Comparison Between Natural and Synthetic Perfumes

Monday - 25 April 2016

As head of the Natural Perfumers Guild, founder of the Natural Perfumery Institute, and a perfumer who only uses 100% natural aromatics in my perfumes, I am often asked about the differences between natural and mainstream (contain synthetics) perfumes. I created the following chart years ago for my textbook, and it’s a good, quick reference on the subject.

Natural perfume

The bottle may hold natural or mainstream perfume. It’s the customer’s decision based on preferences, scent, price, or lifestyle whether to purchase it – or not.

Chart for Quick Comparison Between Natural and Synthetic Perfumes

  Natural Mainstream (contains synthetics)
Perfumer’s Goal: Beauty and Health Beauty
Aromatic Palette: Essential oils, concretes, absolutes, CO2s, tinctures, and infusions Primarily synthetic aromachemicals, minimal essential oils and absolutes
Number of Aromatics per Blend: 10 – 30 30 – 100+
Creative Process Goals: Blend to create unique classic artisan vision with top/mid/base notes For corporate perfumers: meet market demands; can use top/mid/base structure, or linear
Diluent: Typically undenatured alcohol; sometimes oil, cream, or solid base Typically synthetic denatured alcohol; solid, dry spray
Customer Experience: Perfume unfolds on skin, revealing layers of scent Strong aesthetic statement, trendy, or nod to vintage
Drydown time: 1  – 8 hours;base may persist for 24 hours 1 – 24+ hours
Cost per pound of undiluted compound: Extremely expensive; some aromatics are $10 – $100,000 per pound Very inexpensive; corporations insist on lowest cost; there are rumors of a $20 per pound limit
History: Link to ancient Egypt, historical figures, use naturals in both ancient and modern style blends. Link to ancient Egypt, historical figures, use of synthetics to replace naturals began in 19th century.
Diffusion of Scent: Arm’s length, slight sillage, unobtrusive Can scent an entire room; strong sillage
Known respiratory issues: Little or none. If you are allergic to roses, rose oil in a natural perfume might trigger an allergic response. Well-documented; some municipalities have enacted no-fragrance laws

I hope this guide will clarify some issues on natural versus synthetic perfumes. If you have any questions on this issue, feel free to comment.

If you want a quality education in natural perfumery, click here to read more. 

5 thoughts on “Comparison Between Natural and Synthetic Perfumes

  1. Be-en-forêt

    Hi Anya, I’ve been following your wonderful blog for quite a while. I thought you would like to know that it is currently displaying very poorly on my Sony Android device. Long, thin strings of words and some buttons are not working.

    Reply
    1. Anya Post author

      Hi

      I haven’t blogged in several months, and this is the first report I got about the problems viewing and the buttons not working, so thanks for letting me know. I’ll look at the site later on my cel and see what I’m viewing. I may have to get the webmistress to work on it.

      Anya

      Reply
  2. Marshalla

    Thank you for sharing this guide. As an entreprenuer of natural skin care, this was helpful because A. I didn’t realize that even the alcohol that mainstream perfume companies use are synthetic and B. The price difference between the price per pound for essential oils is compared to the synthetic grade.

    Keep lighting the way!

    Reply
  3. Corinne Walder

    what about allergies with synthetic perfumes…. that you sneeze for 15 minutes when somenone sprayed herself before going out : (

    Reply

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