Whether for medicinal purposes or for sheer pleasure, people have mixed and experimented with
aromatic essences from flowers, herbs, and other plants since antiquity.
This blending of art and science takes many shapes and forms in modern day perfumery.
Twenty-first century perfumers range from creative hobbyists to highly trained professional perfumers
specializing in fragrance development for fine fragrance, personal care, air care, and household products (click on category for more info.)
In addition to being artistically inspired, today’s perfumers face greater complexity than in the past due,
in part, to the sheer increase in the number and type of raw materials, the array of end-use products,
and regulations that need to be considered.
Through training, dedication, and practice, bona fide perfumers develop in-depth knowledge of the
physical, chemical, and aesthetic proper uses of hundreds of olfactive raw materials. This knowledge
enables them to develop a multitude of fragrance compositions
Focused on creating the scents for everyday personal hygiene products, the personal care perfumer touches the life of nearly every consumer. By combining their chemical expertise with their in-depth knowledge of application bases, they can adapt or reformulate fragrance combinations to achieve the desired outcome. They must consider solubility, stability, and reactivity while ensuring that the original properties of the base media are maintained.
Second only to household perfumery in the difficulty of incorporating fragrance into the media, personal care perfumers create the fragrances for products including:
The nature of the media in this category requires chemical expertise. The most challenging of the perfumery categories, the household perfumer applies their extensive knowledge base and skillset to create the fragrances for the cleaning and household products found in homes and businesses everywhere.
They must account for human and environmental safety, reactivity with surfaces and other materials, product stability, packaging compatibility, and potential interactions with other ingredients. On top of that, the malodorous bases of household products are often strong and difficult to cover.
With trends in consumer demand requiring that they maintain creativity, the household perfumer develops the scents found in products such as:
Surface sanitizers and wipes
Whether creating fragrances elicit a certain ambiance or mood or to mask or neutralize mal-odors, the air care perfumer is behind the scents that make the air in homes, businesses, and vehicles fragrant and delightful. A master of fragrance chemistry who infuses a wealth of creativity into their work, they develop formulas for several unique media bases from candles to room sprays.
The air care perfumer is the creative mind behind:
Air fresheners and plug-in air fresheners
Before becoming perfumers, American Society of Perfumers members studied, apprenticed with a master perfumer, and worked in a fragrance laboratory for many years.
The training process to become an ASP perfumer is intense, rigorous, and lengthy. The first task for an apprentice perfumer is to study hundreds of natural and synthetic materials, committing them to memory.
Once the apprentice develops a strong olfactive memory, they develop their formulations skills by performing countless experiments. These experiments involve the study, observation, and mastery of the effects of ingredients both alone and in complex fragrance compositions.
As a result of this intense training, they can instantly identify hundreds of ingredients, fragrance structures, and types by smell alone. Hence, we sometimes refer to perfumers as a “nose.”
Their expertise provides ASP perfumers the ability to develop fragrances for a multitude of cosmetic and consumer products while also balancing cost, stability, strength, and regulatory parameters with agility.
Most ASP perfumers are adept at creating across all categories, but some choose to specialize in one or more of the following perfumery categories: personal care, air care, household, or fine fragrances [hyperlink to relevant pages]. While the materials utilized in these specialized practices are the same, their approach and techniques may vary considerably.
Though their artistic and scientific skills are essential, it is the ASP perfumer’s persistence, passion, and perseverance that make them an indispensable part of the fragrance industry today.
An expert at telling the story of human experience through scent, a fine fragrance perfumer creates the luxury fragrances one might find at their favorite department store fragrance counters.
With their expertise of the notes and combinations known as accords, they achieve scent combinations that inspire and intrigue. Artistic masters, fine fragrance perfumers have the talent to elicit emotion, evoke a precious memory, or tell a captivating tale with their fragrance creations.