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  1. #1

    Default Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    My humble and beginner's take:

    This has been the hot topic since the public has become more and more educated in fragrance formulation over the past decade. I have spent hundreds of hours in perfumeries and sharing my passion for perfumery to strangers, and it still shocks people to know that there are synthetic raw materials in fragrances.

    I have wandered into the battlefields of natural vs. synthetic perfumery discussions, and reading /hearing the discussions makes my head turn.

    Here are my sentiments about synthetic and natural raw materials: I am passionate about synthetic raw materials and I am passionate about natural raw materials. I love both of them so much that I cannot say I love one more than the other simply because there is an important place for both in perfumery. If a brief calls me to make an all natural fragrance, I am happy to be part of this project. If a brief calls me to make a fragrance without using any naturals, I am equally happy to be part of this project. The perfumery that I enjoy comes from the synergy of both synthetic and natural raw materials.

    I see perfumery as an art though I know people who do not believe in this, but it is the closest analogy that I could connect perfumery to. All raw materials are paint colors for the painter of scents. There is utter beauty in natural raw materials that synthetic raw materials cannot replace. There is something magical about rose and jasmine absolutes (in fact any natural oil, resin, absolute, etc.) that synthetics cannot replace. Synthetics cannot come near to create the same exact, natural effect of iris, sandalwood, patchouli, mimosa, davana, taget, osmanthus, immortelle, etc. Good citrus oils are amazing and it gives the last line of naturalness in a fine fragrance today.

    At the same time there are so many things that natural raw materials cannot do that synthetics can. You cannot create some of the beautiful olfactive effects like liffarome, ethyl linalol, hedione, damascones/damascenones (synthetic but nature occuring), ionones (some natural occuring as well), helional, galbex, cassis base, magnolan, boisambrene, lilial/lyral/hydroxy/florol/floralhyral/bourgeonal/cyclamenald, iso e super, musks, and the other thousands of synthetic raw materials out there.

    I had written before about jasmine. In perfumery, jasmine grandiflorum and jasmine sambac are two widely used jasmine absolutes. But perfumery becomes a lot more interesting and artistic when you can modify and twist and add to these absolutes. You can take jasmine sambac which is more indolic naturally and make it more animalic by adding more synthetic indole and some raw materials from the cresy/o/l family and then make it more fruity by adding more benzyl acetate and some C14 for a touch of peach. Then you can take this accord and add a bit of fruity greenness with cis 3 hexenyl acetate. Then you can add some more floralcy with some linalol or twist it with ethyl linalol.

    You can make an effect of jasmine from simply benzyl acetate (the principal raw material in natural jasmine but produced synthetically), benzyl acetate + methyl benzoate, benzyl acetate + indole, benzyl acetate + jasmonal H + indole, benzyl acetate + hedione + jasmonal H + indole, benzyl acetate + hedione, benzyl acetate + cis jasmone + indole, jasmonal H + cis jasmone, jasmonal H + ylang extra, benzyl acetate + jasmine abs egypt, hedione + jasmine abs egypt, benzyl acetate + jasmonal h + cis jasmone + jasmolactone, jessemal, jasmal, and other jasmine synthetics. You can almost make an infinite number of fantasy jasmines.

    And this becomes artistry. With a complete palette of both naturals and synthetics and creativity, you can create magnificent olfactive effects that cannot be done with naturals alone. You can create the effect of cold, the effect of dryness, the effect of muskiness, the effect of water, etc. from the wonderful synthetics that exist.

    The choice of his colors is in the hands of the perfumer. I respect the natural perfumer, and I respect the hybrid perfumer. I care about nature and I care about public health, but I choose to be the latter.

    I do not want to copy nature, but find new interpretations of it. When synthetics and naturals are used in perfect harmony, perfumery becomes absolutely beautiful (I believe that Christopher Sheldrake is one of the best perfumers who has the best control of naturals and synthetics together).
    Last edited by scentophile; 10th February 2009 at 07:08 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    I'm following an advanced course in Organic Chemistry at the uni at the moment, and I'm a big proponent for synthetic ingredients. Long live technology. When used wisely and if the selected synthetic ingredients have the right effect, they have the great advantage of broadening the perfumer's palette.

    Moreso, synthetic components can make naturally extracted ingredients smell *more natural* to the wearer than natural ingredients alone can do so. And this is a fact that most people ignore. It's all about the effect and end product.

    There's a great difference between using synthetic aromachemicals and creating a synthetic smelling fragrance. Hell, you can even create synthetic smelling fragrances by using natural ingredients alone.
    Last edited by Stereotomy; 8th February 2009 at 08:57 PM.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Wonderful post, thanks.

    I understand fully what you are saying. While I favour "natural smelling things", I have no problem with synthetics when used because they are the best material for the job. I do have a problem with synthetics when they are used because they are cheaper than the natural that the company used to use and smell "nearly as good". Or when they are just cheap, nasty and chemical smelling.

    Much of the designer stuff produced these days interests me only briefly -the composition may be competent or good and thus engaging for a minute ot two but pretty soon I smell past this into the materials - and they are usually poor and synthetic smelling.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    The natural vs synthetic debate is probably one of the stupidest raging debates in perfumery at the moment.

    To me, someone who is only passionate about synthetics or about naturals, to quote Luca Turin, is like someone who is trying to build a human and says:

    "I only like flesh, not bones" or vice versa.

    Thing is, just like in the pharmaceutical industry, you need both and both contributes.

    Note: Also a former Org chem student here.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Wonderful post, scentophile. I wish that everyone who loves fragrance could read what you have to say. I feel just like you - I'm passionate about fragrance, and passionate about the art and science of its creation. I'm passionate about the beautiful and balanced complexity of naturals, and I'm passionate about the molecularly pure, almost spiritual otherworldliness of synthetics. Brought together under the controlling genius of the perfumer, new art emerges from higher thought. Or the perfumer can accept the challenge of a smaller palette, one way or the other, and still create beauty. It's all good.
    * * * *

  6. #6

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Thank you for that, Scentophile! I enjoy reading your posts. I'm currently reading Chandler Burr's A Perfect Scent (finally!), in which he describes his time observing JC Ellena and his creative process in working with synthetics and naturals as you do - a painter with an extended palette that he/she would otherwise not have if not for the synthetics. What artist wouldn't want as rich and vast a palette as possible? From a personal/consumer's point of view -- I'm learning to have nothing against synthetics. I am now aware that most of the fragrances I enjoy are almost purely synthetic. I am learning that it is the creator's artistry in putting these materials together that makes a great perfume. I am also beginning to explore some of the niche fragrances that are made (they claim) with 100% naturals. Many of them are lovely, but they are very short lived, unfortunately. And there are fragrances that give me the impression of an earthy naturalness, but of course they are composed of synthetics. It is wizardry really. Some fragrances (sometimes very expensive ones) have a roughness to them - which truly rasps at my throat - that I refer to as a "synthetic" quality because I find them harsh, but that is merely a label born of my own ignorance. I grew up appreciating the fragrances of the natural world around me, so it is "naturalness" or an impression of those things from nature that I habitually find favor with. But I am beginning to learn to appreciate synthetics and what they can do, the more I learn about how fragrances are constructed. "Synthetic" shouldn't be a dirty word. And the more people like you inform the rest of us, the better for perfumery.
    Last edited by lilybelle; 9th February 2009 at 04:33 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    I think with time when most if not all molecules can be synthesized, there will be no or little difference between natural and synthetic? only that most of the researchers are more interested in total synthesis of drugs.

    I hate organic to the core. My total synthesis course always gives me headache especially retro-synthetic analysis and asymmetric synthesis

  8. #8

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    Wonderful post, thanks.

    I understand fully what you are saying. While I favour "natural smelling things", I have no problem with synthetics when used because they are the best material for the job. I do have a problem with synthetics when they are used because they are cheaper than the natural that the company used to use and smell "nearly as good". Or when they are just cheap, nasty and chemical smelling.

    Much of the designer stuff produced these days interests me only briefly -the composition may be competent or good and thus engaging for a minute ot two but pretty soon I smell past this into the materials - and they are usually poor and synthetic smelling.
    Exactly my thoughts. And a wonderful post indeed
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    Wonderful post, thanks.

    I understand fully what you are saying. While I favour "natural smelling things", I have no problem with synthetics when used because they are the best material for the job. I do have a problem with synthetics when they are used because they are cheaper than the natural that the company used to use and smell "nearly as good". Or when they are just cheap, nasty and chemical smelling.

    Much of the designer stuff produced these days interests me only briefly -the composition may be competent or good and thus engaging for a minute ot two but pretty soon I smell past this into the materials - and they are usually poor and synthetic smelling.
    I think you've hit the nail on the head. When commercial interests override the artists themselves, even Mona Lisa can be turned into Velvet Lisa. I probably have a higher tolerance for synthetic smells than you do, but I think we all have our limits.
    * * * *

  10. #10

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    So, we've discussed artistry, but we haven't discussed safety.
    There seems to be a disconnect between "irritant/allergen" and "mutagen/carcinogen" when discussing natural and synthetic substances.
    The usual debate goes as follows:

    1. Naturals can provoke irritation or allergies because they contain so many potential sentisizers, and chemicals can be modified to exclude the offending molecules. Yet, does safety testing keep up with the pace of new molecule creation? (For example, hair dyes.)

    2. On the other hand, are the physical systems of the human body better adapted to deal with long-term exposure to natural substances better than to synthetics? (For example, artificial flavors derived from non-edible sources rather than from food.)

    Any thoughts on those matters?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Well, I have heard the same argument about synthetics provoking allergic symptoms because of the many potential artificial sensitizers.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    My Wardrobe
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Fabulous post!!!
    I am not biased toward either synthetics or naturals, I feel each are equally important. I think the end result should just smell nice; like many classic Guerlain scents, and Caron. When an artist is at the helm, perfection can be achieved, regardless of the materials.
    I also concur that nothing can give the same impression as some naturals, i.e. rose, jasmin, or the always vilified civet, castoreum, and other animalic materials...and the now "verboten" birch-tar, and oakmoss.
    Truly a wonderfully informative post, that hopefully will broaden some opinions.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by aromagal View Post
    Well, I have heard the same argument about synthetics provoking allergic symptoms because of the many potential artificial sensitizers.
    Of course! Molecules are molecules: both natural *and* man-made aromachemicals can cause allergic reactions.

    It's just that there are so many claims, especially from 'all-natural perfumers' that their 'natural' product is so much healthier because it's 'natural'.

    Heavily concentrated natural essential oil can burn through your skin, natural snake poison (organically harvested ) can give a seriously allergic reaction from most people.

    'Natural' does not equal healthier. It depends on the substance.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    The following questions are purely rhetorical and not intended to provoke discord:

    With both perfume and cuisine, people hold strong opinions on the quality (gustatory or olfactive) and the healthfulness of the ingredients.

    1. If you could choose, would you eat natural foods over processed foods? Why? Because of better taste, healthfulness, or both?

    2. Would you make the same decision in regard to wearing perfumes? Why? Because of better aroma, healthfulness, or both?

    I think the comparison is apt because both both eating and wearing on the skin are methods of absorbing a substance into the body--even the oral route is faster and more effective.

    Personally, I believe that natural foods are better for my health. I tend to believe the same about fragrances. However, I also choose to eat many processed foods because they simply taste fabulous. Therefore, I willingly take what I believe may be a risk to enjoy these products.

    Strangely enough, I feel that it is more publicly acceptable to say that I believe natural foods are safer than processed foods than it is to say that natural aromatic substances are safer than aromachemicals--or that herbal medicine is safer than pharmaceuticals. I don't know why this is so, perhaps because of popularity or trends. At one time, natural food advocates were considered odd.

    It seems ironic that the IFRA ardently tries to remove natural ingredients from perfumery while the grocery stores just as ardently stock natural foods for our cuisine.

    It has been stated that "a molecue is a molecule" and the origin of the molecule does not matter as long as the structure is the same. Yet, as living beings, we have not yet used these substances (either synthetic or natural) to the point where we can declare them to be safe. Testing is a difficult, time-consuming process which can be questionable in its ethics (as with animal testing) or dubious in its results.

    Perhaps it will all boil down to making decisions on a case-by-case basis. I mean, we don't use willow bark when we have a headache. We use aspirin. After years of use, it is generally accepted as safe when used as directed. In that regard, I guess the optimal situation for me would be to know (via complete labeling) what is in my food or in my fragrance. And then I could make an informed decision.
    Last edited by purplebird7; 12th February 2009 at 02:57 AM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Great link, TGL. I need to check that site out more often.

    I agree, Purplebird - I like both natural and processed foods, neither to the exclusion of the other. It's quite analogous to natural and synthetic fragrance components. Each has its strengths, each its weaknesses. The more we know, the more we will be able to safely enjoy both.
    * * * *

  17. #17

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    It has been stated that "a molecue is a molecule" and the origin of the molecule does not matter as long as the structure is the same. Yet, as living beings, we have not yet used these substances (either synthetic or natural) to the point where we can declare them to be safe. Testing is a difficult, time-consuming process which can be questionable in its ethics (as with animal testing) or dubious in its results.

    Perhaps it will all boil down to making decisions on a case-by-case basis. I mean, we don't use willow bark when we have a headache. We use aspirin. After years of use, it is generally accepted as safe when used as directed. In that regard, I guess the optimal situation for me would be to know (via complete labeling) what is in my food or in my fragrance. And then I could make an informed decision.
    Re point 1 from what I quoted, errr, yes a molecule is a molecule.

    I have remarked on other threads that I only ever spray perfumes on fabric and I really dislike applying it on my skin due to my org chem background. But the reason for my doing this applies and I will do this whether I'm wearing a 100% natural perfume or 100% synthetic perfume.

    In fact as you point out willow bark is much more natural and much worse than aspirin. Willow barks are less effective than pure aspirin, and it actually irritates the stomach lining much more than aspirin.
    ============
    The next pro-naturals person who says naturals are better because it's safer, I will pour something that contains all-natural with-bergaptene bergamot oil all over them while they go out in the sun... and see if they scream in the process. :P
    Last edited by GourmandHomme; 12th February 2009 at 11:27 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    I'm not going to say all natural fragrances are quantitatively better or safer, but from my experience, they are much much much easier on the sinuses. I've never once had a burning nose or throat, twitchy eye, headache etc. from an all natural fragrance while have experienced those symptoms from many primarily synthetic fragrances.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    I wish that fragrance labels would include ALL ingredients (natural and synthetic), not merely "fragrance" plus a minimal list of chemicals that are suspected to induce allergy. That way, I could clearly see what is in the product I am using. And, I wish that list would be similar to those put on foods--shown in descending order of total percent.
    But wait, there are too many ingredients.
    How about a Percent Natural number on the label?
    Last edited by purplebird7; 12th February 2009 at 02:38 PM.

  20. #20

    Smile Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    The following questions are purely rhetorical and not intended to provoke discord:

    With both perfume and cuisine, people hold strong opinions on the quality (gustatory or olfactive) and the healthfulness of the ingredients.

    1. If you could choose, would you eat natural foods over processed foods? Why? Because of better taste, healthfulness, or both?
    Wait, this is not a valid comparison to perfumery because of the digestion tract. Your body needs food to survive, but having aromachemicals in your blood is unnecessary and needs to be broken down or removed out of your body by sweat, urine or feces. This holds for natural and synthetic aromachemicals.

    Natural foods, compared to similar processed foods, are more complex and contain more food fibers that aid digestions. They are healthier. White rice vs brown rice for example: white rice contains a LOT less vitamin B (because the skin where the vitamin resides has been shredded) and a lot less food fibers.

    Same with white bread and wholewheat bread. Eating white bread is like eating simple sugars - your body does not need to do much to digest it.

    2. Would you make the same decision in regard to wearing perfumes? Why? Because of better aroma, healthfulness, or both?
    Natural perfumes can smell good, and you can use synthetics to make it smell even better. Natural stuff can be harmful to your body (see the willow bark example) while processed stuff (they make aspirin out of the salicyl acid precursor of the willow bark) can be easier on your stomach.

    I think the comparison is apt because both both eating and wearing on the skin are methods of absorbing a substance into the body--even the oral route is faster and more effective.
    Not entirely, because your body *needs* food to survive, and therefore foods can be healthy and unhealthy. Your body does not need fragrances, so this cannot be labeled healthy - only not harmful and harmful.

    Eating natural foods will give your body more complex nutrients, more vitamins to digest. Spraying on natural *or* synthetic aromachemicals just gives your body stuff to break down or te remove, both can be harmful or unharmful, as the examples of natural willow bark or natural snake poison shows.
    Last edited by Stereotomy; 12th February 2009 at 02:37 PM.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    In that regard, it might actually be best to spray one's clothing instead of one's skin, regardless of natural or synthetic if safety is the overriding concern.
    Last edited by purplebird7; 12th February 2009 at 02:41 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Oh and I like my Big Mac with a white bun and processed cheddar cheese, too.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereotomy View Post
    ...'Natural' does not equal healthier. It depends on the substance.
    So true. As you pointed out, high concentrations of natural products can be harmful. When it comes to food and skin/hair care, the prevailing attitude is that natural may be better because there may be yet undiscovered benefits in the ingredients that we can use. However, I have had more problems with natural skin/hair care products than the synthetics (food, I'm OK with). The problem for me is that even mainstream products today carry "natural" items that are irritating to my skin or hair. Here, we are talking about fragrances and I think the same applies. Personally, I prefer naturals because of the depth of the fragrance. To me there is just "more" than with a synthetic. But sometimes a synthetic can be just as good, less irritating, and more affordable than a natural. Synthetics, while lacking the depth of a natural (IMO), provide consistency too - an important factor in fragrance. Sometimes I don't want the scent to change for whatever reason. I guess the long and the short of it is I see benefits to both!

  24. #24

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    That is absolutely true. Naturally extracted vanilla contains not only the main ingredient Vanillin (that can also be synthesized), but numerous other trace elements that make vanilla vanilla.

    Vanillin is a very good (synthetic) approach to the vanilla scent, but will lack depth.

    Compare a real grand piano to a great sounding synthesizer keyboard: the natural one will sound better probably, but the synthesizer might achieve a very high quality and is much cheaper to produce.
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  25. #25

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereotomy View Post
    That is absolutely true. Naturally extracted vanilla contains not only the main ingredient Vanillin (that can also be synthesized), but numerous other trace elements that make vanilla vanilla.

    Vanillin is a very good (synthetic) approach to the vanilla scent, but will lack depth.

    Compare a real grand piano to a great sounding synthesizer keyboard: the natural one will sound better probably, but the synthesizer might achieve a very high quality and is much cheaper to produce.
    Don't forget the fact that natural vanillin also discolors and stains.... synthetic ethylvanillin smells even more vanilla-like and less reactive with clothes/other ingredients.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereotomy View Post
    Compare a real grand piano to a great sounding synthesizer keyboard: the natural one will sound better probably, but the synthesizer might achieve a very high quality and is much cheaper to produce.
    I have both.
    I prefer playing the Big Wooden Beast.
    However, the synthesizer is great for making techno, which the piano can't do, and I compose techno music, so I love my synths as much as my piano, only in a different way,
    And, actually, it is the impurity of the sounds frome the piano that makes the real instrument so beautiful.
    Last edited by purplebird7; 12th February 2009 at 10:27 PM.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    I have both.
    I prefer playing the Big Wooden Beast.
    However, the synthesizer is great for making techno, which the piano can't do, and I compose techno music, so I love my synths as much as my piano, only in a different way,
    And, actually, it is the impurity of the sounds frome the piano that makes the real instrument so beautiful.
    I think this shows how great of an analogy this is. I love classical, and I love techno even more. (You'll have to point me to your stuff, purplebird! ) To me, techno just has novelties that classical simply can't match. The larger-scale structure in classical compositions can be amazing, but techno is free to visit interesting possibilities much more simply and without guilt. So I think the analogy holds both at the level of the instruments and at the scale of the composition itself.
    * * * *

  28. #28

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Plus, techno a heck of a lot of fun to dance to.

    The analogy is apt. Classic instruments = natural perfumes. Electronic instruments = synthetic perfumes. They require different skills to use, they fulfill different needs, and we shouldn't have to give up either one. And techno is probably less healthful for a variety of reasons, which I won't even go into. LOL.

    Redneck, PM me your e-mail address again and I'll convert some songs to mp3 and send them to you.

    I have often noted that there is a high level of interest in the arts on this forum, among those of you who specialize in the hard sciences, as well as well as those of us who are into the fields of literature, fine arts, music, drama and dance, architecture and design. Plus, it relates directly to our affinity for gourmet food and perfume.

    Maybe there is a high percentage of creative personalities here.

  29. #29

    Smile Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Right on!
    And I thank my higher power for synthetic musks. The alternative....not pretty.
    And I'm ready for a great synthetic civet (not an okay one--**) because frankly the reality of natural civet is not a pretty one, either. Anyway...here's to both synthetics and naturals. And the happy Musk Deer and Civets that benefit from the former!

    **my impression is that a really great and cost effective synthetic civet has not yet been invented, because perfumes still contain natural civet--though the experts here can clarify me if I'm mistaken on this!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Stereotomy View Post
    Of course! Molecules are molecules: both natural *and* man-made aromachemicals can cause allergic reactions.

    It's just that there are so many claims, especially from 'all-natural perfumers' that their 'natural' product is so much healthier because it's 'natural'.

    Heavily concentrated natural essential oil can burn through your skin, natural snake poison (organically harvested ) can give a seriously allergic reaction from most people.

    'Natural' does not equal healthier. It depends on the substance.

  30. #30

    Smile Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    In that regard, it might actually be best to spray one's clothing instead of one's skin, regardless of natural or synthetic if safety is the overriding concern.
    Something that LT and TS recommend frequently in "The Guide"--to slow progression so one can enjoy a fragrance more, and to enhance staying power.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Good thing two of my favorite fragrances are particularly well-adapted to spraying on clothing: Knowing and Aromatics Elixir. Both of these can be overwhelming when sprayed in excess on the heat of the skin, but they are charming and diffused when worn on clothing. And they last a long time. And they are cheap so you don't feel bad about spraying fabric.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    I wish that fragrance labels would include ALL ingredients (natural and synthetic), not merely "fragrance" plus a minimal list of chemicals that are suspected to induce allergy. That way, I could clearly see what is in the product I am using. And, I wish that list would be similar to those put on foods--shown in descending order of total percent.
    But wait, there are too many ingredients.
    How about a Percent Natural number on the label?
    PERFECT!!!!!!! Hi evrybody,
    I work in the food sector, in Italy. Actually a big problem in food industry is about food labelling. I think that in perfumery, as well as in food, there is a need to acculturation on consumers. We should together fight in order to have CLEAR labels for perfumes too. I know many and many herboristic factories which instead of using natural rae materials use chapiest synth ones. and consumers think they are obviously using raw natural oils!
    I think that there is a lack of transparency on that. ALL INGREDIENTS SHOULD BE LISTED! THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DEFENCE IS OFTEN A LIE TO INCLUDE WHATEVER KIND OF INFGREDIENTS INDUSTRY WANTS!.

  33. #33

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    I didn't want to start a new thread... but I need a help.

    I gave all my fragrances away because of theirs synthetic components and I'm trying to switch to a natural. Now the only one that remained on my shelf is L'Occitane - Eav des Bavx.
    So...I'm wondering about O d' Boh. How much synthetic is it???

    When I asked L'Occitane they replied:
    ''We cannot give you the full formula from our fragrance but see below the notes(???) including in this eau de toilette:

    Top Note: Black Pepper, Cardamom
    Middle Note: Cypress, Incense
    Bottom Note: Vanilla, Tonka''
    Last edited by Dear Musk; 27th December 2009 at 04:51 PM.

  34. #34

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Notes don't say crap about the used ingredients. Also, L'Occitane's marketing also doesn't say crap about the amount of synthetics used. People just cultivate goodwill for this company.
    Wanted: a cap of Bvlgari Thé Vert

    Wanted: L' Artisan Timbuktu or Fragonard Concerto

    Feel free to visit Polderposh - a young up & coming Dutch fragrance blog!

  35. #35

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Stereotomy, thank u for your reply! I started a thread at Male Fragrance Discussion.

  36. #36

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    the anti-synthetic thing makes me think of musicians who hate synthesizers but not electric guitar
    everyone stops at some point
    i don't like hardcore music
    i can't understand the lyrics/melody/rhythms in a way that makes it enjoyable for me

    synthetics are like electric guitar
    just wait til the next scent technology arrives!
    some natural fragrance diehards will suddenly value synthetics but not the olfactory equivalent of midi

    that's my two cents

  37. #37

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    I like the wonderful effects of real rose and jasmine, but I draw the line at ingredients derived from animals (musk, civet, castoreum)--even if they are by-products of another industry.

    You can now have a synthetic castoreum note, and I think even Chanel no longer use real civet.
    "No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.

  38. #38
    ECaruthers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Thanks for those who bumped this thread. Scentophile's initial post is great & worth periodic re-reading. While I'm not as turned off by seeing "All Natural" or "Organic" on a label as I am by seeing "Paris Hilton," I'm always suspicious when something else besides smell is used to sell a 'fume.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Think long and well, those of you who rush to embrace synthetics in fragrance. In the alchemy of fragrance, those made of the natural world are Gods ingredients assembled by the creative nature of man. Fragrance made of synthetics are man's impertinent attempts create himself as God in the creation of ingredients and assemblage creative.

  40. #40

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    If I ever came to find out which frags I own are predominantly natural and which predominantly synthetic (my amateurish and substantially uninformed take is that most designer and even niche frags are predominantly synthetic), I would probably end up not bothered at all by the performance of the synthetic notes- I'm pleased with the frags I like just the same, almost irrespective of what they actually contain.

  41. #41

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by N_Tesla View Post
    Think long and well, those of you who rush to embrace synthetics in fragrance. In the alchemy of fragrance, those made of the natural world are Gods ingredients assembled by the creative nature of man. Fragrance made of synthetics are man's impertinent attempts create himself as God in the creation of ingredients and assemblage creative.
    Djeez

    The keyboard you just typed that message on is made of plastic.
    Last edited by Stereotomy; 3rd February 2010 at 01:55 PM.
    Wanted: a cap of Bvlgari Thé Vert

    Wanted: L' Artisan Timbuktu or Fragonard Concerto

    Feel free to visit Polderposh - a young up & coming Dutch fragrance blog!

  42. #42

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by N_Tesla View Post
    Think long and well, those of you who rush to embrace synthetics in fragrance. In the alchemy of fragrance, those made of the natural world are Gods ingredients assembled by the creative nature of man. Fragrance made of synthetics are man's impertinent attempts create himself as God in the creation of ingredients and assemblage creative.
    But remember that even synthetics have an ultimately natural origin (everything does), while many naturals on the other hand are extracted by extremely harsh chemical processes. And what about semi-synthetics. And musk was created by the Devil .
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  43. #43

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    True, all matter and energy is made by god! We're just rearranging it.
    Wanted: a cap of Bvlgari Thé Vert

    Wanted: L' Artisan Timbuktu or Fragonard Concerto

    Feel free to visit Polderposh - a young up & coming Dutch fragrance blog!

  44. #44

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    So is god synthetic or natural?

    (sorry, I couldn't resist)
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

    reviews

  45. #45

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by N_Tesla View Post
    Think long and well, those of you who rush to embrace synthetics in fragrance. In the alchemy of fragrance, those made of the natural world are Gods ingredients assembled by the creative nature of man. Fragrance made of synthetics are man's impertinent attempts create himself as God in the creation of ingredients and assemblage creative.
    Take a good look at your "natural" perfume bottle:
    What about the spray mechanism?
    The glue that holds the label?
    The ink on the label?
    Now think that even a mostly natural perfume must have ingredients such as preservatives: because if you try to put a slice of fruit, or a flower in a tightly closed jar, trust me, in a few days, it'll stink to high heaven.
    There is no such thing as a completely natural perfume.

  46. #46

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    the term "natural" seems to be a fictitious selling point currently, at least in terms of stuff you're not making at home from your garden.

    loved the note about the computer keyboard and the glues and inks on labels!
    yeah, you can live off the grid and be closer to god, but then your internet connection gets wonky and you can't hang out on basenotes.
    is it worth it?

  47. #47

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Wait a minute - there ARE excellent all-natural perfumes out there and also excellent non-all-natural ones. They have different qualities. Sometimes I prefer one, sometimes the other.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

    reviews

  48. #48

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    i'm sure there are.
    i just think the term "natural" can mean many things, as the dude who threw out all but two of his fragrances found out when the one company wouldn't divulge their ingredients.
    "natural" isn't what the consumer often thinks of as, well "natural"
    and now "organic" doesn't mean too much since the government got involved in certification

    i did not mean to say there are no fragrances that are natural/organic/free of dyes and chemicals and synthetics
    i just mean it's a very broad term, and i bet the people who ACTUALLY strive for purity in their natural products are often lumped in with products that make no such efforts

    that lady whose perfumes come in the frosted bottle with a ribbon on it and no label
    she could be a contender
    hell, she could be natural perfume heavyweight champion of the world for all i know

    if you're not in the lab with someone, and you didn't make it yourself
    there's an element of buyer's faith because there are no perfume regulation organizations that go around determining such things
    maybe in the future, there will be

  49. #49

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    [QUOTE=jayjupes;1739321
    if you're not in the lab with someone, and you didn't make it yourself
    there's an element of buyer's faith..[/QUOTE]

    This is true even from the perspective of the natural perfumer. Do they know that their sandalwood or linden blossom or rose are not at all adulterated with synthetics? It can be nigh impossible to tell without a GC/MS, and I highly doubt many (if any) natural perfumers have ready access to that. There are a lot of unscrupulous suppliers - or even well intentioned suppliers that themselves have fallen pray to an unscrupulous supplier higher up on the chain. It gets murky, fast.
    Last edited by SculptureOfSoul; 4th February 2010 at 05:37 AM.
    ***For sale:

    Iris Pallida 50ml

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    and more!
    - http://www.basenotes.net/threads/301...n-Man-and-more

  50. #50

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Bumping this because it's an issue I've been contemplating a lot, lately.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereotomy View Post
    It's just that there are so many claims, especially from 'all-natural perfumers' that their 'natural' product is so much healthier because it's 'natural'.
    You hear this argument in all kinds of areas. What always comes to my mind is that arsenic, deadly nightshade, and a whole host of disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and moulds are also completely natural.

    Not all "natural" things are good for you. Not all "synthetic" things are bad for you. And some synthetics are, truly, nature-identical, regardless of whether they're compounded in a lab from scratch or isolated out of some botanical substance.

    That said, I do tend to prefer the richness and depth of botanicals in most cases. I just find the "whole oil" more interesting, and to have more character. I do like and wear synthetic and semi-synthetic perfumes, though. I think a lot depends on the artistry of the perfumer.
    "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
    -Karl, age 5

  51. #51

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Can I make one thing absolutely clear, as there seems, still, to be a hell of a lot of confusion. If I made a fragrance consisting only of the Essential Oils that I myself distilled, from the plants that I myself grew; that perfume would be made of chemicals, and only chemicals. ALL NATURAL FRAGRANCES ARE MADE OF CHEMICALS. There is no difference in the "goodness" of a chemical in an essential oil, and one made in a lab. It's what you do with them that counts, and there are some odour areas that cannot be made using essential oils alone.

  52. #52

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    ALL NATURAL FRAGRANCES ARE MADE OF CHEMICALS.
    Everything is made of chemicals.
    "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
    -Karl, age 5

  53. #53

    Default Re: Synthetic vs. Natural Perfumery

    Quote Originally Posted by Nymph View Post
    Take a good look at your "natural" perfume bottle:
    What about the spray mechanism?
    The glue that holds the label?
    The ink on the label?
    Now think that even a mostly natural perfume must have ingredients such as preservatives: because if you try to put a slice of fruit, or a flower in a tightly closed jar, trust me, in a few days, it'll stink to high heaven.
    There is no such thing as a completely natural perfume.
    That comment is absolutely NOT true. You don't use the fruit itself, you use the essential oil & there are different processes for extracting it. By your logic we would not be able to drink wine, how long is that aged?

    Each essential oil has a different shelf life. Citrus tends to go the fastest, things like patchouli and vanilla last the longest.

    Do you use vanilla extract? Dried herbs in cooking?

    The biggest factor in essential oils going bad is oxidation. Your finished product is only good for as long as your base ingredients. If you have one that is only good for 6 months, even though you may have others that are good for two years, your product is only good for 6 months because of that one ingredient. You can use vitamin E to try to help to slow down the oxidation and extend the life of the perfume but to say that there is no such thing as a completely natural perfume is simply not true.

    This is where the use of a citrus aromachemical can be very beneficial because it will extend the life of that perfume.

    In addition, there are some scents that can't be extracted like lily of the valley, lilac, strawberry etc. which I love and they can only be recreated synthetically. There are plenty of perfumes that employ the use of both essential oils/natural compounds AND synthetics. Why do you think the older formulations of perfumes have had to be reformulated? If they were purely synthetic it would not have been necessary.

    I think there is a place for both natural and synthetic. I don't think that either should be banned/over-regulated needlessly and that if you only choose one over the other exclusively, you are missing out but to each their own.

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