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Scent Sleuth: Fragrant Translations

Nancy C. Hayden

An exhilarating fragrance experience is a primary goal of today’s bath and body products. Sensual lift and a mood elevation are the messages sent either subliminally or overtly to lure the consumer into purchasing products. This total experience in the bath and body world is more easily achieved through in-store presentations.

The store experience is intended to dazzle, to take the customer to a visually imaginative place with its tactile presentation of color, graphics, inventive names and destinations with gorgeous, sexy models. Yet, these elements require the fragrance to tie it all together, in order to truly captivate the consumer.

Back to the Base

In the past, extension products were most often derived from alcohol-based fragrance creations, and these fragrances were often compromised because of the base formulation. Fragrance can express the efficacy of any product, but in many fragrance line extensions, the fragrance identity is far off because of incompatibilities with base materials and chemicals.

The citrus notes were always a problem to translate into emulsion systems, as were some of the sharp green plant-like notes, such as hyacinth, muguet and galbanum. The fruity and gourmand notes have taken over in the bath and body market because they have a persistence and identity while providing excellent coverage for any base note problems.

In a bath and body product, one of two things is true: the fragrance drives the theme or the theme drives the fragrance. The realm of gourmands and exotic fruits gives way to the creativity of fragrance notes or captives. This trend in bath and body lines often becomes an inspiration to the alcohol-finished colognes and perfumes.

The fragrance industry has, of late, highlighted an enormous return to the natural notes. Green notes as a trend are coming on strong, signifying the natural organic holistic approach. Homeopathic medicine has seen a society-wide resurgence, bringing with it a return to natural homeopathic fragrance.

Creating a Feeling

Certain perfume notes exude an emotional reaction, such as citrus creating thoughts of fresh, bright and clean; refreshing green notes associated with refreshing, invigorating and soothing; and spices inviting a connection with feelings of warmth. Woody notes are described with words such as soothing and relaxing, while florals are associated with bright, luxurious and beautifying.
Within these categories, myriad scents have been isolated from many new and exotic plant materials.

For example, cucumber has many aspects to its scent. It can be twisted to exude fruitiness or twisted toward its vegetable notes, thus allowing the creation of fantasy fruit and vegetable notes. Many of the same aldehydes exist in plants in nature. Unlimited scent combinations are available to marketers due to a diversified palette of raw materials for perfume houses to draw from.

Escape was one of the first major fragrance launches to build its theme around the melon watery ozone notes. The idea was taken from many of the bath and body products with an aloe-cucumber-melon theme, becoming a grandparent on the family tree of fragrance categories. From that note came hundreds of fragrance takeoffs, thus described as the “Escape type.”

Conversely, there is the ANGEL category of woody amber orientals. The vanilla notes and woody depth of this fragrance has tremendous covering power and depth within bath and body products. Vanilla and musk are primordial, leading to their tremendous staying power. Victoria’s Secret capitalized on this fragrance type in the creation of many of its bath and body products.

The gourmand note is being twisted in unlimited directions through combinations of exotic fruits and florals. This is a perfect full-bodied base—often with the sweetness of vanilla, amber and musk—for a unique statement.

It seems as though the creativity of fragrance has been propelled by personal care products capitalizing on the intense trend toward the beauty benefits of foods, fruits and natural products. As a health-driven society, the era of exotic fruits and plants in perfumery is just beginning. Romance and sensuality can now be created from nature, thus transporting the mind to a holistic and mysterious realm while treating the body. Personal care is taking advantage of the mystique of fragrance by adding a twist that is reinvigorating the fragrance industry as a whole. 

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