The vegetal trend tickles the perfumery with ingredients of fresh, moist and rosy tones. These natural and springtime scents evoke the smell of wet grass, cut stems or crumpled leaves. They immediately transport you to the heart of a green and authentic landscape. But what is behind these green notes? How do perfumers manage to recreate this sensation of nature, a symbol of renewal and optimism? Discover the secrets of this multifaceted olfactory color.
The green notes: a perfume of renewal
The green notes are all the rage from the middle of the 20th century. Before that time, heavy and animal scents were favored by the noses. The first green compositions appeared after the Second World War. It is the couturier Pierre Balmain who will try the first. And for this, he will call upon the chemist and first French feminine perfumer, Germaine Cellier. The house signed Vent Vert in 1947. This fragrance marks a real turning point in the world of perfumery with an hitherto unknown wake. We find there the essence of galbanum in overdose, associated with the basil, which distils a very intense green perfume, almost creaking. This creation will pave the way to other compositions in the same wake with green and chypre accords, just as avant-garde for the time.
The use of green notes in perfumery echoes a generation in search of renewal and an energetic youth in this post-war period.
And as the Perfume often reflects history, the green notes will appear again in the 1970s. This decade is indeed marked by a period of contestation and movements initiated by a new youth that wants to shake up the codes. The desire for a return to nature is strong. And if patchouli became the emblem of this generation, a green wave also washed over the perfume industry. The noses are working on new notes such as honeysuckle or petitgrain. They also highlight other raw materials such as blackcurrant or hyacinth.
With the arrival on the market of gourmand perfumes, green notes will be relegated to the background. It is finally at the dawn of 2010 that they will return to the forefront. This time will be marked by a desire for neutrality and a need for change, new environmental concerns and a return to basics. The green notes will then become softer and less radical, with fruity and floral shades.
Green notes in perfumery
Does green have a smell?
Scent of dew, grass after the rain or the vegetal freshness of a summer evening, green notes evoke memories and olfactory sensations like no other. They confer to the compositions pure, lively and fresh nuances that bring a lot of dynamism and softness at the same time. This “olfactory color” is of course inspired by nature and all the facets it has to offer us, whether aromatic, herbaceous or even powdery.
Despite its apparent simplicity, the vegetal note is difficult to handle. In too small quantity, its volatile notes will quickly fade away in favor of other more powerful ingredients. Too concentrated, they will become bitter and squeaky. The work of the perfumer thus consists in using them in touch to put the green in bottle, without falling in the mawkish. Often positioned in the top or middle notes of the olfactory pyramid, green notes allow a fresh take-off, crossing the composition with an elegant and timeless scent. Green fragrances appeal to both men and women.
Natural green notes
To recreate these green notes and transpose nature into the bottle, the nose can directly address Mother Nature. The iconic raw material of the vegetal note remains galbanum. This plant, also known as “gummy ferrule” is native to Iran and Afghanistan. In perfumery, the roots of this plant are incised to collect a kind of resin that is then distilled to obtain galbanum essence, a material with a very strong scent. Its powerful perfume releases an earthy green note, which reminds the undergrowth. Galbanum is reminiscent of fresh peas with a damp and peppery accent. Here again, the perfumer’s work must be precise because galbanum can quickly become unpleasant and bring a rough side.
Other green notes can also be used. This is the case of blackcurrant bud, a very expensive raw material with a sour and sulphur smell. As for the violet leaf, it does not give off a floral scent, but rather a green, powdery and earthy perfume. Rarer, the mastic tree is a plant whose branches and flowers are distilled to deliver a raw material with a green and fresh flavor.
Synthesis reproduces Mother Nature
But when nature refuses to deliver its perfume, synthetic chemistry comes to the rescue by reproducing and/or creating new facets. Perfumer can thus draw from synthetic molecules, and in particular cis-3-hexenol. Behind this complex name lies a very fresh, plant-like scent with fruity accents and a wet look that evokes cut grass. This ingredient is also used to reproduce fruity notes such as strawberry or apple. Styrallyl acetate is a molecule often found in green and citrusy fragrances. Its perfume gives off sparkling notes and an impression of rhubarb. Finally, we also think of phenylacetic aldehyde, used to simulate the smell of a green leaf, with honeyed undertones.
If the green notes do not constitute an olfactory family in their own right, they are very easily integrated into many compositions. They are often found in flowery creations; we speak about a green floral perfume. This type of fragrance combines a floral bouquet with green notes to give it freshness and vivacity. The green notes also blend very well with chypre and aromatic woody notes. The nose can also play with watery green notes thanks to cucumber (found in alõ), lotus or even bamboo stem.
Carrément Belle and the green notes
At Carrément Belle, green notes are used in some of our fragrances to invigorate them and bring a bit of
grass nature in our creations.
The floral-green: label rose
The eau de parfum label rose is a luminous and springtime fragrance. If it puts the Damascena rose at the middle of its composition, it starts on a green and fiery note. We find blackcurrant and its sparkling, very lively and almost bitter side. It goes well with the violet leaf, an ingredient with an herbaceous scent and sweet and elegant notes. Associated with woody tones and fruity nuances, label rose is a real bouquet that plays with colors, between pink and green!
Coffee color and green notes with alfred kafé
The eau de parfum alfred kafé is savored like a coffee before a nap, taken in the shade of a cedar tree. This composition blends the powerful aroma of coffee with lavender, green and aromatic notes. A great program to awaken all your senses! In the middle of this lavender field, you will find a fresh perfume thanks to the mint, and a green and flowery scent with the tagetes. This flower native to the plains of South America delivers an essence that evokes green apple and chamomile. The base of alfred kafé will take you in a woody and balsamic wake.
Now that you know all about green notes, what are the scents that you like to find in your perfumes?
Discover the fragrances mentioned in the article