The best perfume for cosmetic and personal care formulas

It’s not coincidence that most cosmetics and personal care products are scented to appeal to our sense of smell. For many consumers, a product deemed to have the best perfume is the one they will buy.

When developing a new product, it is important to find the best perfume for your formula. This could be the difference between consumers buying the product and it remaining on the shelf.

Although packaging makes the first impression on a consumer, when it comes to cosmetics and personal care, fragrance is as important as a product’s efficacy and tangibility.

So how do you choose the best perfume for your formula?

Although fragrance trends are always changing, a constant in personal care are floral notes. A couple of factors to consider before choosing a fragrance for your formula however include: demographic, season and suitability.

Demographic: Who is your target market? Women? Men? Both? Young? Old?

Floral scents such as jasmine, gardenia and rose are often favoured in females formulas, while leather, spicy and woody notes are used in masculine lines. And unisex products call for a mid-floral scent with woody notes, such as complementary notes of amber and spices or classic rose and new woods.

Young female consumers prefer sweet scents. However, as they are fickle, they will try a variety of products and fragrances. Older demographic groups prefer classic scents and once they’ve decided on a product and fragrance they like, they are more likely to stay loyal to it.

Is your product seasonal? Products that are used primarily in summer, or the warmer months of year, call for light, fresh, citrus and green notes. During the cooler months we tend to gravitate towards warmer notes, such as amber, vanilla, woods and spices.

Product suitability: Floral and fruity notes are often used in bath products and body care. A scent that lasts is often called for in haircare, while you don’t want anything overpowering in facial skincare. Your delicate creams and lotions call for just a splash of a very light perfume, for example fragrances under Fresh notes on the fragrance wheel.

Also, when developing a line of products, consider a range of scents that work together when layered, as one scent may not suit all products in the one collection.

Evaluating a fragrance

Skin chemistry and diet can produce variations in scent. This is why scents smell different on different people. So, when evaluating fragrances for your product line, apply to the skin as well as non-skin surfaces.

Firstly, apply a few drops or a light spray to pulse points, ie wrists and neck, as they emit heat and help to diffuse the fragrance. As mentioned, perfume reacts differently on everyone, so also test it on blotting paper or tissue. If you want the scent to linger, mist on clothing or hair.

It takes two hours for a fragrance to fully evolve on the skin. The top notes are the first aromas you will smell. Over the next hour the middle notes, or heart, opens up. This is followed by the heavier base notes that tend to linger on the skin.

Synthetic v natural

Natural and synthetic fragrances are equally important to perfumers. Synthetic oils enhance natural essences and make them sparkle with new notes, while adding originality, character and tenacity to notes from nature.

The first designer to encourage synthetic notes was Coco Chanel. The result was Chanel No 5, a bouquet dominated by soft, clean notes of synthetic aldehydes entwined with jasmine and may rose.

According to perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, “Often a synthetic smell is more beautiful that a real one.” His reasoning, when a flower is picked, it only smells good for a day or so. With synthetics, a perfumer can achieve the same aroma as the natural ones and leave the flowers in the field.

Fragrance wheel

Michael Edward’s Fragrance Wheel allows you to see at a glance the relationship between the 14 different scent families. For example, Florals become Soft Florals when blended with sparkling aldehydes and balanced by a powdery drydown. And Soft Florals become Floral Orientals by adding a dash of orange blossom and sweet spices.

Fragrance wheel courtesy of

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