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  1. #1

    Default Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    Hello everyone,

    I'm yet to properly start my journey of perfume making. I have been experimenting with blending essential oils into base oils for the past few years. My nose is only really accustomed to natural scents and I figured it's probably easier to begin by making natural perfumes considering the materials are generally easier to get hold of and seem simpler to combine. However, I have to confess I have a love for powdery/violet notes in perfumes such as Penhaligons' 'Violetta', Guerlain's 'Insolence' and Diptyques 'Tam Dao'. Does anyone know if there is a way to recreate these sorts of notes using essential oils only? I am doubtful that there is one, given that I've never encountered a natural perfume with a powdery smell, but worth a shot I guess.

    Jake

  2. #2

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    Well here's my 2 cents.

    Vetiver is very powdery and sweet on me. That could come down to my skin chemistry though.
    I also find oakmoss to have a powdery musky quality in late drydown.
    Iris absolute is a natural source of violet-like fragrance but hideously expensive.
    Mimosa might help to create a powdery accord

  3. #3

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by ClaraAus View Post
    Well here's my 2 cents.

    Vetiver is very powdery and sweet on me. That could come down to my skin chemistry though.
    I also find oakmoss to have a powdery musky quality in late drydown.
    Iris absolute is a natural source of violet-like fragrance but hideously expensive.
    Mimosa might help to create a powdery accord
    Thank you for the tips. I had never thought of vetiver as a powder note before. I'd always associated vetiver as being quite a green, "sticky" smell. Maybe used with other essential oils I could get it to smell powdery on me.

    I was unaware until now of the existence of iris absolute. The only natural source of Iris I've heard of is orris root powder. I love iris perfumes so I'll have to see if I can get hold of it anywhere. Mimosa I'm also unfamiliar with in its natural form.

    This is all great advice. Thanks again

  4. #4

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    Vetiver from Haiti especially has a powdery, orris-like quality that dominates after less than an hour. The Indian/Java vetiver will be more smoky and sticky. Vetiveryl acetate is used in perfumery to render the green, fresh vetiver note, but it lacks the powdery aspect.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    To achieve the powdery violet effect you are after you will, I'm afraid, need to use synthetics; mainly the Ionones and Methyl Ionones. To get to something like Violetta, you will need many synthetics and speciallity bases. Cedarwood can help to give part of the powdery note, but won't on its own. Orris is also powdery, but can have a sour earthy greenness which is not what you want. And it costs a huge amount of money. What is the big deal with using Synthetics? They are usually cheaper and, in my opinion, easier to use. An Essential Oil is made up of many different chemicals (often several hundred), and can be thought of as a fragrance in its own right. Much more complex in behaviour, and many more unknowns when used in compounding. A synthetic, whilst it may contain several isomers, is effectively a single material, and so simpler to use.

    I don't understand what you mean when you say "my nose is only really accustomed to natural scents". Do you mean you are more familiar with the smell of Essential Oils? If so, this can easily be changed. The first step any and every trainee perfumer should take is to learn their raw materials. Dip a single material, and follow the performance and behaviour of it over a couple of days (and in some cases several weeks) to see how its smell changes over time. This is much more straightforward with a synthetic. Make notes all of the time, and you will know which material is a top note, and which is a back note.

    Don't be scared of synthetics, they perform a vitl part in perfumery, and without them we could not get the results we want.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    To achieve the powdery violet effect you are after you will, I'm afraid, need to use synthetics; mainly the Ionones and Methyl Ionones. To get to something like Violetta, you will need many synthetics and speciallity bases. Cedarwood can help to give part of the powdery note, but won't on its own. Orris is also powdery, but can have a sour earthy greenness which is not what you want. And it costs a huge amount of money. What is the big deal with using Synthetics? They are usually cheaper and, in my opinion, easier to use. An Essential Oil is made up of many different chemicals (often several hundred), and can be thought of as a fragrance in its own right. Much more complex in behaviour, and many more unknowns when used in compounding. A synthetic, whilst it may contain several isomers, is effectively a single material, and so simpler to use.

    I don't understand what you mean when you say "my nose is only really accustomed to natural scents". Do you mean you are more familiar with the smell of Essential Oils? If so, this can easily be changed. The first step any and every trainee perfumer should take is to learn their raw materials. Dip a single material, and follow the performance and behaviour of it over a couple of days (and in some cases several weeks) to see how its smell changes over time. This is much more straightforward with a synthetic. Make notes all of the time, and you will know which material is a top note, and which is a back note.

    Don't be scared of synthetics, they perform a vitl part in perfumery, and without them we could not get the results we want.
    Thank you every one for your replies. Thanks for your advice David. Yes, I meant to say that I am only familiar with essential oils. I'd like to think I have an intuition of which notes are base, heart and tops just by smelling them individually, but I find it difficult to discern notes in synthetic perfumes. I can quite easily discern them in essential oil blends but that is as far as I can go at the moment.

    Would you be able to tell me where I could get hold of synthetic fragrance oils and perfumers alcohol?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    There is a DIY supplier's list on this DIY forum. I doubt if you can tell, just by smelling a material, how long it will last on a smelling strip. The only way to learn is by doing it. I always find that synthetics (aromas chemicals) are easier to follow as they are less complex. What is a "synthetic fragrance oil"? Do you mean a simple base, or a chemical;I don't really understand what you are after.

    I think that you cannot discern individual synthetics in a blend, because you are not familiar with them. So become familiar!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    What David says. Ionones are also available as natural isolates and can be used in natural perfumery. These natural extractions are indeed expensive, so if you're doing this just as a hobby, I don't see the harm in getting some synthetic ionones, most are inexpensive. Depending on where you are located, you can get these single synthetic aromatic molecules in small quantities at the following suppliers:
    USA http://shop.perfumersapprentice.com/default.aspx
    Netherlands http://www.hexapus.nl/en/main.htm
    UK http://www.olfactik.com/
    Thailand http://www.perfumersworld.com/

    p.s. there is a good chance that the 'natural' essential oils that you are accustomed to are not so natural anyways, especially the more expensive ones as adulteration is unfortunately very common practice especially with stock sold in small quantities like aromatherapy shops and the likes.
    Last edited by Irina; 27th December 2012 at 12:02 PM.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Recreating violet/powder notes without synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by Irina View Post
    What David says. Ionones are also available as natural isolates and can be used in natural perfumery. These natural extractions are indeed expensive, so if you're doing this just as a hobby, I don't see the harm in getting some synthetic ionones, most are inexpensive. Depending on where you are located, you can get these single synthetic aromatic molecules in small quantities at the following suppliers:
    USA http://shop.perfumersapprentice.com/default.aspx
    Netherlands http://www.hexapus.nl/en/main.htm
    UK http://www.olfactik.com/
    Thailand http://www.perfumersworld.com/

    p.s. there is a good chance that the 'natural' essential oils that you are accustomed to are not so natural anyways, especially the more expensive ones as adulteration is unfortunately very common practice especially with stock sold in small quantities like aromatherapy shops and the likes.
    Thank you David and Irina for your advice. I will probably buy some aroma chemicals from the UK site you mentioned. I only buy essential oils from Neal's Yard Remedies, most of which are wild or certified as organic by the soil association, so I'm pretty sure they're unadulterated. I get a big discount for working there part time. Only problem is that they don't stock things like tuberose or agarwood which are highly expensive to buy pure. I'm sure that's one instance where using synthetics is sensible.

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