Fragrance News This Week in Fragrance: A Sense of Smell for Robots, Japanese Aromas & Inside Dior

This Week in Fragrance: A Sense of Smell for Robots, Japanese Aromas & Inside Dior

02/22/17 08:40:23 (20 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

 

Miriam Cosic of TheAustralian.com reviews Kate Grenville's newest book, this time a non-fiction examination of The Case Against Fragrance:

She writes about many of the compounds that make perfumes carcinogenic, nauseating or simply sneeze-worthy: formaldehyde (which is formed when two other common ingredients are combined), acetaldehyde (which at least two American agencies consider “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’’), 1,4-dioxane (also considered a likely carcinogen, exposure to which may cause irritation to the respiratory tract, the central nervous system, the liver and the kidneys), and many more. At this point I put the book down to apply some cologne — not my signature Beige, but my pretty summer plaything, Jo Malone’s Wild Bluebell — in case I would no longer feel able to use it by the end of the book. READ MORE...

Check out Cosic's full review and check out Grenville discussing her book below. Have you read Grenville's book yet? Planning to read it? Tell us your thoughts in a comment below.

Natalie Corner of DailyMail.co.uk explains the creation process of Dior Parfums in light of the new documentary Inside Dior on the UK's Channel 4:

It's not just Christian Dior's dazzling couture gowns that are the result of thousands of hours of skilled craftsmanship and precise attention to detail. It turns out the process behind the historic fashion house's successful fragrances is equally laborious - and expensive. Previously shrouded in secrecy, a new documentary reveals the impressive lengths Dior goes to to perfect its perfumes - including the 1,400 man hours devoted to hand-picking seven million full jasmine blooms from its fields in Grasse, in the South of France. READ MORE...

Corner goes on to offer some interesting facts about Dior fragrances and highlights an interview with perfumer Francois Demachy. Are you a Dior fragrance fan? What's your favorite?

Dior Perfumes

Jessica Kozuka at RocketNews24.com announced this week the launch of a new Japanese fragrance brand, J-Scent. For example:

Roasted Green Tea, or hojicha, in Japanese, is a very popular beverage and is served both hot and cold. It has a warming, earthy scent, especially as the leaves are being roasted. According to the manufacturer, this perfume recalls that and “the feeling of having a chat with an intimate friend.” Wasanbon is an expensive fine-grained sugar produced in the south of Japan from sugarcane. It is primarily used in making wagashi, or traditional Japanese sweets. I can’t say that there is any particular smell associated with it, but the product description says it’s “a friendly scent with the image of delicate wagashi.” READ MORE...

Having lived in Japan for a number of years, I'm definitely curious about any scent that can purport to capture the aromas of my old home. What kinds of Japanese scents would you most like to wear/sniff?

J-Scent

ScienceDaily.com reported the results of a recent research project from Rockefeller University that examined the range of human olfaction:

To get the data they needed, they asked volunteers to sniff a carefully curated set of molecules, each contained in a little vial. The possibilities were nearly endless -- while the limits on human perception of light and sound are well known, no such boundaries have been established for odor. So in an effort to explore the full range of our sense of smell, Keller assembled a diverse cast of 476 molecules, many of which had never been tested in smell studies before. While not yet perfect, the smell prediction model opens new possibilities for perfume chemists looking for more efficient ways to formulate, say, the perfect scent of dusky rose. It also shines new light on the immensely complex biology of smell perception. No one fully understands what happens when odor molecules waft into the nose and are converted into electrical signals that travel to the brain. READ MORE...

I'm always excited about research in aroma and olfaction, and I would have loved to have been part of that study! What other kinds of studies do you think would benefit the fragrance world?

Woman smelling a flower

But wait! There's more to this study: JP Buntinx at TheMerkle.com revealed that the data from the Rockefeller study could help scientists to develop a sense of smell for artificial intelligence:

It is evident that artificial intelligence is evolving at an accelerated pace as of late. Scientists have created a new set of algorithms that would allow AIs to determine the odor of particular molecules based on their chemical structure. In the future, this technology can aid food producers and fragrance makers to create new odors with that “perfect scent”.... Based on over 1 million data points, scientists went to work to create a new AI algorithm. Based on these findings, it is now possible for artificial intelligent beings to differentiate between different smells. To be more precise, AI-based solutions can define scents based on the chemical structure of individual molecules. READ MORE...

Can I just say, fascinating!?!?!

Artificial Intelligence

And finally, one last article that I greatly enjoyed and is likely a poignant read for any fragrance lover. Marlene Smith at Reader's Digest discussed an aroma that she strongly associates with "home":

I think it all started when I was staying at my mom’s house in North Carolina. A tiny white lilac shrub bloomed along the grassy space separating Mom’s driveway from her neighbor’s. I remember seeing that shrub and realizing just how long it had been since I last saw one. I walked over to it and breathed deeply. A hidden longing came over me. As a youngster growing up in New York, I knew two lilacs. One grew right outside our house; it was a mixture of purple and white branches. I’m told Dad had planted one of each, and they had grown intertwined over the years. The other was more maroon-colored, growing next to an old house that was falling down beside the barn where we milked cows. Isn’t it funny how we can latch onto something, and then it takes on a new importance in our minds? That’s what happened with the lilacs and me. That little shrub at Mom’s made me long for my own lilacs. READ MORE...

This of course made me consider what the scent of home is for me. And you know what? It wasn't easy. I can't think of any specific food, flower, cleaning product, etc that I equate with "home". Of course, as a modern day nomad I  have many homes and no home at the same time. Strange? How about you? What aromas do you equate with "home"?

lilacs

 

Image of the author

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to BeautyAlmanac.com and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting:  www.MarlenHarrison.com.

 



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Passionez
Passionez

Thanks for these interesting articles!
I would like to react to each one but first I thought of the lilac scent and the concept of "scents which smell like home" Marlene Smith wrote about.

Together with roses, lilac participate in my childhood memories. I love smelling blooming lilac flowers wherever they are. It smells of sunshine and happiness to me. But there isn't really a scent I would associate with "home" for me. Maybe, because like you, I lived in different places in different countries.

I remember that the smell of burnt rubber in the metro reminded me of the christmasses spent in Paris with my grandparents. Or the sound of the ambulances which is very typical here.

The smell of forest, pine trees, wet soaked leaves also reminds me of home as a child, because we had a forest nearby. But now? How does smell home to me? A bit dusty and dry perhaps...;-)

Mar
01
2017
sophiesnose
sophiesnose

I have a coworker and friend who is scent sensitive, but she isn't a tyrant about it. If I wear something that bothers her she tells me and we avoid each other for that day. Then I mark my bottle with a small drop of nail polish so I don't wear it around her.

Not every scent should be banned. I do agree that there are some compounds that are problematic, but banning them all is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If I have to smell smokers and people with BO then I am going to need some perfume to get through my day! I often wear a perfumed scarf and I can't tell you how often I put it over my nose to keep from wretching when I have to be around foul smelling people or things.

If the compounds are truly as problematic and dangerous to our health as some are claiming then science will prove it and they can label perfume like they now do with cigarettes here in Canada, and I can make an informed decision. It is highly unlikely that every single scent molecule is problematic. No need for sweeping bans. That's just ridiculous!

Feb
28
2017
lemonzest
lemonzest

I wonder how the book itself smells (The Case Against Fragrance). Fresh books have a wonderful scent, especially those printed in color. Ink is probably an allergen though.

Wonder if it's printed with non-GMO gluten-free soy-based organic all natural ink on 100% double-recycled paper from sustainable forests.

Old tv's with cathode ray tubes had a great plastic ozone smell, almost as good as ink. Mesquite fires smell awesome. Mowing probably releases tons of toxins if we're talking about mowing fertilized grass. Point is that air is full of molecules that could hurt us. May as well enjoy scent while we can.

Feb
24
2017
FeltFace
FeltFace

I despise this nanny culture that uses "public safety" as a pretext to ruin masterpieces. At the same time as the pharma industry, no less, is not only producing but imposing the use of their products, many of which cause more harm than good. Until there is consistency I'm not having any of the nanny culture either.

On the subject of the dangers of the sun - as with anything else, excess can be dangerous. BUT without the sun there is no life. It has even been established that certain cancers even increase without moderate UV exposure. But the emphasis on the sun's lethal qualities does help sell a lot of sunscreen. The beauty of that is in the irony that many chemical sunscreens are carcinogenic.
I'm inclined to take my chances with the sun and use vitamin C in my skin care, something even used by specialists as a remedy against skin cancer.

As for Dior: Hypnotic Poison Elixir, Midnight Poison, Dolce Vita, Addict (original EDP), Addict 2

Feb
24
2017
vrosej10
vrosej10

I'm the unhappy owner of violent sensitives to vinegar and citric acid amongst other things. I develop severe rashes, full body itching and breathing difficulties if my skin contacts them. It makes negotiating public food courts etc a nightmare. I have to wear gloves now to touch supermarket trolleys because I react to what they sanitize them with. If I was Ms Grenville and took her approach, I would be demanding the public cease drinking Coca Cola or eating salad dressing in public. I realise the world doesn't revolve around me and because I'm an adult, adapt my behaviour. everyone shouldn't have to accommodate my needs.

Feb
23
2017
ranchorita
ranchorita

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" to what SuzanneS said in her comments on "The Case Against Fragrance."

Several of my favorite perfumes are quite powerful, indeed, and I practice great restraint by applying them modestly. I am a naturally considerate person, and while I enjoy hearing compliments on my fragrance, I wear perfume entirely for my own pleasure. I plan to continue to wear and enjoy fragrance for as long as I remain sane and independent in this lifetime.

I suspect nearly everyone smells a perfume or cologne they find unpleasant, occasionally, but I try not to judge, and I appreciate that we all bring a unique frame of reference that informs our likes and dislikes. That being said, there's been a rash of people in our society who claim they are allergic to things they simply don't like. There was a bit in a popular TV show where a character told a waiter not to put an ingredient in her food because she was allergic to it. When the waiter left, another character said "I didn't know you had an allergy!" The character replied "I don't, but I really hate basil, so if I tell them I'm allergic, they won't put it in my food." I think there's a growing sense that people can complain about things they don't like and that all others in the social setting must comply immediately to their own personal preferences. This is a tyrannical attitude.

I admit that I dislike the smell of heavy smokers, or people who drink excessively, or of people who don't (or can't) practice thorough personal hygiene, but I would rather keep my mouth shut than to offend someone who is doing me no harm. I expect the same courtesy from others. If someone is so fragile that to be around fragrance can trigger debilitating or fatal episodes, then they need to stick to a smaller sphere of highly controlled environments, rather than expect society at large to cater to their allergies, whether real or imagined.

As to the issue of ingredient combinations that can be carcinogenic or debilitating to the health in other ways, well, we all have to die of something. Perfume is part of how I celebrate my life, and it is a constant reminder to me that there can be beauty in every single day, if we but choose to see it. It is useful and helpful to know that certain things may combine to form deadly toxins, but as someone else mentioned, I'd expect to read a considerable amount of peer-reviewed publications from the scientific community to confirm those data. If, as some people assert, perfume is so dangerous on a large scale, there would be a very short shelf-life for clerks who work at perfume counters and in fragrance boutiques, let alone the professionals who work in the places where these fragrances are produced. As far as I know, people don't drop dead from working in perfume shops. Thank goodness!

My bottom line is that if we try to be respectful and considerate of others, then we are due the respect and consideration of people who may not agree with our taste or our choices. Live and let live. People with health issues are within their rights to tailor their own immediate environment and social habits to accommodate their personal needs, and I will do the same. I would read the book if it were available in my library, but I would not spend money to support a crusade that I believe stands counter to my own liberty and beliefs. Chacun à son goût.

Feb
23
2017
sz.galambos
sz.galambos

Do anyone plan to ban fragrances? Ban smelly people with disgusting odor aswell and dont spare the stink produced by vehicles, restaurants, agriculture and such. And above all, start with banning stupidity.

Feb
23
2017
OlfactoryLover
OlfactoryLover

So fragrance is bad for you? Well I imagine some probably are in some form or another as with most man made products but it's nice to cover up the smell of air pollution ;) I once remembered reading an article stating that WATER can cause cancer! Apparently nothing is safe. Might as well smell fabulous.

Feb
23
2017
Kinosan
Kinosan

Very interesting to see that J-Scent is launching something that is very related to the Japanese culture. I am particularly interested in seeing their interpretation of Oud, will it be heavy like the middle-eastern? or a light and airy wood? Will definitely get a bottle when I travel to Tokyo in a few months time.

Scent that reminds me of home?
DOVE Beauty Soap

Feb
22
2017
Islandaromatika
Islandaromatika

Poor Kate Grenville! She looks as if she could use a huge dose of parfum to wipe that sneer off her unscented face....

Feb
22
2017
Calvini
Calvini

I highly respect Dior and greatly admire Francois Demachy. This brand consistently puts out surprisingly quality commercial fragrances (similar to the old YSL) while holding an exceptional private collection!
My favorites are Vetiver, Cuir Cannage, Mitzah, Leather Oud, Eau Sauvage Parfum, and Dior Homme; with many honorable mentions such as Oud Ispahan, Bois d'Argent, Eau Noire, Dior Homme Intense, and Diorissimo :)

*Please note the documentary is an obvious advertising tool, and the claim about their precious ingredients is meant to mislead. It's really cool that they have their own jasmine & rose field, and sure the absolutes could cost more than gold, but how much is in your bottle? Anyone with a decent nose and common business sense would know their commercial fragrances don't contain much of the real stuff, and it wouldn't be cost-effective anyway. This is the exact same strategy many brands claims about their oud.

My favorite Japanese scents would have to be jin-koh/aloeswood (or even kyara) incense and any kind of cha/tea, which J-Scent offers both (but ONLY in Japan)! On top of that, a couple of scenery/fantasy scents like sakura (cherry), ume (plum), & fall maple forest.

Feb
22
2017
raw umber
raw umber

Calvini, i understand what you're saying in drawing that comparison, but perfume is optional, the Sun is not. Perfume has not been proven to be harmful. The Sun has.

Since perfume is optional, people can argue that others shouldn't use it whereas the Sun can not be avoided, and beyond putting on sunscreen, there isn't much that can be done about exposure to some of its harmful effects .

However, there is no controversy about whether or not it is harmful. Everyone who has ever had a sunburn or knows someone who has had skin cancer accepts that the Sun is universally damaging, not only to those few who have allergies to it.

With perfume the question is, "some people are allergic to it, but is it universally harmful, or not?"

I don't think anyone has been able to show conclusively that perfume causes harm in the quantities to which we are exposed. Triggering an allergic reaction or a sensitivity is NOT equivalent to something being poison and definitively harmful to everyone.

Feb
22
2017
Calvini
Calvini

There's a kid on YouTube (BBC Documentary?) who's allergic to sun... Let's put it out ;)
Don't these activists know there are "unscented" option for almost everything now?

Feb
22
2017
raw umber
raw umber

This "perfumes are poison" thing is a very loaded subject. I personally rely on perfumes to treat acute anxiety and going around worrying that some of them are giving me cancer serves to increase my anxiety, not reduce it. Why not just use essential oils then, you say? Because I don't want to fear something I love because of unreliable, incomplete information.

Anyone who writes about this subject should do so responsibly and always provide links or footnotes for whatever studies or academic journals are being referenced, so that we can see the specifics of the evidence with our own eyes, and decide for ourselves whether the data provided is conclusive.

Often, writers will be intentionally vague, or skew the evidence so that it supports their beliefs, which is not useful to anyone except masochists who enjoy the sensation of knowingly doing something self-destructive.

If you want to say perfume is poison, show some accountability and be tirelessly thorough, otherwise you're just spreading fear and ain't nobody got time for that. Fear (intense stress) has been linked to serious illness, didn't ya know? ; p

Feb
22
2017
Playtime
Playtime

The research from Rockefeller University is very interesting. That would be opening so many doors on the knowledge of our sense of olfactory perception if this would develop into a foundational theory.
Also the way we can communicate about scents would change drastically.

Feb
22
2017
PerfumeEmpress
PerfumeEmpress

SuzanneS, I could not agree more with you. I'm sorry for Whatshername, but she cannot expect to obliterate an entire industry to accommodate her tender sensitivities.

With age my sister also developed a sort of allergy to fragrance. Does she go about trying to "make the case against fragrance"? No. She just tries to keep away from perfume and, yes, she asks me not to wear scent in her house, and of course, I oblige.

Enough with the hothouse flowers, who are "allergic" to everything so life must be practically put on hold to accommodate them.

And what about the rest of us, who love perfume? What about our right to continue to enjoy scents? Why the devil should the world give up on a form of pleasure that has existed since the dawn of time because Ms. Terminal Sensitivity from Down Under is bothered by it?

LouPoetka is right. If you have to go - and we all will, in the end - death by perfume HAS to be the best way to do it.

There is no such thing as a perfect world. It can only be achieved by depriving half of the inhabitants of their rights to accommodate the other half. Surely, you all see the irony and the contradiction in that.

I'll take an imperfect but free world anytime.

Feb
22
2017
SuzanneS
SuzanneS

Ive been wondering when this kind of report would be on Fragrantica. (The case against fragrance)

I have done the research. Ive read a bit about this book. I know to some extent what this woman is claiming. I do believe there can be endocrine disruptions. Looming larger is all these new aromachemicals that keep getting churned out every year with little or no regulation, yet they continue to beat the IFRA drum that the older more traditional aromachemicals and essential oils are even worse. This seems very hypocritical to me. We want to protect people from older ingredients yet release new ones that we have no knowledge of their long term effects. Ive had more allergic reactions to the NEW stuff out on the market, and have yet to see a fragrance of the new chemical soup order stand up to anything of the old classics. I do find it interesting that in old times true animalic essences were used to balance out hormones.

Im tired of people voicing their opinions and then trying to make it into some kind of social justice. Dont like it? Dont buy it. Dont be around it. Dont force anyone else though to your opinion. 1/3 according to this womans statistics have issue with fragrance. What about the 2/3 that do not have a problem with it? (thats assuming this womans figures are indeed accurate)

If we want to die by perfume..by god bathe in it. If someone wants to do anything thats harmful to their health after reading potential dangers--god bless them and I hope their life is happy. Im so over this social engineering adjenda. Nevermind we have nuclear waste pouring into the pacific ocean, or fluoride in our water and toothpaste, or round up to kill the weeds..no its the perfume! This causes so much unnecessary stress and misery.

Favorite Dior?
Poison- that old abrams tank.

What smells of home to me?
Vintage Opium.

Love,
Your vintage-loving perfume curmudgeon-SuzanneS

Feb
22
2017
Bella
Bella

Thanks smellagent, the link to read more is fixed now!

Feb
22
2017
LouPoetka
LouPoetka

When you stop and think about it, "She/He died of perfume" actually makes a very good epitaph.

Feb
22
2017
smellagent
smellagent

Interesting,very interesting and I just don't want to hear that fragrance is bad for me. I mean it really is my only vice at the moment. Btw I tried to read more and the page is blank when you click read more. I would love to check out those J-Scents and I am thinking of taking a trip to Japan so maybe I will. Home for me is walking around Audubon park when the Camellias are blooming and all you can smell is the Sweet Olive in bloom.

Feb
22
2017

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