The untold truth of perfume


There’s something very mysterious about perfume. Unlike anything else, it’s the only thing we wear that is invisible, it’s unique on everyone, and most of the time we have very little understanding of the ingredients.

I asked several fragrance industry insiders to spill their secrets about what is really in perfume, how to choose right scent, why that fragrance smells so good on your friend, but not quite so delightful on you, and so much more. You will never wonder what you are spritzing on again.

Many fragrances consist of natural ingredients

Founded in 1981 by former pianist and fashion model, Annick Goutal, the namesake brand is still one of the most important names in the high-end luxury fragrance market today.

Still a family-run business, daughter of Annick Goutal, Camille Goutal, is the in-house perfumer for the brand. She revealed that flowers are one of the most important ingredients the company uses in their fragrances.

“Flowers in fragrance have a very long history. They are so beautiful, feminine, and sexy and therefore that translates to the scent itself,” she told me. “Flowers will always intrigue and fascinate both men and women. When women wear fragrances made of flowers, some say they feel a special connection with nature.”

Some fragrances have synthetic ingredients

Goutal told me that the brand has always been fond of natural ingredients, and they are the main components of their fragrances, but going 100 percent natural isn’t always possible. She revealed there are many reasons behind this. “Many fragrances do consist of natural ingredients, but it’s not the case in general. Due to the cost of natural ingredients, most brands can’t afford them.”

But it is not just a matter of economics. For some specific scents, using natural ingredients all of the time is simply too difficult. “Natural ingredients are beautiful and complex, but not the easiest to formulate. I don’t favor one over the other in terms of synthetic versus natural. Synthetic ingredients are great and offer multiple possibilities when natural ones can’t. For example, you can’t extract the scent of peach or coconut naturally, and that’s when synthetic ingredients take over the natural ones.”

Another reason manufacturers use synthetic ingredients is sourcing some natural ones take too large a toll on the environment. Eric Korman, who is the founder and CEO of Hanami by Phlur told me, “We do not use real sandalwood, as this would ecologically irresponsible. Instead, we use a raw material safely created in a lab that replicates the essence of sandalwood and we donate $5 for every bottle sold to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.”

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