Tracking the scent

Tracking the_scent_3For today’s perfumers, society has become the muse, and the creation of scents an art form. Consumer demand is placed at the forefront of innovation, steering trends, development, functionality and regulations.

When it comes to fragrance, everything revolves around emotion. This is according to Adam Owen, director of O6 Agencies, who says that emotional values, making time for positive thinking and dreams, and the desire to feel good are all increasing in importance in this industry. ‘So too is the trend of merging technology into our personal lives, fashion garments, and accessories. These trends inspire our perfumers to push the norm,’ he says.

O6 foresees fragrances mixing exotic floral and fruity notes with scent compounds that mimic elements such as freshly laundered linen and white truffles. He adds: ‘The influence of Arabic or Oriental notes in personal care is still on the rise. Thus for 2014, fruity notes will become less sweet and more sophisticated, such as the use of fruity yoghurt notes and more powered florals. Unusual scents will also be more popular, like green tomato leaf and caladium leaf, which add appealing twists to functional personal care fragrances.’

Owen believes unisex fragrances are the popular option for functional fragrances to broaden the usability of shower gels, soaps and body lotions. Using fresh marine elements, with touches of subtle oriental florals, citrusy fruits and soft woods, has wider appeal, enabling consumers to purchase one item that can be used by all in the household.

Wesley Perumal, fragrance specialist at L’Oréal South Africa, states: ‘The female olfactive trend is predominantly floral oriental and floral fruity. It does, however, have a few twists with florientals (floral orientals) merging with gourmand facets to creating floriental gourmand perfumes, such as Si by Giorgio Armani.’

As for men’s fragrances, the Fougère aromatic families still remain dominant, followed by a strong tendency towards oriental woody scents. Gourmand notes also add intensity to male-focused formulations while strong, vivid scents driven by Eastern markets are making themselves known.

Regulatory changes

As consumer awareness grows, so does the trend towards using fragrances that are free from all of the current 26 listed allergens that can be used to create fragrance compounds. ‘The request for hypo-allergenic has become the norm, specifically with spa products as well as high-end facial and body care products,’ says Owen. ‘In an effort to offer a wider range of sophisticated hypo-allergenic fragrances, a massive amount of time is spent developing allergen free synthetic aroma chemicals, which allow our perfumers to create scents that are safer for sensitive skin, meet consumer demand, and, at the same time, are compliant.’

The European Commission’s proposed regulation changes pertaining to fragrance allergens, ingredients listings and research could have a major impact on the fragrance industry by as soon as the end of this year. The formal adoption of these changes would force perfumers to reformulate certain fragrances at a notable expense to the market.

The proposed changes were based on a report given by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) at the Commission’s request. The report identified three allergens to be unsafe: atronol and chloroatranol found in popular perfume ingredients, such as oak moss and tree moss; and HICC – a synthetic molecule used to replicate the lily of the valley aroma. It’s proposed to ban such allergens from cosmetic products.

The SCCS recommended drastically reducing the use of a number of natural extracts, and restricting the concentration of certain chemical substances, such as citral found in tangerine and lemon oils, and eugenol found in rose oil, to 0.01 per cent of the finished product. In such cases, the Commission saw the need for further scientific work in order to define safe limits.

In terms of creating greater consumer awareness regarding the presence of additional allergens in the cosmetic product, it was suggested that such allergens should be subject to the obligation of individual labelling on the packaging. In other words, they have to be mentioned in the list of ingredients, in addition to the words ‘parfum’ or ‘aroma’.

Ingredient sourcing in fragrance development

When sourcing raw materials, a sustainable approach is key. ‘All of the major fragrance houses are investing large sums of money in their sustainable ingredient sourcing programmes,’ says Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for Estee Lauder. ‘It is necessary not only for the good of the Earth and the people involved, but also for the fragrance industry as a whole in order to ensure that land and resources are applied to the agriculture used in perfumery.’ Owen adds: ‘The drive for sustainability, environmental awareness and a reduced footprint sees our perfumers using ingredients that are kinder to the environment and can be sourced with minimal impact.’

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