edge. After all, if you run out of choices, there really is nowhere to go for inspiration for the next Something, except for fresh combinations. Which, to go back to the linguistic comparison, hearkens to doublespeak.

    Wah. I’m going to go smell me a bar of Ivory soap, and then take a hit of my lemon wood polish. 🙂 March 15, 2011 at 1:25pm Reply

  • ScentScelf: P.S. The comments provided gems, as they often do. It was interesting to see/hear Mandy Aftel’s thoughts on her adventures in functional fragrance.

    And I’ll be looking for Intimate as well. 😉 March 15, 2011 at 1:27pm Reply

  • Elisa: I know the soaps you mean! In the lime/mint version, the character of the thyme remains very present. March 15, 2011 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: No, it will not be! I’ve smelled Intimate before, I just did not revisit it recently. You’ve reminded me to explore it once again. March 15, 2011 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Victoria: You know, in this case I do not see market research as introducing the monotony. In fact, studying how people use products and what they want out of them can be enormously helpful. For instance, the consumer habit research is the reason why most dish washing liquids are now formulated with the food safe ingredients. In many developing countries, they are being used to wash vegetables!

    >>>I can’t help but think it’s at the expense of minor expressions, in the same way peripheral languages are dropping from the planet.
    Yet, I agree with your point, and this to me speaks to the commercial perfumery in general, not just functional. Until recently, in India and the Middle East, it has been common for women to blend their own scents, but these days, it is much easier just to buy a ready-made product.

    It is the same reason why some time consuming, complex dishes are disappearing from the culinary repertoires… March 15, 2011 at 4:49pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Thanks so much for this Victoria. I love thinking about all the places in perfume where art and commerce can’t be distinguished from one another–functional perfumery is definitely a fascinating one. You know, on the days when I am feeling ornery, if/when people complain to me that they hate perfume I sometimes point out that they are already wearing four or five perfumes if they have showered, washed their hair, put on some lotion, washed the dishes, etc. etc.

    On the other hand, I think functional perfumery is one of the biggest sources of scent memories for people outside of the kitchen. That whole “what smells like clean” question. But also–what smells like a baby? What smells like hair? Like a mother’s hands? And so on and so forth. I remember Grojsman saying, in Diane Ackerman’s “Natural History of the Senses” how proud she was to overhear a group of women saying how much they like the smell of a functional product she had scented. March 15, 2011 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, without a doubt, functional fragrances comprise a big part of our olfactive memories. I still remember vividly the strawberry scent of soap my mom used on me when I was a child as well as the apricot scented shampoo. And then the smell of Soviet “household soap,” a generic lump soap that was khaki colored and smelled rather leathery and harsh.

    In India, I was really surprised to discover bright red Lifebuoy soap as defining the idea of cleanliness. Its scent is so dramatic, brash, miles away from our Ivory and Irish Spring. 🙂 March 15, 2011 at 5:07pm Reply

  • ScentScelf: Indeed, sometimes the power of market research can be used for good, whether the “more satisfying” result is related to personal safety (non-toxic cleaners, more ergonomic tools) or intangible happiness (the green vegetable peeler says “clean” and therefore I felt better preparing my vegetables with it). But I still wonder about who gets final say on those decisions, and what the ulterior motives are–is the power being used for good or evil? Who is defining what is “good” and what is “evil”?

    BTW, I have been known to pick my dish soap because it is safe for vegetable cleaning. 😉 Though I am not entirely immune to the trouble Americans have trouble giving up their suds…

    I love the idea of blending your own scents; I remember you mentioning that custom before. And yes! clonk clink clonk{that sound you hear is my head nodding at the culinary implications of the same principle} March 15, 2011 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: That’s my idea of clean as well. My grandmother used a similar type of soap to wash the floors and linens. Plus, she airdried everything, so that smell of sundried linens is one of the most irresistible, evocative scents for me.

    Time to time, I buy organic dish washing soap, which is very subtly scented with citrus. I noticed that the base is very different. For one, it does not lather as readily as the big brand product. March 15, 2011 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Victoria: Whenever something is commercial, the motive is always the profit. What remains is whether we have more advantages than costs in the end.

    I have an interesting book about the custom blending of fragrances in the United Arab Emirates. It was a dissertation published in the 1970s, and it traced the role of scent in defining women’s relationships and social standing. Absolutely fascinating! March 15, 2011 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: I always dry my linens outdoors when weather permits.(I still remember my grandmother frantically gathering clothes off the line when an unexpected shower popped up!)

    Speaking of domestic duties,I fell in love with a product called Fabuloso Blue. It is a liquid cleaner,rather like a pine oil.

    Whoever devised the fragrance formula for that one must have been familiar with Lauder’s Azuree. To me,smells just like it.Heavenly on a hot day! March 15, 2011 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Laura Matheson: This is a very interesting and relevant article, and very well written as always. But I can’t help but be worried to imagine that all these further fragrance chemicals are added to mask an already highly toxic base product. Indeed it must be a super-challenge to achieve a pleasant smelling outcome but how much nicer is it to use naturally based and perfumed products. Already luxurious and pleasant on their own they are then enhanced with further beauty in the form of essential oils, resins and absolutes. In my opinion, there is just no comparison. March 15, 2011 at 10:00pm Reply

  • key change: Oh wow, what a great read; thanks for posting this. The others have all already said what I think, but I just thought I’d let you know that you are a very accessible writer–the world of perfumery is extremely complex, but you manage to somehow convey your message to such a wide audience here.
    Oh, and I have to agree with you about the scent of Nivia cream/lotion…very homey and comforting. I remember being so disappointed when Herbal Essences discontinued their original line (the one with only the one apple-esque scent). For ages, I tried to find a perfume that most closely resembled it (I did eventually find the closest match–that being Bath and Body Work’s Green apple Christmas time scent!). March 15, 2011 at 10:24pm Reply

  • k-amber: Wonderful review and information, as always! I didn’t know functional perfumery plays a major roll with “with pitifully small budget”. I noticed scented products, say, detergents are getting stronger and stronger, even to the headache-inducing level these days. Now I know very skilled people are behind those products!

    Kaori March 15, 2011 at 9:40pm Reply

  • dee: Informative and interesting, from top notes to base! Thank you for the insider’s peek : ) March 16, 2011 at 1:24am Reply

  • Austenfan: I dry my washing on a line. I don’t even own a tumble dryer. The smellof fresh laundry is unbeatable. March 16, 2011 at 7:57am Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: I don’t know if there are Big Lots in your location,but try them.

    The Dollar General chain,which is pretty extensive, carries it,also.

    Ofcourse, there is always der Google ,LOL. March 16, 2011 at 1:00pm Reply

  • Gitcheegumee: As someone who endured Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I can appreciate in an up close and personal way what the losss of creature comforts ,ones we take for granted,is like.As well, as the irreplaceable loss of loved ones.

    The element of frigid weather adds insult to injury,however.

    My thoughts ,as those of many others, are with you and yours-and all who have experienced these life altering experiences. March 16, 2011 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: In my idyllic life, that’s exactly what I do! 🙂 In my real life, the drier it is.
    My grandmother would even starch her linens, which gave them such a delicious crisp feeling. March 16, 2011 at 10:15am Reply

  • Victoria: Now I am actually inspired to do some household chores, if I can find this Fabuloso Blue! 🙂 March 16, 2011 at 10:16am Reply

  • Victoria: It is true, the scents are getting stronger. I’ve noticed it as well. I think that it is partially has to do with the way people do laundry and how much of water and product they use. Also, everyone wants a longer lasting scent. I cannot stand overly strong detergents. While I like a subtle lingering scent, anything stronger is too much for me.

    And I just wanted to say that I am thinking of you daily! March 16, 2011 at 10:20am Reply

  • Victoria: The product bases are generally not toxic. Strong, unpleasant smells do not necessarily mean that their source is bad for our health. However, it is still the area, to which pay attention. For instance, the switch from a certain type of synthetic musks came when research discovered that they can accumulate in tissues.
    Although the question of perfume and safety is usually structured in terms of fine fragrances, we get exposed to more fragrance via our household products than via any fine fragrance. March 16, 2011 at 10:23am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for your comment, I am very happy that I could make this topic accessible. This question interested me, because I find that this form of perfumery is so common in our lives. We are exposed to it constantly in different forms, so I wanted to understand what makes it so different from fine fragrance.

    For me, the scent of Herbal Essences will always be associated with my high school years in the US, when I first came here! Somewhat bittersweet time, but overall, many good memories. 🙂 March 16, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • Victoria: D, it’s my pleasure! I like to take you all into this world as much as I can. 🙂 March 16, 2011 at 10:34am Reply

  • k-amber: Dear Victoria,
    Thank you for your warm and touching messages. I am OK, and people in Tokyo have still have several aftershocks and scheduled blackout, due to power shortage, a few hours a day. My area is luckily excluded. Please pray for those suffering this tremendous disaster, with little food, water, heat in the snow. We appreciate that many countries have sent rescue teams..

    Your reviews give me spirits a lift 🙂
    Kaori March 16, 2011 at 11:20am Reply

  • Victoria: If I can do anything to lift your spirits at this time, I already feel better. You and those who are suffering from the aftermath of the disaster are in my mind. Plus, all of this is so poignant for me on many different levels. March 16, 2011 at 2:16pm Reply

  • Laura Matheson: As well as beauty products including handwashes, shampoos, conditioners, etc., I was referring to cleaning products that do use toxic chemicals to formulate their cleansing base. Without the addition of fragrance to make them tolerable to the human nose, no one could stand to smell it since it’s blatantly offensive and that’s the body’s way of keeping us safe. When we mask a toxic smell, it seems to me that we are potentially harming ourselves since our nose has been tricked into thinking the same toxic product is now pleasant and in this day and age use them in ever-increasing applications. March 17, 2011 at 2:37am Reply

  • Victoria: Der Google it will be for me! 🙂 March 16, 2011 at 10:51pm Reply

  • k-amber: Thank you for your thoughtful message. There is not much one can say at a time like this, but we are not alone, are connected.

    Kaori March 16, 2011 at 11:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: This does not necessarily follow. Bad smell does not necessarily mean toxic or harmful. Some of the extremely poisonous materials smell very good. Sweet almond smelling cyanide is a good example. Mustard gas smells halfway between lilacs and mustard. Diphosgene smells like anise. I could go on and on. March 17, 2011 at 2:34pm Reply

    • Diz Pareunia: It not necessarily follow, but it may follow, and the principle is worth keeping in mind. May 4, 2012 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Mandy Aftel: Thank you Victoria and Elisa.

    I was grateful that Clean Well was/is the kind of company that allowed me great artistic freedom to both create the scents and use expensive essences. March 17, 2011 at 6:04pm Reply

  • Laura Matheson: Obviously, you know a hell of a lot more about this area than I do however I stand by my belief that with the amount of toxic chemicals (listed as such on the labels themselves) in cleaning products that we inhale on a daily basis (myself not included since I greatly limit my own personal exposure to these wherever possible and simply use the elbow grease method in most cases)cannot be good to inhale and the addition of masking fragrances makes them appear safer than they really are. March 17, 2011 at 10:43pm Reply

  • Stella: This was a very interesting article. Thanks! I especially appreciated the “masking unpleasant odor” part as I reminisced about my mother telling me to pair fatty pork with ginger to mask the “pork animal smell” as she called it. I love you blog! August 9, 2012 at 7:12pm Reply

  • Monica: A great article. It shows how much we under appreciate the art and chemistry that requires in so many day to day things. April 1, 2015 at 12:34pm Reply

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  • Victoria in Coffee and Flowers: I completely forgot about this perfume. It’s excellent. Thank you for reminding me about it. June 18, 2024 at 7:03am

  • Andrea SD in Coffee and Flowers: A*Men by Thierry Mugler has a really pronounced Arabica / Espresso note. A proper lift-me-up. June 18, 2024 at 6:02am

  • Victoria in Coffee and Flowers: What a great description! June 18, 2024 at 4:30am

  • Judith Attar in Coffee and Flowers: I always thought that Margiela Untitled smelled of coffee and shampoo, ie a London bus in morning rush hour. June 18, 2024 at 4:28am

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