Material Study: The Use of Essential Oils and Terpenics/Terpenoids in Cosmetics and Perfumery

Throughout history, ancient civilizations (such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans and Chinese) used essential oils and their terpenics/terpenoids constituents as ointment or bathing for cosmetics purposes.1,2 This tradition survived, and today essential oils and their terpenics/terpenoids are still the most important natural products used by the cosmetic and perfumery industries.3,4

Today, technological forecasting is extremely valuable for companies and governments because it allows them to foresee future situations and environments.5 Currently, cosmetic and perfumery companies are investing in bioprospective research to fi nd new compounds to synthesize new lead products. Patents are the main mechanism used by companies to protect these investments.6,7 Due to a particular interpretation by the patent systems and legislatures, the combination of essences and chemical products for the elaboration of a fragrance or perfume are considered to be obvious — absent of inventive step (a pillar of the patent system). Thus, fragrances and perfumes are not protected through patents.

This work aims to show the relevance of elaborating a database consisting of patents through a study during the period 1980- 2003 about the cosmetic and perfumery uses of essential oils and terpenics/terpenoids compounds.8,9 Also, it is possible to identify technological areas, owners, inventors, varieties of essential oils, terpenics/terpenoids, etc.

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