Scent of a Woman
At Element 8 we have a dilemma; to add a fragrance or not to our products. We have been making our restorative and hydrating moisturiser without a fragrance as it fits our ethos – fragrances can be problematic as they can cause skin irritations, but women (and men) like nice smells.
The constituents of fragrances are rarely (if ever) listed on an ingredients list and this is one of the problems that we have with incorporating a fragrance. You would be surprised at the length of the list of chemicals that would be included on a product if it was mandatory to list the components of a fragrance. It isn’t a mandatory regulation however and simply putting the word ‘fragrance’ on an ingredients list is sufficient to meet current regulations. We feel this should be looked at and it may well be as people become more aware of the issues surrounding the use of fragrance.
However, what is the first thing a woman or a man does when they pick up a new skin care cream? Yes…. smell it. It is the most natural thing to do – we are emotive species and our sense of smell is perhaps our most powerful sense. Scents can conjure up special memories, awaken our spirit, and contribute positively to our sense of well-being and happiness. All good things. Smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas (the amygdala and hippocampus) that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory. Visual, sound and touch information does not pass through these brain areas. This may be why smell, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.
So we are torn. We have an excellent perfumer on board with us ready to formulate a luxurious scent at our request. At the moment we are leaning towards incorporating a fragrance into our facial moisturiser. Marija (from Parfumarija, Westbury Mall in Dublin) is a trained perfumer, having learned her craft in Grasse, the traditional home of perfume in the South of France. We questioned whether we could incorporate a natural fragrance or not and, according to her, natural oils (due to their complex molecular structure) are much more unstable and tend to behave irrationally in different weather environments – therefore they may alternate into something irritable for the skin. They can separate more easily from the face cream base and they can also change smell more easily. Synthetic ingredients are man-made and much more stable, it is known exactly how they behave in different environments simply because to have a safe synthetic ingredient eligible for production and sale, approved by EU authorities, they must comply with certain rules protecting the consumer.
Our research suggests that if we want to promote our brand as a luxury beauty product then it needs to have a scent that our customers enjoy. If we decide to make a fragrance free version of the same product, the problem becomes cost unfortunately. They will be counted as two separate products for a manufacturing facility – thus doubling our costs. We are a small start-up company with a vision – we don’t have the capital available to us that we would like so this is an important decision for us as we take the next step forward. To add a fragrance or not?
If you have any comments, advice, opinions to make on this topic it would be appreciated.