Part 2 of 4

Natural Fragrance: trading on exclusivity and purity

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

fragrance expert Lisa Wilson, principal at Scent&Strategy
fragrance expert Lisa Wilson, principal at Scent&Strategy
Ingredients used to formulate natural perfumes and scented personal care products differ from conventional ingredients, and this presents a challenge for brands. At the same time it’s an opportunity to develop and sell uniquely valuable product.

In this, the second in a four-part series on natural fragrance, Cosmetics Design gets the scoop from fragrance expert Lisa Wilson, principal at Scent&Strategy, on how developing products with natural fragrance ingredients requires careful attention and the role purity and exclusivity can play in marketing fragrance products.

Lisa Wilson: “All- natural fragrances can be challenging to solubilize in natural product applications, particularly in water based ones. It is only recently that all-natural surfactants have become available to perfumers and cosmetic chemists.”

As a consultant, Wilson follows best practices that expedite successful fragrance development.

Lisa Wilson: “The key is to partner with fragrance houses, contract manufacturers and formulators who specialize in naturals and to be sure there is good communication at the beginning of—and throughout—a project.

“I like to request base ingredient listings for perfumery, for example, so we can identify any red flags up front—and make adjustments accordingly. I often work as a facilitator for this critical process.”

Ingredient price is a key consideration when creating naturally fragranced products.

Lisa Wilson: “It’s important to have a realistic understanding of the cost implications of naturals as they are generally more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. But of course it depends on the fragrance, the cost differential isn’t necessarily astronomical, especially when isolates are used.” 

Sourcing limitations and small-batch blending methods mean that many natural fragrances are in short supply compared to conventional perfumes.

Lisa Wilson: The story behind a fragrance, specifically a natural perfume, is often about the exclusivity, luxury and rarity of the ingredients.   

To illustrate, she shares a couple quick case studies.

Lisa Wilson: “True Nature Botanicals, a northern-California-based all-natural anti-aging skin care, hair and body and fine fragrance company uses 100% natural  ‘noble materials’—known to be the purest and most precious in the world—in their natural solid perfumes….The company celebrates the fact that ‘no two solid perfumes will ever smell or look exactly the same because no two roses are ever perfectly identical in nature.’ The storytelling aspect here is compelling, as the perfumer who created the fragrances talks about the joy of working without price restrictions and being able to choose the best quality materials for her formulas, much like old world perfume creation for royalty…the very essence of luxury. 

“Botanical perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis of Strange Invisible Perfumes (another California-based company, this one in SoCal) formulates each of her original natural fragrances with certified organic, wild-crafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled essences. Limited batches are then hand-blended, set into a base of custom-distilled alcohol that she refers to as esprit de Cognac and aged for a minimum of six months.”

Fragrance making is more nuanced than ever, thanks to naturals.

Lisa Wilson: “This reverent attention to carefully cultivated, rare natural ingredients and utilization of small batch methods takes a page from the artisanal food and craft alcohol movements —we’ve gone from macro to micro. 

“Perfume has been compared to wine for centuries; now the correlation is stronger than ever because we can talk about terroir with natural perfume ingredients—and it means something to the prestige consumer.”

Up next

In tomorrow’s instalment of this four-part series on natural fragrance, Cosmetics Design talks with Wilson about creating quality natural fragrances on a large, commercially viable scale.

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