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The Changing Role of Fragrance in Personal Washes

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor, Perfumer & Flavorist
Posted: January 12, 2009

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Naturals tend to be defined as plant extracts derived from cold pressing or steam distillation. Today, only a small percentage of the global perfumery palette is certified as natural, so you can imagine it is incredibly restrictive in terms of the amount of ingredients available and also price, as naturals are usually far more expensive.

IFF’s foresight years ago in acquiring high quality naturals’ producer Laboratoire Monique Remy has positioned us to lead efforts to increase IFF’s palette of unique naturals, by any definition. As the trend continues, our perfumers are responding in ever more creative ways.

It is interesting to note that the general public tends to equate the word “natural” with safety, but there are many natural toxins/allergens and many naturals need synthetic antioxidants to be safe. In some cases, synthetics are needed for the safe processing of naturals. So, the definition of naturals can be very dependent on how strict one has to be about not only the source, but also the processing (please refer to the Dec. 5, 2005 IFRA information letter #737).

If the idea is to preserve nature from a sustainability platform, IFF’s Nature-Inspired technology enables perfumers to reconstruct the natural smells of fruits, flowers and plants in the air without harvesting crops. In IFF’s botanical research gardens, the life cycle of thousands of botanicals are constantly studied. We understand how nature communicates with us through aroma and work to capture this communication to recreate nature’s essence for our customers. At the same time, we have unique capabilities when it comes to studying consumers’ actual perceptions of what is (or seems) natural to them.

P&F: Are there any technologies that are boosting the effects of personal wash fragrances?

Van Dyk: IFF has different programs in place that involve encapsulation of fragrance to deliver more fragrance to skin and hair. But as you can imagine, there are challenges such as deposition without aversely affecting the finished product and consumer perception in use. IFF also has programs involving encapsulation of fragrance to increase the “bloom” of the fragrance in use.

There is a definite gap between what consumers want and current levels at both of these stages. Many of the challenges are, of course, related to the cost of systems that will do this effectively and also the safety of any system in a product that is so intimate with the consumer.

P&F: How is the functionality of personal wash products being innovated/ improved?

Van Dyk: Innovations and improvements are being made to deliver: moisturization and skin care benefits; experiential color/texture/fragrances; more cost-effective formulations in the face of increasing raw material prices; odor neutralization for liquid hand soaps; and environmentally friendly refill packaging for liquids.

There has been significant activity in products that moisturize. For fragrance houses, it is a double-edged sword as the actives that moisturize suppress fragrance from the bottle or packet and in use. However, moisturizing agents do help more of the fragrance deposit on skin and stay there a little longer. It’s been necessary to adjust the way we create accordingly, especially to compensate for the suppression.