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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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Consumer expectations for product efficacy require understandable, credible ingredient stories and a fragrance that reinforces the product promise. As deep moisturization becomes increasingly important, consumers seek out natural ingredients on the label that have a skin-hydrating effect and they look for the science to prove it. The fragrance created for those products will have olfactive cues for moisturization and soft skin to help tell the story. Furthermore, those fragrances can and will be technically stable and offer long-lasting effects, if that is what the product promises. The men’s market is also becoming very important in personal wash with more and more care products, rather than just for cleansing.

New product development in personal wash is more active in the liquids category with novel products having food-like texture, color and fragrance. On the experiential side, we’ve seen smoothie or whipped cream-type dual-phase body washes and liquid hand soaps. This type of product is often fragranced with strong edible notes. On the functional side, we’ve seen liquid hand soap claims for odor neutralization.

P&F: Our editors have reported that some companies are looking to the nutraceutical and supplement markets for ingredient trends to apply to the personal wash arena. Are you seeing that?

Van Dyk: Yes. While IFF’s technical and R&D teams assess areas such as nutraceuticals for their potential, the global marketing and consumer insights teams work together to discover the next hot ingredients that consumers are going to look for in personal care. Fortunately, we are able to gauge consumer interest and acceptability and discover how these ingredients are associated with various product benefits. Inspiration for these ingredients may come from the nutraceutical or supplement markets as well as a variety of other sources.

Clients frequently ask what benefits can be added through the fragrance, and IFF perfumers can help to an extent. But fragrance is normally in a finished product formulation at 1% or less, so adding a vitamin or antioxidant, for example, to a fragrance to obtain a meaningful level in the finished product would take up a lot of space in the fragrance formulation. And there may be more efficient ways of adding these supplements. Of course, one class of supplement we are often adding—and this relates to naturals—is essential oils.