Fragrances today are mostly a fusion of ingredients taken from nature – or inspired by nature – together with the synthetics (man-made ingredients) that are used to make them last longer, ‘carry further’, or stay ‘true’, when worn on the skin.Here, you can read about literally hundreds of the different perfume elements in use today.(Lots of perfume notes work ‘synergistically’ in this way, which is why perfumery is such a complex art.) You may also be familiar with it from body products and even fabric conditioners: Cashmeran™ ‘clings’, and doesn’t rinse out well, leaving traces of its sensuality on the skin after showering, or your bedlinen after laundry day.Smell Cashmeran in: Boucheron Jaïpur Bracelet Burberry Body Editions de Parfums Frederick Malle Dans Tes Bras Philosophy Love Thierry Mugler Womanity Tom Ford White Patchouli A fragrance without roses is almost as unthinkable as a love affair without kisses.Smell sequoia in: Beyoncé Heat Comme des Garçons Sequoia Jo Malone London Black Vetyver Café Much was made, not long ago, of the discovery on a British beach of a whacking great lump of greyish-beige waxy material – which turned out to be worth thousands of pounds.That was ambergris, one of the most valuable and legendary ingredients in perfumery, prized for its ability as a fixative, to enhance a fragrance’s staying power by anchoring the more volatile ingredients, and ‘round it out’. Yes, really: ambergris is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales - to make it easier for the whale to digest shard objects (like squid beaks), so it’s thought. If not, they travel further down the gut and are covered in ambergris: a sticky, gelatinous material which dries to a lump with a resinous texture and then floats on the surface, ending up on beaches in places like South Africa, the East Indies, China, Japan, New Zealand – even Dorset.(Hence citral is one of the few perfume ingredients you may see listed on the box your scent’s packaged in).
(It also helps to develop rose notes, in soap-making.) Unfortunately, the downside of citral is that it can lead to sensivities and allergies – so IFRA (the International Fragrance Association) regulates that it has to be used only with other ingredients that prevent a sensitising effect, and insist it’s labelled.Smell honeysuckle in: Annick Goutal Eau de Camille Annick Goutal Le Chevrefeuille Britney Spears Believe Cartier Cartier de Lune Crabtree & Evelyn Gardenia Fragonard Fragonard Fresh Brown Sugar Givenchy Organza Eau de Toilette Katy Perry Meow Lanvin Arpège Dior Les Creations de Monsieur Dior Diorella Marc Jacobs Dot Michael Kors Island Nina Ricci L’Air Taylor Swift Wonderstruck Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Vera Wang Vera Whoosh!That’s the zesty, lemony burst of citral, a natural aldehyde which is present in the oil of quite a few plants, including lemon myrtle, lemongrass, lemon tea tree, lemon verbena, lemons themselves, limes, as well as orange and petitgrain (the flower of the bitter orange).When it’s first produced, it’s useless as a fragrance ingredient - definitely faecal, at that point.As it ages, the smell matures and develops beautifully, and before it can be used perfumery, it must be diluted with alcohol.Not only are roses the most romantic of flowers to look at: they’re an absolute cornerstone of perfumery - the most important flower of all, from the point of view of a nose: sometimes powdery, sometimes woody, musky, myrrh-y, clove-like, sometimes fruity, or just blowsily feminine – but always, intensely romantic.