For thousands of years, people have safely enjoyed fragrance in their daily lives. We have come a long way since the Ancient Egyptians used scents in their rituals and ceremonies. With ever increasing technical knowledge on the identification, purification, and synthesis of scent producing molecules, perfumers work with a large and diverse palette of materials to formulate unique fragrances.
Today, fragrance creation is a meeting of science and art. A single scent may contain dozens, or even hundreds, of ingredients in carefully calibrated, and often minute, amounts. A perfumers’ palette no longer contains only natural essential oils, but also nature-identical, and synthetic fragrance materials. Nature-identical and synthetic fragrance materials are purer and more consistent in quality, as they are not affected by contaminants, fluctuations in weather, or a region of origin.
Fragrance mixtures are tailored for specific uses and product applications with the addition of functional ingredients. For example, fragrances intended for soaps or shampoos may, in addition to aroma oils, contain ingredients that allow the scents to be released on wet skin or to linger longer. Consumers have come to recognize specific products by fragrances themselves. And often times, fragrances help mask the unpleasant odors that would be otherwise present due to other product ingredients.
We value our traditions, but today our clients in the personal care industry and their consumers expect safety, innovation, and functionality in our fragrance products. That is why modern fragrances are created in close collaboration among perfumers, ingredient suppliers, and scientists, with science being the foundation of all our creations. Moreover, by working closely with regulators and legislators around the world, and by staying on top of evolving modern science, our industry sets strict safety and sustainability standards for our products and fragrance ingredients, and then tracks industry member compliance with these standards.
Individual fragrance formulas are unique, known to the individual perfumers who created them, and are protected by the intellectual property laws around the world as trade secrets. However, since our customers and their consumers desire more information about how fragrances are made and what ingredients we use to make them, our industry is becoming more transparent. We are currently engaged with stakeholders worldwide to find the way to be responsive to our customers, provide meaningful information to consumers, and still safeguard intellectual property of individual companies – fragrance formulas themselves – allowing us to compete in the marketplace.
Our fragrance industry is small, even compared to many of our individual customers, but we take pride in our efforts for touching the daily lives of people worldwide through products and scents they love and enjoy.
Written for Personal Care Truth by Dr. William R. Troy, President, Fragrance Materials Association of the United States
William R. Troy, Ph.D. holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology, as well as a Ph.D. in Experimental Pharmacology obtained from St. Johns University. He has a number of publications relating to safety evaluation aspects of fragrance materials, as well as to the fragrance industry and its operation.