Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Webinar Q&A - Fragrance

This is the third set of questions from the June 5 webinar. Be sure to see all the posts.

Here are two questions about fragrancing natural products.

  1. How do you view fragrance ingredients in terms of natural v. synthetic?
  2. How does the European Union list of 26 allergens in essential oils affect your aroma blends?

Click on the word "comment" below to leave your response. Thanks for participating!

6 Comments:

Blogger Steve Herman said...

Natural products are derived from nature without intentional modification, usually by distillation, solvent extraction or expression.
Synthetics are made in the lab, and may or may not be the same as materials found in nature. If they are the same, they are called "nature identical". Naturals are mixtures, but individual components can be extracted and used separately (isolates).
Naturals are not necessarily safer than synthetics, and they can be harder to exactly categorize analytically. Naturals thus have some regulatory problems involving characterization, consistency and stability.

Organics involve more restrictions in growing involving the use of irrigation, fertilizer and pesticides. The most extreme restrictions, biodynamic, require only water or heat for extraction, no solvents, plus no fertilizer or pesticides.

The allergen list involves labeling, and is not a ban. Perfumers still use them most of the time because they include some of the most common and useful raw materials. If the customer prefers not to have allergens it may restrict the odor type or cost.
Most customers probably don't even know what the ingredient list on the product means anyway.

5:13 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger Karen said...

Thanks, Steve, for your well thought out and easily understood response.

6:07 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger Anya said...

Hi Kathy:
I had to miss the seminar today due to an emergency meeting, and I hope it will be available as a PDF or webcast.

Here's my take on your questions, to follow up on what Steve Herman wrote, filling in some gaps. His info was great, btw. I will focus on natural aromatics as used in perfumes and toiletries, as that is my area.

1. How do you view fragrance ingredients in terms of natural v. synthetic?

Natural aromatics have a complexity and richness due to their biological origins. They evolve in a staged manner on the skin, as opposed to synthetics, which tend to be more linear. Synthetics are typically one molecule.

Some natural perfumers use natural isolates of essential oils, but not many.

Natural perfumery is an exciting new field; despite comments that it was all done before in the 1800's and that synthetics created modern perfume, it may more correctly be said that in the 1800's the natural palette was limited. Additionally, the types of perfumes made then were rather simple according to today's tastes.

A modern natural perfumer can create sophisticated, modern perfumes. They mostly differ from modern perfumes in diffusivity and sillage (mentioned below.)

I have written for years about how naturals vary from year to year, due to the nature of their culture, i.e. soil, weather, harvest, extraction techniques, much like wine. Synthetics are able to be identical batch after batch, synthesized from coal tar in a lab.

Therefore, the same perfume from naturals may vary slightly. The natural perfumer tries to tweak to replicate the original, but no more than a vinter would. We work with what nature gives us, and are happy with it, in fact, the harvest may provide us with a more exalted product.

Naturals have moderate diffusivity and sillage. A person typically needs to be within three feet of someone wearing a natural perfume to discern it. Synthetics have increasingly been developed that diffuse over great areas, and can sometimes leave sillage that lasts for hours.

Natural aromatics need to be reapplied every few hours in most cases. Synthetics meet the demands of the consumer who wants many hours, or daylong lasting power.

2. How does the European Union list of 26 allergens in essential oils affect your aroma blends?

I believe that the 26 on the list also affect absolutes, and have a ballooning effect. Methyl eugenol is in many oils, from rose to basil to bay. I have blogged about this, and over 200 EOs and absolutes listed. IFRA compliance requires IFRA membership. If not a member, ostensibly the perfumer can use what they want. If the EU creates regulations from the guidelines, it may come to pass that any perfume not meeting the limits will not be allowed to be sold there, if I understand correctly.

Some naturals, like synths, can cause dermal problems. Naturls, unlike synths, rarely cause respiratory problems, and that aspect is not addressed in the guidelines/regulations, oddly.

Any sensible perfumer wants to produce a safe product. If a potential sensitizer is in a blend, a label should suffice, as with wine, cigarettes, even peanut butter.

Many perfumers feel that since you can get more linalool on your hands, thousands of times more, in fact, just by peeling an orange, than the guidelines/regulations would allow, it is time to revisit the guidelines, ask hard questions and hold off on any more are put in place.

In fact, perhaps roll back many of those that are in favor of labels.

Natural products are increasingly being demanded by consumers. A natural perfume with a synth in it is as unlikely to sell as a "100% cotton" shirt that states spandex on the label. There is a disconnect. Many perfumes on the market that say natural do, in fact, have synthetics. That is perhaps another area for labelling to make the consumer aware of what they are buying.

6:38 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger Karen said...

Thanks, Anya, for your great response. The webinar will be archived on the GCI web site on Wednesday, June 6. Presentations also will be available in pdf form.

7:14 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger Steve Herman said...

Natural perfume as Anya describes
is not what a large fragrance supplier can do with a major product, nor how fragrances must be made for functional products.
Natural perfumes can only be used in very limited distribution.
Regulation, quality consistency, price, and availability are crucial for mass market.
My company (Manheimer) and its parent (Mastertaste) have major commitments for organic materials and naturals, but it cannot be the bulk of the fragrance business.
Synthetics offer a greater creative range and are absolutely necessary in most functional applications.
I have taken a big initiative here on green fragrances, and environmental sensitivity can be shown with synthetics by understanding chemistry and available modeling tools.
The whole industry can't become natural or organic, but it can become green, and it is necessary to stop using "chemical" as a dirty word and to use science to make environmentally safer products.
Mastertaste has an organic farm in Brazil, we have the largest organic palette in the industry, and we are 100% behind the movement, but it is only part of the total green issue.

3:58 PM, June 07, 2007  
Blogger Anya said...

What Steve says about the natural perfume industry is true - niche, artisan perfumers can create the fragrances I describe, it would be near impossible for a mass production of same.

It is wonderful to hear about more large firms such as his own working towards a green policy, trying to source organics, etc. There's a piece of the pie in this business for all of us, and an increasing awareness of what everyone is doing helps fuel the momentum.

8:42 AM, June 08, 2007  

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