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Creating Effective Natural Fragrances

By: Helen Feygin, Intuiscent
Posted: June 1, 2007

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Natural personal care is no longer a small niche business. Major multinational consumer goods companies are joining this lucrative field by buying companies with established natural/organic environmentally conscious positioning. L’Oréal acquired The Body Shop; Clarins bought into Kibio, the French organic beauty company; Estée Lauder owns Aveda; and Dr. Hauschka products are now on the shelves of Bath & Body Works.

The opportunities are enormous, but fragrance companies need to be aware that the more prevalent the trend, the more demanding the consumer. Gone are the days when one could call a product “natural” 27 by adding some natural extracts, known as “green dusting” the product. The natural personal care product needs to be truly natural, and that means incorporating a natural fragrance.

What is “Natural”?
There is an understandable level of confusion across the industry as to precisely what constitutes natural and organic. In the United States there are no regulations for calling a product “natural.” The term has not been defined in the FDA regulations or in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. There are national standards regarding use of “organic,” but they do not apply to personal care products.

In fact, the FDA at one point issued a short-lived ban on the use of the “organic” term for personal care. Careful not to betray the trust that consumers place in their products, manufacturers use natural ingredients that fit their own definition and may ask for “natural fragrance” certification from fragrance suppliers. Burt’s Bees, for example, labels all of its products with a bar that depicts the amount of natural materials in a product. Of course, natural certification is based on producers’/vendors’ certification of natural ingredients that go into the manufacture of a finished product. How accurate this standard is depends entirely on the integrity of the producer.

Ideally, such a process seeks to address the natural consumer’s belief system, which states: