From luxurious essences and evocative scents to iconic names and bottles, there’s no sector in the beauty industry as diverse as fragrance. But a new argument has pinned synthetic accords against natural notes, leaving the modern world of perfumery swirling with questions. “The war between naturals and synthetics is really heating up, and there are a lot of misconceptions,” says Virginia Bonofiglio, chairperson of Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing at Fashion Institute of Technology. So which is safer? We turned to our experts to weigh in.
Widen the palette for a perfumer to work from.
Have all been tested as safe.
Help to control the structure of a fragrance and boost aspects of naturals.
Can be less expensive than some naturals (particularly florals).
Are singular molecules so they are easier to control.
Some think of “chemicals” as being unsafe, although this has never been proven nor is it recognized as valid by the FDA.
Natural and Organic:
Since essential oils are often incorporated, they can give the added benefit of aromatherapy.
They are sometimes considered “bespoke” or exclusive since the extracts are harvested from unique sources.
Are reliant on the weather and the crops, so from year to year the ingredient could change in smell—or cost.
Additives are not used so they don’t last as long in the bottle (typical shelf life is less than six months).
The scents are stronger and may be more “earthy,” since the notes are interpretations of the direct extracts.
Pictured: Stella McCartney LILY ($80), Mémoire Liquide Aire ($95), Malie Organics Mango Nectar ($32)