The Advancement of Synthetic Aromatics for Allergy Sufferers

There is a common misconception that natural is better when it comes to fragrances – but in reality, many natural ingredients pose allergen risks. Some of the world’s largest perfume brands use synthetic ingredients to build complex and consistent scent profiles that last longer on the skin. The FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission currently regulate hundreds of synthetic fragrances for cosmetics, detergents, and air fresheners.
How are Synthetic Aromas Made?
Synthetic aromas are single compounds developed in laboratories. Scientists often analyze the molecular structure of natural scent molecules in essential oils to re-create the same fragrance in a controlled environment. Many synthetic fragrancing ingredients are nature-identical, giving perfumers access to floral, herbaceous, and other plant-based scents without damaging the environment.
What is a Fragrance Allergy?
About one-third of the US population reports sensitivities to fragrances, while 10% of the population experiences allergic reactions1. Fragrance sensitivity is a reaction to an ingredient that irritates your skin or sinuses and often includes symptoms such as sneezing, rashes, or headaches. A fragrance allergy is an immune response where your body recognizes an ingredient as a foreign substance, causing inflammation.
You may suffer an allergic reaction when an organic protein in an ingredient triggers an immune response. There are many natural allergens in perfume, including:

  • Citronella
  • Oakmoss
  • Balsam of Peru
  • Essential oils
  • Musk ambrette

Synthetic Fragrances Contain Fewer Allergens
A synthetic fragrance molecule is an isolated compound created in a controlled environment, unlike natural aromatics, which could contain hundreds of molecules. Natural fragrances often have an inconsistent chemical composition and are more challenging to regulate regarding allergy risks. Using synthetic ingredients in perfume gives manufacturers more control over individual compounds, allowing them to create 100% allergy-free fragrances with a consistent scent profile.
Innovations in Synthetic Fragrance Production
Coumarin (1868)
English chemist WH Perkin synthesized coumarin, a naturally-occurring molecule found in tonka beans, in 1868. Synthetic coumarin was the first lab-made ingredient used in perfumes and the scent behind the fougère fragrance family. Coumarin has a soft, powdery scent that invokes warm notes of tobacco, straw, and almonds.
Aldehydes (1921)
These synthetic molecules exploded onto the fine fragrance scene in 1921 with the synthesis of the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume. Perfumers classify aldehydes based on the number of carbon atoms they contain, ranging from C6 to C12, each offering a slightly different scent. Aldehydes give perfumes and cosmetics a somewhat metallic, greasy, warm smell.
Ambroxan (1950)
Ambroxan is found in ambergris, a natural secretion from sperm whales, and was first synthesized in a lab in 1950. Chemists modify sclareol, a plant compound found in clary sage, to create synthetic Ambroxan as a cruelty-free alternative to ambergris. It has a musky, woody scent that many perfumers use as a base note in oriental fragrances.
Ethyl Maltol (1963)
This famous caramel scent was popularized by Thierry Mugler’s “Angel” perfume line in 1992 and is an artificial derivative of maltol – a molecule found in cocoa and roasted malt. Ethyl Maltol adds sweet, gourmet scents to many feminine perfumes and invokes chocolate, pralines, and cooked fruit notes.
Iso E Super (1973)
Ernest Beaux first synthesized Iso E Super while working for French perfume giant Guerlain in 1973. This musky scent is versatile and popular in oriental fragrances for its long-lasting scent. It has smooth, amber, woody undertones that strengthen floral bouquets and is also non-irritating to sensitive skin.
Synthetic fragrances allow us to enjoy rich natural scents without damaging the environment or harming animals. They offer complex scent profiles with fewer allergy risks than many natural formulations. Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of high-quality synthetic aromatics for cosmetics, food, beverages, and personal care products. Please contact us for more information.