Striving for scents with staying power
Someone once said that perfume is ‘music for the nose’. Today we want that music to keep on playing: in our daily products we crave hedonic reassurance at every touch point. Achieving this requires surprising feats of technical excellence. Here’s how Givaudan manages to make fragrances perform so the scent always takes centre stage.
Fragrance. The very word conjures up an image of something fragile, a refined blend of ingredients, mixed to create a perfect sensory moment. Some fragrance, however, is not destined for a pampered bottled existence, but will become one of the industry’s workhorses. Scents in home or personal care and laundry products have a very important role to play under very challenging conditions. This has led to the development of perfume delivery systems that protect and carry perfume to the point at which it is required, a technique known as encapsulation.
Givaudan is a leader in this domain, which is a method of delivering fragrances to be diffused in harsh environments, such as the watery world of the washing machine. In this kind of environment, a fragrance would be so diluted as to disappear. And how do you keep perfume performing all day long in a deodorant? Our proprietary technologies hold droplets of fragrance perfectly in place, sometimes delaying, sometimes preventing diffusion. It is fragrance engineering at its best.
Capsules protect fragrance oils
We have designed ‘capsules’ that protect delicate fragrance oils in a product base, be it a detergent or deodorant, re-balancing the scent experience for the user and helping to make sure that it is carried across all stages of product use. For example, in a laundry product, the fragrance can be smelled in the liquid, can survive the wash cycle and be deposited onto textile fibres. The scent will be perceptible at every stage; in the wash cycle some capsules dissolve, slowing fragrance release, some will stay intact but break as the wet laundry is removed from the machine, releasing bursts of scent, whilst others will remain intact on the clothes as they dry, awaiting the friction of wear to diffuse an aura of fresh, clean reassurance.
Perfume performance from fragrance encapsulation:
For perfumers, fragrance encapsulation has opened up exciting creative opportunities, as Givaudan lead perfumer Nicolas Anorga explains: “We have shifted the paradigm of what happens at the ‘dry fabric’ stage. We’re able to work with more delicate scents and extend the types of fragrance that can be used in laundry products. The reason why woody, musky or lavender notes are traditionally associated with laundry is because previously these materials were more suited to this product category. On a molecular level they have characteristics that make them long lasting and likely to stick to cloth fibres so stay in place to still be noticeable on dry linens.”
Now, thanks to encapsulation technologies, we can offer lighter, citrusy, fruity or floral notes. These are far more delicate, and it has drastically changed the variety of fragrance in laundry products – it’s rather like changing the laws of gravity!”
Advances lead to scent sophistication
Nicolas also welcomes the advantages of these fragrance delivery systems in creating more sophisticated scents: “Perfumery is all about contrast. If you have a woody note, you need to add a touch of green, otherwise you’ll just get used to the woodiness. It’s the addition of the complementary note that keeps the fragrance lively. Through encapsulation we can achieve this kind of olfactory complexity in the way we combine the ‘free’ fragrance oils with the encapsulate base.”
It is interesting to note that the desire for long-lastingness does not extend to the whole consumer products category. Some of our daily favourites don’t need fragrance with such staying power. Powerful perfume is not always a key consumer need. The preference in shampoos, for example, is for ‘cleanliness’ or ‘caring‘, not intense fragrance, as scented dry hair is not required in western markets, though in Asia there is a different view.
Technology is often seen as in conflict with a sustainable lifestyle – but fragrance encapsulation is bringing distinct environmental impacts for our business. By using these new techniques we are inventing new rules for perfumery, using less product, more powerfully. Good news for the environment – this technology is perfectly in step with modern requirements.