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  1. #1

    Default Old time perfume

    Hello everyone,

    I hope that I am not opening an already thread..

    I have read a lot about natural perfume are nothing without synthetics ones: they are dull, flat etc...

    However, the question I have in my mind when I read this is what about old perfume ?

    Making perfume is not related to our modern society. It used to be done long ago too...
    Were they perfume not good at the time just because they had no synthetics oil ?

    I am very curious and interested into the answer...
    I think we can all agree: synthetic oil is a modern ingredient for perfumery.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Old time perfume

    All Natural is OK. But making it last well is difficult. That's why Deer musk, civet, and Ambergris were so prominent, because they were natural fixatives.
    The other side of Natural vs single molecules, is the ability to be fuzzy, or focused.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    In addition to Our own PK line, we make Custom Bespoke Perfumes, perfumes for Entrepreneurs needing scents for perfumes or products, Custom Wedding Perfumes, and even Special Event Perfumes.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    I expect few of us have smelled any commercial old time perfume that didn't have one or more of isolates such as linalool and geraniol, maybe linalool acetate and geranyl acetate, synthetic-though-nature-identical coumarin and/or heliotropin, or synthetic methyl ionone. These were available very early. If obtaining the true original vintage some would be free of any synthetic musk, but they had the real thing and we do not.

    If something has ever been created could be called a very fine perfume in the modern (since Jicky) sense that uses nothing but essential oils and absolutes, no isolates, and nothing that is the product of a chemical reaction, I don't know of it. It may be that additions of at least a little of the above are necessary or otherwise inevitably one gets a perfume of the category of still earlier times.
    Last edited by Bill Roberts; 5th November 2019 at 03:50 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    If you look at perfumes in ancient times, they tended to be very expensive, a luxury for the more affluent.

    Think about that Bible story where the woman pours expensive spikenard perfume oil onto Jesus's feet, and Judas complains about the huge amount of money being wasted.
    ( Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36–50, John 12:1-8 )

    In ancient times perfume was made from the essence of damask roses and it was very expensive, as it still is today. It takes a very large number of roses to make a tiny bit of rose essence concentrate.

    Also in France a few hundred years ago, I believe I read somewhere that cognac distillate was used as a perfume fixative. As some of you may know, cognac distillate is not cheap.

    Other common perfume bases back then included labdanum and myrrh. Oakmoss became popular at one point, though it is now banned (controversially). Ambergris was another exorbitantly expensive sought after ingredient (in modern times replaced by the synthetic Ambroxan).

    Later in Italy, bergamot and neroli started being used in perfumes. This was a time when noble women generally kept out of the sun, to maintain a pale skin tone, so presumably the photosensitizing effect of bergamot was less of an issue back then. (steam distilled, or FCF bergamot doesn't have this issue, though some perfumers with a distinguished nose say it is inferior)
    Real neroli, of course, is pretty expensive, takes a lot of blossoms.

    In India they used sandalwood and champaca flowers (which don't really smell floral but are more resinous like incense, contains elemene).
    Also sometimes patchouli or Cypriol (Nagarmotha), very masculine scents. And vetiver was in use by the nobility.
    In China, osmanthus and jasmine were sometimes used in fragrances, along with imported cinnamon, star anise, cloves.
    Also Terminalia chebula (source of coumarin) and Benzoin (scented by subtle traces of vanillin and benzaldehyde) were also used. Several fragrant resins were imported from the area that is today Vietnam, but I'm not sure if they were used in personal body fragrances.

  5. #5
    Basenotes Member Finelikeanoyster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Synthetics are knowed from the mid of 19th century (very rudimentar), only the end of the century are dicovered ''good''
    forms to make synthetics, and for this to be used more largely only after 1900-05.

    Perfumery comes from immemorial times, such the Moses time, old egypt ... True perfumes made with essential oils appears
    in middle ages, for example the hungary queen water is know the first alcoholic fragrance,
    some says that is a destiled alcohol with rosemary and some herbs, but i think this is made with rosemary oil.
    In the 16-17th centuries, have more informations about, the perfumery starts to desenvolves.
    Up to 19th c. alcohol perfumes with EOs are privilege for only very, very rich people.
    Materials are more scarcely, not having the large variety like in 20th c.
    Lavender for example turn popular appreciation in the second quart of 18th century,
    vetiver n patchouly only appears in europe at 19th c., sandal are knowed before,
    however come to large uses at this epoch..

    Not rich people to be perfumed, using aromatic destiled waters/alcohol, tinctures, oils, pomades, powders, sachets etc. To answer you, the criteria of a good fragrance in the past is very different from now, or 100 years ago.

    Each perfumer in this epoch knows how to work good with their materials, if you do not have synthetics, try to discover the best method to make.
    I think past perfumers knows secrets to make good fragrances, forgotten now, because new methods, synthetics, standards, the large use of EOs are decreased too. Well this is the europe/occidental perfumery.
    Currently wearing: Tai Winds by Avon

  6. #6

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Thank you so much for these very rich replies.
    I will be frank : I have been trying to understand why modetn perfume are dependant on synthetic fragrances...as old times only natural fragrances were availabe. I do believe too, as fineasanoystet said that old craft of perfumery art has been forgotten because of the new ingredients introduce by the modern world.
    Often these forbidden ingredients were used : deer musk, civet, and Ambergris etc...but I also believe that other ingredient were also used - secret ingredient known only by parfumers ?
    Oriental perfumes has probably a different story..
    I am in the endeavor of making perfume based only on natural fragrances including the natural isolates.
    It might sound a bit foolish for some of you who has experience and uses synthetics ones... and I could understand it. I have certainty that the reign of plants is full of surprises and that the potentiel is not fully expressed. I hope I don't sound presumptious by saying that I believe that some plants has not been tested in perfumery and can surely have an impact perfumery..

    I would like to share this short part of article I have read 2 weeks ago : "Amsterdam-based perfume brand*Abel, run by New Zealand ex-pat*Frances Shoemaker, has even managed to convert to ambrettolide permanently. Currently, musk is in around 99% of perfumes, but if Abel’s success is anything to go by this might soon change.

    Abel has managed to create a comparatively longer-lasting natural perfume without musk or synthetic nasties. The ambrettolide even gives each distinct Abel variant a rich, fruity scent that makes the brand stand out. Who says you need synthetic fragrances to make your mark in the perfume world?"

  7. #7

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by FragranceSauvage View Post
    I will be frank : I have been trying to understand why modern perfume are dependant on synthetic fragrances...as old times only natural fragrances were available.
    The main reason is that synthetics are cheaper or more economical.
    Synthetics can carry other advantages as well, such as being stronger, with more concentrated chemical odorants, than the naturals they come from.

    However, there are also many cases where synthetics do not replace certain essential oils so well, and the very most expensive perfumes will prefer to use certain natural ingredients rather than the synthetic replacement, when cost is no issue. But these perfumes will still make use of synthetics where appropriate.

    Usually the areas that synthetics have the most difficulty copying the natural are base notes, because these are larger more complex molecules.

    Very often, many perfumes these days intentionally try to go in a smell direction that's not necessarily natural. Think of it like modern art compared to contemporary realism.
    They are working with a different palette, and synthetic chemicals are more appropriate (or at least economical) for mass production.

    And you can still easily pay 150 a bottle for perfume where they are still using synthetics rather than the naturals due to cost.
    It might not be until the 200 to 300 cost per bottle range that cost of ingredients really becomes no issue and they will use what they think will smell the best, without regard to cost. In a few specific instances, they may have to use synthetics rather than the naturals to comply with IFF regulations.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by FragranceSauvage View Post
    Abel has managed to create a comparatively longer-lasting natural perfume without musk or synthetic nasties. The ambrettolide even gives each distinct Abel variant a rich, fruity scent that makes the brand stand out. Who says you need synthetic fragrances to make your mark in the perfume world?"
    But ambrettolide is a musk. (Or should I say, the ambrettolides as there are at least two similar materials sold as such.)

    Nor is there anything new about use of ambrettolide.

    Maybe something new in touting it as making one's perfume line different and better, though.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Ambrettolide, a musk, as Bill mentions, can be extracted from a natural, and is, I think $35,000 per kg. if I remember rightly from my conversation with Christine.

    Synthetics are not nasties.

    Most old time perfumes were heavily laden with these six molecules:
    Vanillin
    Coumarin
    Heliotropin
    Musk Ketone
    Musk Ambrette
    Musk Xylol

    Those are the primary materials for strength and longevity of perfumes, starting in the 1910's forward, until about 1980.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    In addition to Our own PK line, we make Custom Bespoke Perfumes, perfumes for Entrepreneurs needing scents for perfumes or products, Custom Wedding Perfumes, and even Special Event Perfumes.

  10. #10
    Basenotes Member Finelikeanoyster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Sometime ago I thought the same, synthetics are bad...

    vita brevis, ars longa ( Art is long, life is short)

    Why not ? At the first impression, synthetic products are strange, unnatural... I think in certain quantity cannot be harmful, and many scents are so beautiful to leave out. So I stopped worrying with that, with ou without, a day i will die ! why not to play ?

    Some times the peoples invent different ways to earn money, same as this perfumery is serious, synthetics molecules not are trash or scoria.

    About the past perfumery, I think the perfumes are very well equilibrated, with first grade choiced materials, also the perfumers search made perfumes to be very delicate and soft, very agreable to the nose. In old times like in other areas, exists a virtuose with rigorous methods (can few of these is secrets, not more accessible)
    Currently wearing: Tai Winds by Avon

  11. #11

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by Finelikeanoyster View Post
    Why not ? At the first impression, synthetic products are strange, unnatural...
    That's why synthetics are often sold in the form of accords, pre-mixed in the right combination so they smell like a natural note of something.

    Many perfumists may be less comfortable using the raw basic synthetics by themselves, when they are in the form of a single molecular substance.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Old perfume= nitro musks.
    Old perfumes has this specific creepy powdery, baby-cream with salty sweaty dirty vagina undertone from musk ketone, this is very diffusive ingredients and very characteric ,,ultra feminine" character, very associated in old women, especially old woman in church with cold hand and creamed wrinkled glow face with baby cream.
    Musk ketone= stereotypical old woman.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Or is this a cultural overlay?

    I suspect it's entirely likely that in say the 1920's when the perceived most attractive young women, especially when dressed to the nines, were wearing perfumes prominent with musk ketone, the association was quite different.

    I don't myself at all think that musk ketone smells inherently like an old woman.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by FragranceSauvage View Post
    Thank you so much for these very rich replies.
    I will be frank : I have been trying to understand why modetn perfume are dependant on synthetic fragrances
    One under-discussed reason is sustainability. Some botanicals - especially woods such as white sandalwood, rosewood, Atlas cedar, guaiacwood, agarwood - are at risk from over-harvesting. Others are simply very resource-intensive to farm. Reconstructing them from other materials is gentler, e.g. 'rosewood' where the linalool comes from a fast-regrowing herb instead of a decade-old tree.

    The line between natural and synthetic seems pretty thin to me. Isolates from botanical sources are considered natural, but a great many synthetics are also made starting from botanical isolates (e.g. pine terpenes) as the raw materials.

  15. #15
    Basenotes Member Finelikeanoyster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Musk ketone is very beutiful material, their presence in many old perfumes is notable, is the soul to compound old perfumes, but the material itself not smell 'old', masculine or femine, because their presence are in both perfumes,same baby powder scent have this.

    Oh ! the stereotypes ...
    Last edited by Finelikeanoyster; 8th November 2019 at 03:26 PM. Reason: a letter more
    Currently wearing: Tai Winds by Avon

  16. #16

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Hi Frag - I, too, use only all natural (per ISO 9235 definition of 'natural') and I had the exact same questions as you a few years back. I realized it really all boils down to perception/preference. I started my perfume adventure by using both synthetic and naturals, but I kept having an odd feeling about what I was creating. Not that the scents didnt smell good, but there's something about the original definition of perfume, 'through smoke...' that made me ask the question, 'what is MY perception of how perfume [should] effect the wearer. I believe naturals, the essences/spirit of plants, flowers, trees, resins, etc. do something to us that synthetic ingredients can't...at a cellular level. Yeah, I know, people can argue that a molecule is a molecule, but science readily admits it doesn't really know what 'life/spirit' really is.

    So, I decided I am willing to sacrifice not appeasing the average perfume shopper in favor of the person who feels a deeper affinity with scent...beyond just getting compliments on how they smell. Since deciding that, I've learned 'how to learn' more efficiently. For example, when reading about some famous perfumer or hearing the advice of a veteran, I have to qualify their advice based on my all natural approach/style. You would be surprised by how much advice differs (or should differ) if you're talking about all natural vs synthetic vs hybrid.

    Good luck and most of all enjoy this beautiful craft!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by Finelikeanoyster View Post
    Musk ketone is very beutiful material, their presence in many old perfumes is notable, is the soul to compound old perfumes, but the material itself not smell 'old', masculine or femine, because their presence are in both perfumes,same baby powder scent have this.

    Oh ! the stereotypes ...
    By the way for anyone who has tried musk ketone and then fell off of using it for whatever reason (I am one of those):

    I know there are a lot of old formulas that use musk ketone in high amounts, and fair enough. It's certainly a valid thing to do, and it's what I was doing when I was using it. Maybe not really high by the standards of some old perfumes, about 25 ppt limit I think, but certainly strong. I just at some point continually wound up deciding it wasn't the effect I was looking for and stopped even trying it.

    Three factors have me thinking I need to try it again except this time at microdosing or nearly so:

    The data shows it has an extremely low odor threshold. So it certainly can do something at a very low dose.

    And secondly although really just as a personal experience of the above, I remember my perfuming area of where I then lived leaving me either anosmic to or only weakly smelling musk ketone and discovering the issue only after thorough cleaning got rid of any traces of escaped powder anywhere. I could then smell it properly. This illustrates to me just how powerful it is.

    The third is, whether valid or not I'm "visualizing" that a really small amount will be a very real enhancer in many formulas getting most of their musk effect from other musks. Worth trying anyway.
    Last edited by Bill Roberts; 8th November 2019 at 05:42 PM.

  18. #18
    Basenotes Member Finelikeanoyster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old time perfume

    Yeah Bill, i had to agree with you, seeing formulas in tgsc, and a formula that i have, musk ketone is used about 30 parts to 1000. I do not had a chance to work with this in purely form, is good to know your experience. In true i had MK in a base, is not the main component, and i add ten drops of this base in 60ml of a perfume i didn't like. Same in this quantity the smell of MK is very present, especially in dry down, once that takes a good time to exhales.
    Currently wearing: Tai Winds by Avon




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