The synthetic ingredients

We talk about why synthetic ingredients are used in today´s perfumery.

April 09, 2020

Through time, perfumery faced various revolutions, the biggest happening during the Industrial Revolution when discovering odorant molecules we could synthesize in the laboratory. Why do we use synthetic ingredients in today’s perfumery? Do we use such things at The Alchemist Atelier?

Synthetic molecules in today’s perfumery have 3 main use :


Preserve nature

The most interesting example to explain this use is musk.

This mysterious animal ingredient originally comes from the Tonkin musk deer which had to be killed to extract a gland. Once macerated in alcohol, it developed this strong, warm, animalic scent used to fix fragrance. After being largely tracked for its glands, the musk deer became an endangered species. In parallel, during the late XIXth century, a scientist working on explosives found out about a un-explosive substance recalling the smell of the natural Tonkin musk. Since this discovery, the musks in perfumery became a large family of molecules with various olfactive profiles and the Tonkin musk was left aside to be protected. The Himalayan deer’s hunt is now forbidden.

Similar stories can be told for other kinds of rare ingredients like ambergris.

At The Alchemist Atelier, we use the synthetic musks of various profiles for extended and sustainable creativity.


To isolate molecules without destroying an ecosystem

Since the beginning of perfumery, fragrances aimed at glorifying nature. Preferably without harming it. That’s why in some cases, recreating smells in a lab is more interesting. At the Alchemist Atelier, the most famous case is Cut Grass Green. The green leaves cannot be obtained with today’s extraction techniques. Thanks again to scientists we now have an analysis technique that enables us to know exactly which molecules compose the scent and at which proportion. Therefore, we can easily recreate such a smell while keeping the grass in our gardens.


Recreate smells we cannot extract

Who doesn’t like a nice fruity scent in a Spring fragrance to bring liveliness to a flower?

This kind of smell is the perfect example to explain why the synthetics are interesting to recreate smells we cannot extract. Fruits cannot be distilled as citruses do, so to have fruity notes in fragrances we need to develop molecules 100% manmade. They are very interesting to broaden perfumers' creativity as they can see further than just flowers, leaves, grains, roots or tree bark.

In The Alchemist Atelier’s palette, we can think of the Yellow Fruits Accord that contains a peach note, or the Sensual Leather Accord where it recreates the smell of a soft Suede.

Of course, as nature is very gifted, we also use whenever we can the natural extract from the most precious varieties and locations we can find.