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The truth behind synthetic ingredients with Robertet

01.15.2022
The truth behind synthetic ingredients with Robertet
For us, fragrance isn't just something you spray. It’s a source of confidence, a comforting nostalgia, a bottled memory, an extension of oneself, a life’s work. Behind the scenes, there’s a long chain of people involved in the creation of your fragrance.
 
We want you to meet them.
 
In this series, we’re collaborating with experts in the fragrance industry. You’ll hear from the Makers of your favorite Commodity fragrances, tastemakers from our partner perfume houses and representatives from well-known retailers. They’ll share advice and expertise to simplify your fragrance experience, or shed light on their topics of specialty.
 
This is a space for you to get more out of your fragrance journey, to become well versed in the world of fragrance.
 
This is a unique platform for discovery.
 
This is Featured Perspectives.

Zoe Freedberg is a veteran of the industry - from fragrance to fashion, she knows the industry like no other. She is currently director of fragrance marketing for the Robertet Group, the world leader in natural aromatic raw materials. Robertet produces products using only botanical ingredients and processes them into natural extracts for flavors to create perfumes, organic and natural cosmetics, and health-promoting supplements.
In the following interview, Zoe takes us inside her flavor-filled everyday life and gets to the bottom of whether natural ingredients are actually always the better choice.

As an industry veteran, do you have any advice for someone new to fragrance?

It's important to "follow your scent," as we like to call it. That is, you should always evaluate a fragrance over time to see how it changes and evolves. The initial scent or your first impression can completely change after just a few hours - or even minutes - of wearing it.

How should you go about finding out your personal scent preferences?

Fragrance preference is completely subjective! Ultimately, it should come down to how it feels. If it evokes an immediate reaction - a positive one, of course - that's a good sign.
However, if you need more guidance, food and flavor preferences can be a good help. For example, if you're drawn to spices, have a preference for sweets, or like tangy, bright cocktails, chances are that translates to scents as well.

If a fragrance smells good on me, does that mean it will smell just as good on others?

Every person wears a fragrance differently. What foods you eat, how much stress you're under, what other body products you use - all of these things can cause the scent to vary slightly depending on the wearer.

"Skin scents," or skin-like fragrances, are very popular in the industry right now. Can you describe these in more detail?

We love skin scents! Skin scents can refer to a variety of things: They can be a scent that you only notice when you're close enough to the wearer, or a scent that resembles or enhances the skin's natural scent and creates a nice soft, clean skin effect. An excellent example of a skin scent is Commodity's Paper fragrance.

Can you explain the differences between synthetic, natural and naturally derived ingredients?

Ultimately, it comes down to the source and the extraction process.
Natural ingredients come directly from nature and are minimally processed. They are usually extracted through "steam distillation," which creates the essential oils commonly used in perfumery.
Synthetic ingredients, on the other hand, are produced in a laboratory.
With naturally derived ingredients, things get more difficult. Ultimately, these are ingredients that have been taken from nature and then altered or extracted to artificially recreate an ingredient.

There is a stigma that natural ingredients are always better when it comes to fragrances. Is that true?

Not necessarily! Natural ingredients can certainly offer more complexity and nuance, and Robertet perfumers like to use them when they have the opportunity, but they also present challenges when it comes to cost and crop variability. The smaller palette can also be a limitation for perfumers.

Why do you think synthetic ingredients have a bad reputation?

For me, it's based mostly on prejudice. I think it started when society equated "synthetic" with "chemical," which mistakenly had a reputation for being bad or harmful. Synthetic products eventually got caught up in this anti-chemical movement, which we know is incorrect.
On the contrary, all Robertet formulas, including those with synthetics, are IFRA compliant and are extensively tested for safety.
*The IFRA (International Fragrance Association) is a global organization that promotes the safe use and enjoyment of fragrances by setting ingredient safety standards that fragrance manufacturers worldwide must adhere to.

What are the perfume industry's latest innovations in sustainability?

There are so many exciting innovations in this area! For example, Robertet is committed to improving traceability and transparency in sourcing sustainable ingredients and continuing to expand our portfolio of upcycled ingredients.
We're also seeing brands turn to ingredients sourced from regenerative agriculture or wild harvesting, and of course packaging is evolving in really innovative ways.

Can you elaborate on the term "upcycled ingredients"?

Upcycling is the process of transforming byproducts or unwanted products into new materials or products that ultimately produce no waste. It's something that Robertet is always using in its fragrance creations and incorporating into its portfolio.

How will Robertet continue to source responsible ingredients in the future?

Robertet was founded in 1850 and is a pioneer in sustainable sourcing for the perfume industry. We take a holistic approach to sourcing because we know that adhering to social and environmental values is not an option, but a necessary component to our sustainable success.
Looking to the future, we are constantly striving to preserve the richness of the land and maintain the traditional farming methods that are typical of the local economy, and to continue to promote and improve local life.


Do you have a topic you'd like to hear more about? We probably have the perfect person for that. Tell us in the comments what Featured Perspective you'd like to hear next!

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