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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Washington, DC

    Default Natural v. Synthetic

    How many of you have seen the movie "Perfume?" Sorry to say, I have...interesting and great concept...poor execution. But it got me thinking yesterday about the nature of ingredients. In the movie, Dustin Hoffman shows the lil' man how to distill certain things to get out their essential oils, and later (through killing...and lard) how to extract oils through, well, lard, or something. Now, I don't know when this turnabout was, I'm going to assume that a large, if not all, percentage of the ingredients in my cologne has been artificially produced, and is therefore synthetic. I smell long notes of cinnamon, read the label and see "cinnamol" or something of the like.

    So my questions to all you helpful folks: Are there any frag houses out there that still use natural ingredients?

    Are you able to tell the difference between natural and synthetic?

    Thanks so much, this board has been a huge help already.

    Feel free to ignore this...some very similar threads exist. But post answers if you wish, haha.
    Last edited by AlexChesbro; 30th November 2007 at 02:44 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  2. #2

    Default Stiring the pot...

    Natural vs. Synthetic is a touchy subject...which has raised lots of argument. If you want to read about the flame...take a look at Luca Turin's old blog, or Perfume of Life's forum.

    All I will say, is that synthetics are a very important part of perfumery. Guerlain's Jicky claims to be the first to incorporate synthetics into a perfume, although I believe Houbigant released something prior to it containing coumarin. Anyway, yes, some can pick out synthetic notes, and allegedly many "natural" perfumes in fact aren't really all that natural.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Natural v. Synthetic

    On the one wrist, without synthetics there wouldn't be any modern classics to enjoy and on the other wrist there is the case for toxicity from repeated exposure to petroleum based aroma chemicals and synthetic musks. And then there's your liver. Welcome to the modern world!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Natural v. Synthetic

    Most perfumes are made with a combination of natural and synthetic materials, heavily weighted toward synthetic.

    Some niche perfumers use a higher percentage of natural materials than do the mainstream houses. A few niche perfumers (Ayala Moriel Perfumes is one) use only natural materials. Some - like Creed - claim to use only naturals and I don't believe them (there are certain effects that can't be achieved with naturals, like that azure-blue, so-called 'aquatic' note).

  5. #5

    Default Re: Natural v. Synthetic

    Natural ingredients leads to differences bottle to bottle. This is especially true with Creed. This has to do with age and the natural ingredients from a particular harvest year. I've found these differences between bottles of Neroli Sauvage, Millesime Imperial, Selection Verte, Erolfa, Green Irish Tweed, Bois du Portugal, Silver Mountain Water, and even Acier Aluminium.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Natural v. Synthetic

    Almost all designer fragrances from department stores are entirely or almost entirely synthetic (simply because you can't mass market a complex natural perfume due to production constraints and batch variability).

    But certain fragrances houses use a lot of natural material. Parfums de Nicolai uses about 50% natural oils in most of her fragrances (and you can really tell the difference). Creed uses a large quantity of naturals, but also uses synthetics of course (though they tend to stay away from the harsher synthetic molecules).

    Many of the niche fragrances sold at expensive places like Luckyscent have a lot of natural oils in them (Mazzolari, Andy Tauer Perfumes, Divine, Keiko Mecheri, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, etc.)

    And some very talented perfumers are making perfumes exclusively with natural oils, like Ayala Moriel (as someone already mentioned). Her leather fragrance "Espionage" is superb.

    Honestly, I don't have anything against synthetics in general, but the department store fragrances make me feel gross when I smell them for too long. I'm not a "natural purist", but I can't ignore the fact that most of the synthetic frags out there make my nose complain.
    Last edited by Maxwell; 30th November 2007 at 05:13 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Natural v. Synthetic

    Natural - Well they smell more natural and well rounded in many cases. Then there is the prestige (or snob) factor of using all or high percentage of natural ingredients.

    Synthetic - There are some natural fragrances notes which can no longer be had at any cost due to laws to protect animals or toxic concerns for the people who use them. There are some fragrance notes which have no natural counterpart, they are only synthetic. Usually synthetics last longer both in terms of shelf life and longevity on the skin. Lower cost of materials.

    In the end I really judge a fragrance on how it smells and worry less about how the effect is achieved. OK, I don't want any animals to suffer so that I can have my fragrance so that is important to me too.
    In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane - Oscar Wilde

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