False argument, false fight. The opposition between synthetic and natural is not correct, because both are needed in the composition of a perfume. However, the paradox of paradoxes is that nature is often the most problematic.
At the beginning of the perfume, there were only natural ingredients. Egypt produced the first spices, including the legendary kyphi. The scent of flowers is Greek, and the carrier is fragrant: olive oil. If the methods were first empirical, with maceration and enfleurage (deposition of petals in layers of fat to slowly absorb the aromas), new ones have come to invite themselves to work. Distillation is allowed. Regarding alcohol, it remains today the main thing, with often more than 80% of the composition.
The great innovations in perfumery were born with the progress of chemistry, which made it possible to provide new molecules, but to repackage the perfumes that could not be easily obtained until then. So the so-called silent flowers, such as the lily of the valley or the lilac, are not “given” by conventional techniques (enfleurage, distillation, etc.). These new molecules will naturally change the aroma.
Chemistry allows for boldness and imagination. In this sense, thinking of “old” perfumes is natural. The Guerlains used a lot of new chemical resources: coumarin and vanillin in Jicky, ethylvanillin in Shalimar… Aldehydes entered Chanel’s N°5, hedione innervates Eau Sauvage by Dior, calone gave its water note in Acqua Di Giò… Without chemicals, no more fragrances.
Breaking the neck of a priori
Evil will die. In this era of questionable food, there is an amalgam between food and spices. This is what Delphine Jelk, Guerlain perfumer said: if between eating an organic tomato and a prepared dish (with additives), there is no comparison, because the ingredients are completely different smell.
But the word “synthetic” refers to the word “chemical”, the same for those with bad quality and harm, since it is the real thing that is placed somewhere (allergens, photosensitization). In baby products there is nothing natural. The use of essential oils, by their natural origin, assures customers that they will forget about the dangers. In perfumery, nature is more of a problem than synthesis.
Love is about time
The current eats the organic matter, the green mind. The perfume, which is always found in nature, repeats and expands its use with products, in addition to pure olfactory qualities, adds a musical quality and allows stories to be told (the country of origin, customs, etc.).
For Guerlain, there is always a symbiosis between good natural products and chemical innovations. For the Aqua Allegoria collection, the brand has chosen to move to the ecological sector with refillable bottles made of recycled glass, choosing organic beetroot alcohol and 95% natural ingredients.
For Guerlain, Delphine Jelk has signed the latest Nerolia Vetiver opus. He explained these new options: “It’s a question of seeing how far we can go with natural things that have beauty, a vibration, but less stability, diffusion.” For him, depriving oneself of synthetics becomes a regression, a step back: “I need musks, hedione…”
Who are natural?
Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin, director of innovation and natural products at Firmenich, appreciates natural ingredients: “Besides their obvious olfactory value, I respect everything around them: the farmers, the producers, the entire chain and the continued heritage. I will never forget the people with their hands in the soil . Through these natural products, we also bring communities to life.”
The ARPP (Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority) reserves the term “natural” for products with 95% natural ingredients. There are two ISO standards that qualify them. The most famous one, ISO 16128, allows the use of synthetic products that are not known in nature, if they contain more than 50% renewable carbon! Stay with 5% where everything is possible (no blacklist).
More specifically, ISO 9235 certifies that all the raw materials used in the concentrate (mixed with alcohol) are natural. The conditions are not known to the public, relying only on the word “natural” that is used a lot.
The word “100% natural” alone guarantees that it is natural. Some small brands have opted for this very solid option, such as Floratropia or Ormaie. Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal, creators of Goutal, have chosen 100% natural products for their brand Voyages imaginaires, according to taste and willingness to take the challenge. Even less, the palette of natural ingredients is combined with less than 300 ingredients.
Isabelle Doyen says: “For sillage (important today), you have to think more, so the price of the formulas is higher. We respect the important regulations and we try to create a chic work, 100% natural, simple and beautiful, in organic grain alcohol.
Major brands are trying 100% natural products (standard 16128); so Chloé with Nomade – Natural Eau de Parfum. Caroline Dumur, IFF perfumer) created this little table:
“For this different project, we need to learn more to create a new balance, and force ourselves to look at the way we look at things. Bringing back nature at the center of the perfume. A these are beautiful things, but because of the perfume there is no hierarchy between the two. We have chosen to reattach the brand to the foundation of the house. The founder Gaby Aghion is Egyptian, we have included in jasmine grandiflorum from Egypt with a responsible harvest. Among others, sandalwood from New Caledonia, a date accord, vanilla… A vegan perfume without artificial colors.
When choosing natural products, the question of supply chains often arises: know where the products come from, under the conditions they are grown, modified. The big companies are very careful about the working conditions and give many signs in their product sheets on the basis, collection conditions, etc. In terms of carbon footprint, is it more “sustainable” than citronellol? These questions come up.
Some brands also have their own methods. Chanel has had an exclusive partnership in France with a rose producer, Mul, since 1987. Dior, along with the Domaine de Manon and the Clos de Callian, also has its own rose and jasmine gardens. Led by Ariane de Rothschild, the Caron house has chosen a team to ensure the quality of lavender (the main ingredient in Pour un homme) in France and vetiver from Haiti. For some things that are getting smaller, the companies have committed to replanting and replanting; This is the case for rosewood or sandalwood.
A new natural approach is very promising: upcycling, a form of recycling “from above”. Caroline Dumur at LMR (Laboratoires Monique Rémy, IFF) explained that new substances have been developed, such as Turmeric Root and Turmeric Leaf, notes obtained with substances obtained from unused turmeric leaves or an iris whose dry root can last. last to be used. At Caron, the new Pour un homme Soir has its oak note found with the waste wood used to make cognac barrels.
The future can be compared with suitable natural materials and synthetics derived from the development of green chemicals. For Fabrice Pellegrin, the future will arise in products from biotech, “such as ClearWood® or DreamWood®, made from the fermentation of natural sugars. It is the combination of science and nature that transforms the sugar into notes of patchouli or sandalwood.
“An example with our FirGood™ pear, ginger or lily of the valley, he continued. This new process can be produced without the use of new biomass, which has not previously been used in the natural products industry. Its 100% natural leather ingredients give it new olfactory names.
For the Jardin des Simples conceived by Roos & Roos, which honors three plants (nettle, wormwood and eucalpytus), Fabrice Pellegrin created Bel absinthe in honor of the green fairy (banned by like alcohol), because it is flavored with herbs and spices. synthetic notes with musks and DreamWood® (sandal side). The recorded form is combined with natural and synthetic.
And if science advances, a return to the old ways can come into play. The ecological project surrounding My Way (Armani) uses orange blossom found in enfleurage. A Drop by Issey Miyake recreates a muted lilac in synthesis, but surrounded by beautiful natural elements (red, orange blossom).
The spirit of the season is natural, in an ecological way and fulfills the new ideas of a customer to match the style. But pay attention to the percentage of natural ingredients. If the perfume says 85% natural when the alcohol is 80%, in the end there may not be much natural left.
There are many subtleties to understand if what you are buying is natural. To real lovers: 100% for all perfumes, the world does not have enough. Currently, some materials such as sandalwood are widely used in India, where they are not exported. Generally speaking, there is no war between them.
Fabrice Pellegrin concluded: “We need to stop believing that natural and synthetic are opposed, when it’s just a matter of how they balance each other in a way. It’s the responsibility of all players in the sector to understand , educate and communicate. It’s up to all of us, and the media, to spread the word.”