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  1. #1
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    Default Natural vs synthetic

    So I've read a lot of posts saying how you have to have aroma chems to create something good or usable. But at the same time reviews of such top perfumes like CREED always say that they use and smell natural and the cost so much due to the fact that they use expensive natural ingredients so where does the truth lie. Is it somewhere in the middle or is the whole thing a clever marketing campaign to charge ridiculous amounts of money for something that's not all that costly to make.
    I'm not saying it's away to do or that charging a lot of money for someone's creativity is wrong but the truth would be nice. I would rather pay for something knowing why it cost what it does.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Creed don't state that they only use naturals.
    Very few fragrances indeed are made without the use of aroma chemicals for various reasons and this has been the case for a very long time indeed.
    In some cases, there are also ethical reasons for using synthetics in place of naturals.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    As lpp was saying. The cost of materials is just a small fraction of the price,so indeed, for most brands it is really marketing. Besides, most natural materials are now restricted by IFRA, so perfume brands wouldn't use them even if they wanted to.

    cacio

  4. #4

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Creed are somewhat of an exception though in that their marketing is largely nonsense -- their fragrances are fairly basic, without any really top-shelf materials in them -- they just have an excellent marketing team to pump them up. Their "Royal Oud" for example contains no oud and is certainly not royal, despite some of the laughable stories they attach to the scents. For mainstream releases such as Creeds, it's just not cost effective to use high-end or pricey materials when mass producing scents, but you'll find perfumers out there (and in these forums) who lean toward rare / expensive naturals because they have greater dimensions and a deeper scent profile. Synths can be wonderful, and there are some great, creative blends to be had from them, but make no mistake that Creed's primary goal is to move units -- and they do so through their marketing tactics more than anything.

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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Would it make more sense(cents) to use cheap chems when your bottom line is money but is there any big companies who can do both? Can you not make money and make a quality natural based product. I'm sure there are a few out there but none come to mind. It's too bad you have to sacrifice quality for profit. But without a public willing to buy into a co like creed selling an overpriced overhyped product they might have to resort to other options. It will never happen but one can dream. I know aroma chems are an important part of modern perfumery and no doubt they are needed but are they not just a short cut to creativity or am easy way of finding an answer that would take a true artist to find using naturals. Balancing a formula using naturals is an art unto itself

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    I'm sure that others will make better comments, but do remember that large companies are profit driven and need to be able to market a consistent product at a competitive price and also that many more of the indie artists out there utilise synthetics than not - whether or not they manage to make any profit!
    Totally 'natural' products have drawbacks other than consistency & price.

    It's all mixing chemicals in the end - with different aims and intentions perhaps.

    Limiting your choice to naturals only is not a choice taken by many - how many really highly regarded fragrance lines do this?
    Last edited by lpp; 29th December 2013 at 10:44 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by Cason View Post
    I know aroma chems are an important part of modern perfumery and no doubt they are needed but are they not just a short cut to creativity or am easy way of finding an answer that would take a true artist to find using naturals. Balancing a formula using naturals is an art unto itself
    Plainly I will answer, No, Aromatic chemicals are not simply a short cut to compensate for a lack of skill in the hands of a Perfumer.

    There is as you say, an art to balancing a formula completely with naturals. As there is an Art to balancing all perfumes, made with all materials. But selling an all natural perfume is selling an idea, a philosophy, before it is selling a perfume. And this philosophy is based on a fallacious ideology that synthetic materials are bad for you, or that they have no "Life-Force" mumbo-jumbo, or that a chemical found in an essential oil isn't the same chemical that is processed by lab techniques into that material, in a cheaper manner than by using the natural material.

    The entire Natural Perfume movement is a fallacious fractionated inane irrationality. To use nice words.

    A molecule is a molecule is a molecule.
    Last edited by pkiler; 6th March 2014 at 03:45 PM.
    Paul Kiler
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    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Thank you, Paul!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by Cason View Post
    So I've read a lot of posts saying how you have to have aroma chems to create something good or usable. But at the same time reviews of such top perfumes like CREED always say that they use and smell natural and the cost so much due to the fact that they use expensive natural ingredients so where does the truth lie. Is it somewhere in the middle or is the whole thing a clever marketing campaign to charge ridiculous amounts of money for something that's not all that costly to make.
    I'm not saying it's away to do or that charging a lot of money for someone's creativity is wrong but the truth would be nice. I would rather pay for something knowing why it cost what it does.
    I think it's mostly hype, though not always, depending on the perfumer. A perfume's cost does vary greatly with the expense of ingredients, and many natural ingredients are among the most expensive. The cost of those items is related to the demand for them versus the supply.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by Cason View Post
    Would it make more sense(cents) to use cheap chems when your bottom line is money but is there any big companies who can do both? Can you not make money and make a quality natural based product. I'm sure there are a few out there but none come to mind. It's too bad you have to sacrifice quality for profit. But without a public willing to buy into a co like creed selling an overpriced overhyped product they might have to resort to other options. It will never happen but one can dream. I know aroma chems are an important part of modern perfumery and no doubt they are needed but are they not just a short cut to creativity or am easy way of finding an answer that would take a true artist to find using naturals. Balancing a formula using naturals is an art unto itself
    It will on the average be cheaper the more synthetics you use, all things being equal. But all things are not equal, and some aromachemicals are very, very expensive, more than some natural materials. A committment to mostly natural materials can often make your product cost more to make.

    On the other hand, if you objective is a beautiful perfume and making art, using aromachemicals gives you more options; and it is probaby fair to say you can make perfumes over the long haul that better meet a wide variety of artistic visions if you use both aromachemicals and naturals. Both have their qualities and advantages.

    Aromachemicals can be used in the way you fear, but that is not due to their "nature". That is due to an inferior artist or company in that respect.

    Balancing a formula using only naturals is indeed a difficult, fun art. So is balancing a formula using aromachemicals, or using both.

    With single chemicals, single molecules, you have more control over narrow, precise notes.

    With naturals, nature has balanced them for you, their arrays of chemicals; but combining them requires that one accounts for the complexity created, and often there appears to be chaos to deal with. There is a skill to that, or several skills.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 30th December 2013 at 05:51 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    I also have some frustration with any strict naturals movement, as you can prefer the wonders of nature and still want to add some beautiful note or notes to achieve your vision that are possible only via single chemicals, or non-nature identical chemicals.

    Notwithstanding, I believe there is certainly a value to natural materials. It is not as if they have no advantages. Their beauty is the beauty of nature, and their beauty is built in, depending on their quality.

    Part of the unique value of naturals can be seen via biology. These natural substances, which are themselves combinations of scented and nonscented chemicals, have evolved in, and with, a relationship with humans and other members of the environment. Human history can be told as a relation with the scents of nature, and has been.

    Humans have a scent as well, and have evolved with other scent producing organisms. Psychology is also important, as humans have evolved with particular behaviors and emotional responses in response to specific scents.

    People have also evolved to form close relations with plants and organisms that are a benefit to them somehow, in numerous ways. Many of these plants, for example, are foods, or resemble bioactive scents such as musks or pheromones (see Pherobase library for a scientific view on this, as related to insects and their relation with nature based aromachemicals). Many plants are medicines, or are otherwise useful, and these qualities are in a sense inherent in their DNA.

    There are biological reasons that particular foods, herbs, and other species smell good. These relations make species more adaptive to their environment, and enhance their survival and flourishing.

    Smell has a biology as well as a chemistry, in other words.

    Lavender, for example, is antinflammatory, as is wintergreen. Valerian root relaxes you. Rosemary wakes you up a little bit, as does grapefruit or menthol. Vanilla is comforting, whether through it's inherent biochemistry, or through classical conditioning. Eucalyptus helps your breathing. Clove can relieve a toothache, as can eugenol alone.

    But I don't see any reason to elimenate single chemicals, or single chemicals that are not nature identical. That would be sad for perfuming, indeed. I appreciate the value of naturals, but my interest in perfumery as an art requires that I use both. My deepest love is for natural materials. I enjoy coaxing nature into a specific direction, and I can't really imagine creating a perfume using only synthetics. It is possible, just not my preference. I value unbridled artistic vision, but as it happens, I always have something from nature in my mind's eye. Here I am reminded of Japanese gardens, which are themselves a spellbinding expression of the combination of nature and human art. They express natural art in combination with human art. Humans in that case are molding the growth of, and ornamenting, nature. Notwithstanding, humans are part of nature, and so there is a sense in which a chemical created by humans is also natural.

    So there should be no taboo about chemicals, even thought the fascinating biopsychology of scent is what it is.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 30th December 2013 at 06:57 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    I'm not sure how this natural perfumery movement 'behaves', but if they're
    as militant as the neo-vegans are, then it's purely pathological in my eyes.
    However, people are entitled to know what's in their products (though the
    law doesn't always think so), and marketing products that were built using
    molecules fabricated or isolated as natural is a bit misleading.

    Regarding this -
    And this philosophy is based on a falacious ideology that synthetic materials are bad for you, or that they have no "Life-Force" mumbo-jumbo
    I don't really agree with this view, but that might take us far off
    the topic, and will make people think less of me

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    The Natural Perfumery group on Yahoo seems to be losing members to the Perfumery group. I blame this on the militant No Fermenting rule. However its intentions are good and inspirational.

    I hope this coming year there will be more 'natural isolates', fermented or not, that will enable more people to try natural perfuming. In Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell Classen wrote:"Today's synthetic scents...are evocative of things which are not there, of presences which are absent...These artificial odours are a sign without a referent, smoke without fire, pure olfactory image.... The question is, will smell, seduced by an endless procession of olfactory simulacra ... remind us of our organic nature and even hint at a realm of the spirit."
    Last edited by nemenator; 31st December 2013 at 01:47 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    I blame this on the militant No Fermenting rule.
    What does this mean? They don't use ferments as well? Weird.

    As for simulacra - an interesting implication in regards to aroma chemicals. I'm
    not sure I wholesomely agree, because for me simulacra refers to a much more
    pungent form of illusions than the aroma chemicals evoke.. Will probably need to
    give this some thought.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    There's a world of difference between trying to succeed within dictated/agreed limits and being free to be creative with the whole, wonderful selection of available materials.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    When I started this thread I was in no way saying that only naturals is the way to go. I was just questioning the cost and marketing of some perfumes. Sure aroma chems are important and just as hard to master as naturals if not harder. I agree that it's like an artist having access to more materials. The life force or the soul of naturals is all well and good but that's more aroma therapy than perfumery. I say use whatever it takes to create what your after and use them however you wish.
    We are not all trying to do the same thing some of us want nothing to so with nature and wish to create something that doesn't exist naturally so to each his own and have fun.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by nemenator View Post
    The Natural Perfumery group on Yahoo seems to be losing members to the Perfumery group. I blame this on the militant No Fermenting rule. However its intentions are good and inspirational.

    I hope this coming year there will be more 'natural isolates', fermented or not, that will enable more people to try natural perfuming. In Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell Classen wrote:"Today's synthetic scents...are evocative of things which are not there, of presences which are absent...These artificial odours are a sign without a referent, smoke without fire, pure olfactory image.... The question is, will smell, seduced by an endless procession of olfactory simulacra ... remind us of our organic nature and even hint at a realm of the spirit."
    I find it puzzling, to say the least, that within the realm of natural medicine probiotics, fermented foods and many other bacteria based products are widely lauded as an essential part of "proper nutrition" and yet anything fermented or that is a product of fermentation is bad for the outside of the body according to the natural perfumery guild? I'm curious to see/hear the logic and science behind this... (my guess is that there isn't any and the NPG site says as much). It seems as though there is a lot of fear mongering and guru-ism going on here. I don't think that there is any question as to whether or not some natural substances are harmful to our health but I find it highly suspect to make the blanket statement that ANYTHING man made is inherently bad or somehow "evil" - according to whichever relative religious definition one might choose - within the context of perfumery.

    My guess is that the tenets espoused by the natural perfumers guild are an extension of some other belief system or are the personal beliefs of a woo-guru as it doesn't seem to follow any form of logic or science that I'm familiar with. I actually take the side of "naturalist" ideologies in the case of both GMO foods/plants and fluoride in the water supply and I practice many beliefs espoused by some evidence based/empirical based natural medicine advocates, so, I'm not a "mainstream" or corporate industry chear-leader in any sense of the word. Unfortunately the natural perfumery guild doesn't make any scientific claims, nor can they back up their stance with any clear logic. Also, the fact remains that the current popular industry trend with regards to natural products has grown exponentially and to the point that demand is far outstripping natural resources faster than they can be grown. It can also be argued that stripping the earth of it's natural resources with reckless abandon is a very poor practice that negatively impacts natural biodiversity and human health worse than any fermented scent soup we intentionally spray onto ourselves.
    Justin E. Beasley

  18. #18

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Personally my view is that this isnít a competition. Natural materials have advantages (complexity, familiarity) and disadvantages (complexity, variability). Synthetics can give you scent components that are either unavailable in nature (marine notes for example) or prohibitively expensive (ambergris notes for example). Synthetics are also vastly simpler, which makes them easier to use.

    In my experience working with naturals alone is harder: hence I have only one fully natural fragrance in my range. Only once was I satisfied that Iíd produced a natural perfume as opposed to a blend of essential oils . . .

    On the fermentation question this seems to me to be the worst kind of hypocrisy on the part of many who espouse this philosophy, who happily sell their products diluted in ďorganic grain alcoholĒ . . . produced by fermentation. I dare say many of them cheerfully eat leavened bread too . . .

    Final thought, if you do buy into the idea that natural is better, that life-force factors change the nature of the ingredients in some beneficial way and so on, I invite you to remember that fraudsters exist in every field:

    On 11th October 2013 I shared a post by the authors of Scent and Chemistry on the Pell Wall Perfumes Facebook page in which they give an analysis of the perfume Calling All Angels by April Aromatics, who appear to be still claiming itís all-natural despite the clear evidence of the GC-MS that it contains 9% Amber Core (a cheap synthetic amber manufactured by Kao and normally used in low-end functional perfumery). To my mind thatís a bit like finding your beef contains 9% horse-meat.

    It causes me to wonder whether it was really bottled on the full moon, "channelled" with the aid of a "clairvoyant healer" with messages from archangels Michael and Raphael, but of course those things donít show up on a GC-MS so itís impossible to be sure . . . at 14Euro for 2.5ml I should think the ďElohim" were well paid. The fragrance is fully IFRA compliant though, so itís definitely on the side of the angels!
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
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    Chris Bartlett
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    ??

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    Final thought, if you do buy into the idea that natural is better, that life-force factors change the nature of the ingredients in some beneficial way and so on, I invite you to remember that fraudsters exist in every field:

    On 11th October 2013 I shared a post by the authors of Scent and Chemistry on the Pell Wall Perfumes Facebook page in which they give an analysis of the perfume Calling All Angels by April Aromatics, who appear to be still claiming it’s all-natural despite the clear evidence of the GC-MS that it contains 9% Amber Core (a cheap synthetic amber manufactured by Kao and normally used in low-end functional perfumery). To my mind that’s a bit like finding your beef contains 9% horse-meat.

    It causes me to wonder whether it was really bottled on the full moon, "channelled" with the aid of a "clairvoyant healer" with messages from archangels Michael and Raphael, but of course those things don’t show up on a GC-MS so it’s impossible to be sure . . . at 14Euro for 2.5ml I should think the “Elohim" were well paid. The fragrance is fully IFRA compliant though, so it’s definitely on the side of the angels!
    I'm certain that this is more common than most would like to believe, especially in the US where marketing is king. Buyer beware.
    Justin E. Beasley

  21. #21

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    most people think (hope and believe) her perfume that she would love absolutely natural.

    And if a perfume is very expensive and rare, then it must be, of course, without chemicals. Expensiv = natural.

    But for how many bottles and packaging is, the content would be purely natural?

    I can think of not a lot of manufacturers. They are available. No doubt about it.

    And the more chemicals we use, the stronger is the belief for a content without chemicals.
    http://www.aromatisches-blog.de
    Here`s something for the tip of your nose!

  22. #22

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Chris - that doesn't contradict the life-force idea..
    It seems that sometimes marketing is more important than content in the perfume industry.. I guess it's the nature or this sense, that it works better with a mental image..

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Whilst I'm perfectly happy to believe that some plant matter may have beneficial (or detrimental) effects on our bodies & minds (pass the vetiver please!), the claims on some websites just look so far-fetched that my 'buyer beware' alarm tends to cause a rapid shift to a different website!
    After a quick chuckle, anyway.

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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    The all mighty dollar dictates everything

  25. #25

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    My personal opinion is that natural oils are especially useful for natural medicine. I would enjoy natural lavender oil to relax at home or natural lemongrass on my skin to ward off insects...
    But in perfumery, I would rather use synthetics. Reason being, I love flowers, and it hurts my heart (and head) to imagine all of them being crushed/distilled just so it would be mixed with some other oils. So if there's a good aroma chemical that is exactly like the real thing, I'd rather use it than crush tons of flowers/leaves.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by Nizan View Post
    Chris - that doesn't contradict the life-force idea..
    It seems that sometimes marketing is more important than content in the perfume industry.. I guess it's the nature or this sense, that it works better with a mental image..
    No indeed it does not. As I regard that belief as a matter of faith I donít believe it can be contradicted by any amount of scientific evidence: faith, in this context, being defined as belief without the need for evidence.

    My point was not to disprove the idea, but to point out that there are people around ready to take advantage of other peopleís belief in that idea and defraud them. I may not share the idea but I believe passionately that everyone is both entitled to their faith and to expect other people to respect it and not to attempt to take them for a ride on the basis of it.
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
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    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    One of the problems stems from the perfume industry itself, in that they have solicited naturals as being the epitome of their own mostly synthetic perfumes by describing them as such. The ‘notes’ in every ad will proclaim natural products as their components, and will even adamantly identify their perfumes with them.

    So is it the least bit surprising that the easily-led public has evolved to believe that ‘natural’ equals ‘good’?

    I adore essential oils for many reasons, but it doesn’t preclude my loving synthetics any less. The faithful naturalists and occultniks hide behind the ‘natural’ banner for whatever myopic reasons that people blindly follow anything without much real thought and science.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Thank you Mr. Bartlett, I couldn't agree more. There are loopholes in just about everyones belief system that can be exploited intentionally or unintentionally and unfortunately when it comes to selling product(s) and making money the line between intentional and unintentional has the potential to become extremely blurry for people who are in a position to exercise this opportunity to exploit those loopholes for their own benefit.
    Justin E. Beasley

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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Like I originally said creed has such fantastic marketing people will buy into the myth not the reality. Like isn't the new creed fragrance made with unicorn horn and four leaf clover essence and wasn't it made for the king of Fantasia. That's what I heard anyway. I could be mistaken.

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    Default Re: Natural vs synthetic

    Quote Originally Posted by Cason View Post
    Like I originally said creed has such fantastic marketing people will buy into the myth not the reality. Like isn't the new creed fragrance made with unicorn horn and four leaf clover essence and wasn't it made for the king of Fantasia. That's what I heard anyway. I could be mistaken.
    You've given me an idea!
    I'm going to start making unicorn ambergris for sale (at exorbitant prices of course) and then I'll write an entire web site about it which will make it an instantaneous and indisputable truth - Don't worry, for validation I'll write a bunch of testimonials and sign other peoples names to them. Then I'll write a book about unicorn poop as a perfumery ingredient and sell that on my web site too - because writing books about something is all the validation anyone needs to be pronounced as an expert. Just for value added I'll state that the book was written by a channelled alien or famous perfumer. Every purchaser will receive 1g of complimentary unicorn horn powder (really just ground toenail powder but nobody will know the difference). I'll be pronounced as THE unicorn guru and victoriously crowned by all of my unicorn ambergris loving friends. I will then establish the world unicorn ambergris society, ask all of my friends (or whoever kisses my butt the most) to be on the official board for said establishment and charge everyone else for membership. At which point I will rule the world. Yes, you heard correctly, I WILL rule the world!... [air twisting imaginary salvador dali mustache]
    Justin E. Beasley

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