Three (not so synthetic) iconic molecules of perfumery

You may have heard of these perfumery molecules before, but do you know about their natural origins…

Molecules are synthetic ingredients which are sadly too often associated as “something bad” in people’s minds, but did you know that a lot of these molecules are present in nature? These molecules are called nature identical and some can even be organically certified (uh?). Synthetic ingredients constitute the lion’s share of the perfumer’s organ and often help to make natural ingredients stand out in original compositions. In some occasions, molecules can even be rarer and more expensive than naturals. So how can molecules not be so synthetic after all?
We’ve selected three iconic ones and explain where they come from.

HEDIONE – Floral, Heart Note

From the Greek word ‘hedone’ which means pleasant, we can safely say it most certainly is. Synthesised in 1962, hedione is in fact present in natural Jasmine extracts and is frequently used to recreate jasmine notes in fragrances. Perfumers even go as far as to call this molecule “transparent jasmine”. It carries fresh, floral, citrus and green notes that some say reminds them of magnolia blossom and jasmine tea. One of its first noticeable use was in the famous Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior, a fresh citrus fragrance for men with floral accents that makes it also attractive to women.  Hedione is easy to use in fragrance due to its very light and airy character, so fear not…

AMBROXAN – Ambery, Base Note

Ambroxan is synthetised from ‘Sclareol’, a molecule naturally extracted from the essence of clary sage. Ambroxan (also known as ambrox) is a fascinating molecule that has warm woody, leather and spicy facets. It leaves a lasting, creamy, musky impression with a slight animal tonality. With an inviting, warm and ambery sweet smell it blends well with woody and oriental fragrance. A modern “Amber Gris” that is beautiful and sexy yet very subtil. It is loved so much as a stand alone scent that Escentric’s fragrance uses it solely in its ‘Molecule 02’.

COUMARIN – Edible, Base Note

It was discovered in 1860 and is traditionally used in a fragrance structure called ‘Fougere’. Coumarin is naturally present in tonka bean as well as vanilla, grass, strawberries, cherries, sweet clover and cassia cinnamon. In it’s powder form coumarin has a long lasting smell of almond, marzipan, vanilla, coconut and cherry. When diluted, soft hazelnut and almond facets shine through underneath a hay smell. It’s popular for invoking warm notes of tobacco, which have helped it become influential in masculine fragrances.

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