In the age of slow cosmetics, of “clean” perfumes and the green trend, natural perfume is also becoming more and more present. But what does it mean exactly? And why is it different from a traditional fragrance? Between marketing arguments, innovation and concentration, we separate fact and fiction to lift the veil on this new trend.
What is a natural perfume?
The composition of the natural perfume
What distinguishes a natural perfume from a more traditional fragrance is the composition of the formula. Indeed, in the natural version, the perfumer will only integrate ingredients of natural origin. Their origin is essentially vegetable. Chemical compounds, whose origin is synthetic such as artificial musks or fixers for example, are thus excluded from the formulation.
The alcohol in the perfume can also be different. You should know that the vast majority of fragrances contain between 70% and 92% alcohol, depending on the type of fragrance you are using (eau de Cologne, eau de toilette, eau de parfum, essence de parfum…). But what is it used for? The use of a denatured alcohol (i.e. rendered unfit for consumption) serves as a base for distilling the aromatic components of the other materials used in the formula. The perfume concentrate will therefore be diluted in the ethyl alcohol. It will then remain on the skin for longer without damaging it. In a natural version, this alcohol is just as present, but it is generally an alcohol obtained from cereals, beetroot or sugar cane for example. At Carrément Belle, we use a natural alcohol made from beetroot.
The conception and the manufacturing of the perfume do not differ between natural and traditional. What changes is that the creator of natural perfume will use extraction processes that are the least denaturing possible. He can opt for the method of expression, that is to say a cold pressure of the citrus peel, an extraction with supercritical CO2 or a steam distillation. So many methods that can obtain certain plant essences. You will find in a natural perfume various odorous materials. We think of course about essential oils, but also of natural absolutes which are in fact concentrates of extracts of flowers or resins. There are also concretes, these semi-solid odorous products obtained by distilling a vegetable by volatile solvents.
So is natural perfume better than a traditional fragrance?
In the collective imagination, the natural aspect refers to positive and reassuring notions that seem good for the body. On the contrary, the synthetic is more divisive, it leads to the debate and to the questioning, it seems vaguer. However, the codes are a little more complex when it comes to perfume. Indeed, the natural notes are much more restricted. Mute flowers, fruits that do not deliver essence or elements that cannot be distilled (marine or gourmand scents)… The perfumer has a palette of about 500 natural ingredients against more than 5000 synthetic molecules.
Because of its formulation, a natural fragrance will also be much more volatile and change from one skin to another. A fragrance that incorporates synthetic products will be more stable and linear, with a more persistent wake. Nevertheless, if certain essences like those of citrus fruits evaporate quickly, other natural notes can also be very tenacious, like oud or patchouli.
What about organic perfume?
Natural, of natural origin, organic… So many names that can lead to confusion. It is important to know that a natural perfume that does not include chemical components in its formula is not necessarily organic. Indeed, the regulation of organic cosmetics is different. There are labels that allow a perfume to be qualified as natural. The criteria for organic are even more restrictive and are subject to other certifications and labels. The same is true for the notion of vegan fragrance, which excludes all use of raw materials of animal origin. However, these notes are almost all reproduced through synthesis today (except for ambergris which comes from the concretion of sperm whale). But a vegan perfume must not contain any component coming from beeswax or derivatives of the hive for example.
Our point of view at Carrément Belle
With patchouli from Indonesia in ippi patchouli or the essence of Damascena rose from Bulgaria in label rose, it has always been essential for us to use beautiful natural raw materials in each of our fragrances. Naturalness is alive and evolves over time, making the fragrance even more profound and magical. Moreover, these natural ingredients come from passionate growers who bring together several people with incredible know-how, which allow sustainable and responsible industries to flourish. As creators, we have a duty to put this work forward.
But since the beginning, we have always wanted to combine natural and synthetic ingredients. As we have already mentioned here, synthesis is a real boon for the perfumer: it allows him to broaden his palette with synthetic ingredients that are clean, stable and less allergenic than natural ones for sensitive skin. Synthetic molecules allow memories or olfactory inspirations to be brought to life to create a modern and original essence. The use of calone, for example, gives alõ a unique marine scent. Thanks to synthesis, we can also use white musk to envelop musc and the original musc in a sensual and wild caress, while protecting the animals from which this ingredient was derived at the time of its discovery.
There are many ways to do this and each designer is free to choose his or her path. At Carrément Belle, we believe that natural and synthetic form a wonderful couple, sublimating each other to offer you captivating fragrances that will take you on a journey throughout the day…
What do you think of natural perfume? Are you against perfumes using synthetic ingredients, or do you now understand better why?
Discover the fragrances mentioned in the article