Around-the-world scented trip: perfume of South America

Perfume in South America comes from the heritage of ancestral traditions and a lush nature with incredible scents

Today we stamp your olfactory passport on the South America page. After Asia and Africa, we go over this territory rich in scents and colors through our noses! From the valleys of the Andes to the sprawling arms of the Amazon via the Colombian pampas, Latin America offers a journey full of contrasts. We suggest a mesmerizing stay to you during which your nostrils will be tickled by sweet and spicy scents. From ancestral Mayan traditions to the modern consumption of fragrances, discover the perfume of South America, an inspiring destination.

On the way to perfume of South America

Travelling in Latin America means opening your nostrils wide to a lush vegetation full of aromas and scents. But this territory is not just about its wonderful ecosystem. Landing on this continent is also the promise of encounters, joys and colorful and spicy festivities!

South America: a perfume of nature

South America’s greatest olfactory and aromatic richness undoubtedly comes from nature. An abundant and titanic heritage offered by the largest tropical forest in the world: The Amazon rainforest. It is characterized by exceptionally varied biotopes that are home to about a quarter of the world’s plant species. A true source of inspiration for all perfumers. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 plant species with scenting powers coexist in this environment. Only 400 of them are used in perfumery today. So, the scope of possibilities, discoveries and creations is still very wide!

Stroll in the rainforest

Impossible to describe a single odor to sum up this concentrated nature. On a cruise along the Amazon River, you first observe the profusion of vegetation in a forest that never seems to end with ferns, orchids, lianas, mosses and other gigantic trees. Accompanied by a background sound dictated by the songs of multicolored birds, you will plunge into this lush jungle. A warm and humid scent of undergrowth seems to come out of the ground.

In the heart of the tropical rainforest, between Brazil and Venezuela, you will find yourself on the lands of the Yanomami: an indigenous people who have made the forest their home. You will drink a refreshing beverage with sweet notes of mango, guava and honey that they produce themselves. At nightfall, it is the fragrant smokes of palo santo or burnt bark that will titillate your nose during ceremonies and other festivities. An initiatory journey with memorable scents…

Olfactory and gustatory journey

Our stay continues in the heart of the big cities of South America with the scent of laughter, food and the warmth of the inhabitants. In Mexico City, to escape the smoky ballet of incessant traffic, you enter the Coyoacan market. A fragrant spectacle is then offered to you. As you walk around the seafood, fruits and vegetables stalls, you will notice mounds of colorful spices. Paprika, jalapeños and pink pepper will be perfect to spice up a chimichurri sauce that will make your taste buds tingle! All these smells are seriously starting to make your mouth water. Burrito, quesadilla, empanada, taco… Let yourself be tempted by an antojito, (a “little craving” in Spanish) to end this gustatory and olfactory journey.

From left to right: the colorful Coyoacan market in Mexico City, the Amazon rainforest, land of the Yanomami Indians and the jalapeños, the main ingredient of the local cuisine.

The use of perfume in South America

Scented traditions

For thousands of years, South America has been a source of surprising smells and aromas. These vast lands and its ancestral traditions have offered the Old World a multitude of hitherto unknown olfactory and gastronomic discoveries. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish conquerors, freshly landed on the Mexican coast, were welcomed by the Aztec emperor Montezuma. As a sign of welcome, he offered them a royal drink called “Tchocolatl”, a delicious beverage with chocolate and vanilla aromas. An olfactory heritage that will soon invade Europeans tables and noses. Although vanilla is now mainly grown in Madagascar, it remains a strong olfactory marker in Mexico. On the market of Papantla, a small Mexican town far from the tourist trails, you will find this black pearl in all its forms: liquor, perfume, bracelets, crosses and other amulets braided with pods.

While the sweet aromas of vanilla and fruits are widely used in gastronomy, the sacred and soothing power of fragrance is also a reality. According to the Maya, the body must be perfumed to be pleasant. The women make long necklaces out of splinters of Peruvian balsam and vanilla beans. They also hang trumpet liana flowers in their houses that give off an apricot scent. Ritual bath with orange nectar, coffee or maté body wrap or massage with mango balm are all fragrant traditions used by these civilizations.

Olfactory preferences

Nowadays, while in the West gourmand perfumes are still very successful, perfume is getting fresher in South America. Fragrances with floral and citrus notes are very popular in these countries where humidity and temperatures are rising fast. Fruits, flowers and spices thus become the favourite scented raw materials. The infatuation for these scents is also found in the beauty ritual of body care products: grapes, avocado, mango and Brazil nut butter provide moisture and delicately perfume the skin and hair. “Clean” smells also play a big part in perfume of South America. Even in the way of perfuming oneself, habits are changing. We mostly find “splash” bottles (as opposed to spray bottles) that accentuate this refreshing sensation even more.

Emblematic raw materials

Thanks to lands rich in natural raw materials, the perfume of South America inspires the perfume creators. The Noses are as passionate about exotic fruits and tropical plants as they are about legendary spices.

Tonka bean, a classic in perfume of South America

If the name of this small seed is now familiar in the West, you should know that it comes from Brazilian teak, a tree native to South America and the Caribbean. Today, the tonka bean is cultivated mainly in Brazil and Venezuela. Once harvested, the seed is dried and then soaked in alcohol before being dried again. Thanks to this process, crystals of coumarin, a natural component regularly used in perfumery, form on the surface. The seeds are then reduced to powder and extracted with volatile solvents to obtain the absolute. The smell of the absolute has different facets: animal, tobacco, vanilla bean. A scent that is found in our floral and solar fragrance ippi patchouli clair.

The Peruvian balsam

Peruvian balsam is a colossal tree native to El Salvador, found in the “Cordillera des Balsamo”. Its name has remained since colonial times when the balsam was exported from Peru to Europe. The balsam comes from the thick brown resin of the tree. It is harvested by the “Balsameros” who sometimes climb to more than 20 meters high to cut into the trunk. The collectors then place a tissue over the incisions, which will become full of resin after a few weeks. The tissues are then mixed with crushed bark to be pressed and purified. In addition to its medicinal powers praised by Amerindian legends, Peruvian balsam is renowned for its rich scent, characterized by sweet, slightly animal notes with hints of leather and vanilla.

Pink pepper

Pink pepper comes from South America. It is the pink berry harvested from the false pepper plant, a species of tree that grows in Peru and Brazil. From a taste point of view, these pink berries have a similar taste to pepper but they are less powerful. Pink pepper is widely acclaimed in perfumery, especially in a top note to give a real olfactory “boost” by bringing freshness and a peppery facet to a fragrance. Its shades go wonderfully well with citrus fruits in particular. Perfumers use pink pepper essential oil, obtained from the distillation of dried and crushed berries. It is also possible to obtain the essence through CO2 extraction. This fresh and aromatic accent can be found in our eau de parfum alõ.

From sweet smells to spicy scents, you now know all the olfactory richness of South American perfume. Do not unpack your suitcases just yet! We look forward to seeing you next month for another fragrant stopover…

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