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Smells good on you but like crapola on me. Why?

November 19, 2013

Have you ever wondered why an award-winning perfume or essential oil blend can smell absolutely rubbish on your skin but amazing on someone else?  Well according to Dr Craig Roberts of Stirling University, Scotland, it has to do with your body odour.

Craig is a senior lecturer in social psychology and has a passion for using his nose to sniff out the meaning behind social interactions – that sounds utterly fascinating and something that I’d LOVE to learn more about, wouldn’t you?

Anyway, speaking at the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) Fragrance forum in the UK recently Craig talked about how our body odour contains information which enables us to recognise other individuals.  That got me thinking about my children as babies and how amazingly powerful that fresh baby smell is in the bonding process. In the first few weeks even their poop smells good. Believe me…..

The key part of his talk was this realisation that a fragrance interacts with our body odour to become something else. This is something that many of us have witnessed but probably haven’t given that much thought to.   Chemically speaking fragrances have a tendency to interact with the pH of our skin, the oils (how much oil/ how old is it), bacteria, skin surface (rough or smooth) and more besides.  But breaking down and understanding this interaction chemically isn’t what Craig is talking about.  He is focused on what that means to and for us.

Maybe we choose fragrances based on this alchemic synergy?  We evolve our favourite perfumes, add the ‘missing link’, bring it to life.

I love this study as it shows the importance of application, something that I am passionate about – take the problem out of its applied situation and something is lost.  Evaluate how a perfume chemically changes on being worn and what do you get?  An understanding of the chemistry and how safe or otherwise that might be but we don’t buy perfumes because they are chemically amazing, we buy them because of how they make us feel.  A similar thing happens with cosmetics albeit to a lesser degree (we buy cosmetics because of how they make us look too)…..

Anyway, if that is the case how do we (as perfumers or fragrance utilisers) work with this to better identify the right-chemistried target market  for our fragranced creations?  It takes the idea of fragrance marketing to a whole new level!

How exciting!

Amanda x

PS: I first found out about this here at Cosmetics Design Europe.

Craig Roberts can be found here

and IFRA can be found here. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 20, 2013 3:12 am

    Maybe this explains why almost every perfume seems to disappear on me the moment I spray it on…

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