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Clearing the Air: In Praise of Synthetics Part 2

Posted: January 22, 2008

In the January issue of Perfumer & Flavorist magazine, Steve Tanner (Arylessence Inc. president and CEO) discusses "Misconceptions Surrounding the Fragrance Industry." In his article, Tanner stresses the need for improved communication within and outside of the fragrance industry for the continued use of safe materials (both natural and synthetic). Unfortunately, as the media promotes all-natural fragrances as healthier for the consumer and the environment, synthetic fragrances are misperceived as unsafe. Here, P&Fnow chats with two Arylessence perfumers—Bruce Garlick and Heather Sims—to elucidate the benefits of synthetic ingredients and what the industry would look like if synthetics were lost from the palette.

P&Fnow: What are some of your favorite synthetic materials to work with and why?

Sims: Hedione is one of my favorite synthetic ingredients. It is so widely used in fragrances that it has become a building block of perfumery. Not only is it a beautiful jasmine and used to create beautiful white florals, but it has this ability with almost any fragrance that you use to provide a naturalness and smoothness. It can be used for almost any fragrance type—florals, woods, fruits.

Garlick: You see this ingredient used in men’s fragrances just as commonly as in women’s. In fact, the first commercial use of it was in Dior’s Eau Sauvage, a men’s fragrance.

My favorite synthetics are probably the rose ketones. I work primarily with alpha-damascone, beta-damascone and damascenone. What’s fascinating about these ingredients is how they can give strikingly different effects depending on the context in which they are used. For example, in Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, alpha-damascone and damascenone accentuate the rose accord, whereas in Juicy Couture the alpha-damascone gives the suggestion of green apple. In Burberry London for Men and Tom Ford’s Tobacco