Nour Akoum

The real story behind natural perfumery

Natural vs synthetic. Is it really eco?

"Natural is always better" a sentence we often hear, but is it really? Well, in perfumery, it is not as simple, and there is a twist to what is commonly known and followed.

Chemistry came to add innovation, diversity and sustainability to fragrance raw materials. Using synthetic and chemically inspired alternatives is an environmentally responsible act supported by innovative and advanced techniques.


Rose essential oil -

For a perfumer's palette to be rich, unique, and creative, synthetic raw materials are a must! "Synthetics" does not indicate toxic and bad; on the contrary, it is how the material is made and how it impacts our environment. Chemicals are all around us, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the complexity that makes our beloved nature.

Accurately, natural essential oils are composed of several chemical molecules that can be extracted naturally or created in the laboratory following a chemical reaction. 

Rose, Nature, Flower, Garden, Summer, Spring

Some examples show how much our nature is scarce and how much is needed from the natural source to get to the essential oil. A simple safe, and environmentally friendly laboratory work can lead to a similar scent.

  • 10mL of Clove bud oil= 63g of Clove buds 
  • 10mL of Eucalyptus oil= 450g of Eucalyptus leaves
  • 10mL of Lavender oil= 1kg 350g of fine Lavender flowers 
  • 10mL of Ceylan Cinnamon bark oil= 2kg 250g of Cinnamon bark 
  • 10mL of Rosa damascena oil= 36kg of Rosa damascena petals 
  • 10mL of Melissa oil= 45kg of Melissa leaves

Being able to invent new smells with chemical compounds opened up a whole new world of opportunities and creativity for perfumers. Many flower's essential oils do not give a smell. Imagination and chemistry are needed to recreate the smell and character representing certain flowers (like Frangipani, Lilly of the valley, Heliotrope...). The same goes for fruits and gourmand (sweet) smelling scents; it is rare to get a scented essential oil, chemical formulations and continuous enhancements made this possible.

Our nature is indeed beautiful and fascinating, but being responsible and protecting it should be our goal. Having a balance in the composition is the answer. Natural touches in the perfume blend are magical and should stay, but the importance of using chemical replacements should never be ignored and mislabeled as "toxic".

We should always be aware of the things around us and try to understand the real impact of our actions. Synthetics in perfumery opened up a whole new sustainable approach with an opportunity for creativity, innovation and passion.