Perfumers are a rare breed. These semi-artistic, semi-scientific hybrids go through rigorous training, memorizing the scents of hundreds of ingredients and spending decades refining their craft – which may explain why there are more astronauts than perfumers worldwide, according to the BBC.
] For many, it's not just about selling bottles of fragrant stuff to consumers. The goal is to convey emotions, to create a nice moment or to move a childhood memory. To find out what it takes to create world-class fragrances, Mental Floss talked to three perfumers who broke into the industry in very different ways.
. 1 Perfumers can spot hundreds of ingredients by smell alone.
Master perfumers are sometimes referred to as nez ̵
The Trick She says every smell should be associated with a certain memory. "The more experiences you gain in your life, the more memories you create. So remember these raw materials when you start studying. They are reminiscent of your grandmother, a florist, a bakery or a certain chewing gum. "Wilson tells Mental Floss. (The link between smell and memory has indeed been proven by science.) A study by neurobiologists at the University of Toronto in 2018 found that the brain stores not only information about certain fragrances, but also memories of when and where they first started  2. A good sense of smell is not enough to become a good perfumer.
Many perfumers have an increased sense of smell. Jersey City-based perfumer Christopher Brosius, who founded the rebellious fragrance brand CB I Hate Perfume (an indication of his aversion to most commercial fragrances) is one of them. He noticed how strong his nose was when he briefly worked as a taxi driver in New York City – he had to roll the window every time an "offensive" perfume wafted in his direction and moved in his stomach.
Many, however, aspired perfumers mistakenly believe that a "good nose" will take them far. "It's like saying that 20/20 images are the next Picasso," says Brosius Mental Floss. "A sharp nose is very useful, but at the end of the day I met perfumers who were extremely talented and did not smell anything more than others. They only had the ability to think differently about what they did with fragrance and to combine it in a unique and interesting way. "More important than a good sense of smell is creativity, a natural talent to recognize well-functioning fragrances. and the "commitment to building a very special base of knowledge and skill," says Brosius.
. 3 France's Givaudan perfumery school is the destination of many top perfumers.
Like many professional perfumers, Wilson was trained at the Givaudan Perfumery School in France. The company was founded in 1946 and each year receives only one or two promising students from thousands of applicants – and sometimes none at all – if the applicants from this year do not meet the high standards of the school. Former director Jean Guichard said he chose the students based on their personality, talents and motivation. "The perfumer should be a mix of a scientist and a poet," Guichard told the BBC. "When I meet people, I know if they have talent or not. I do not want to have people saying "I'm a perfumer because they make a lot of money." I'm not interested in that at all. (And when it comes to pay, Wilson says start-up salary.) It's about $ 45,000 for entry-level perfumers, but in New York City perfumers are starting to rise a bit higher, and it's not unsurpassed that the world's leading perfumers are six-figure .)
The four-year Givaudan program is rigorous: first, students need to remember about 1500 raw materials, Wilson says, and then learn how to build chords, which are the fragrance notes (like rose or jasmine) that make up the They move to perfume schemes (the "skeleton" of a fine fragrance containing 10 to 12 materials) and become acquainted with the culture and history of the perfume. "It takes a long time for you to experience all that What you do all day from 9am to 4pm It's intense. "Wilson says when and when they graduate, they'll wait for them at the Givaudan perfume company, where they'll list them under Anl the perfection of an experienced professional.
. 4 The perfume school is not the only way to penetrate the industry.
Brosius says "99.9 percent" of aspiring perfumers would benefit from attending a perfume school. He personally did something different and learned the basics of perfume making by doing a job at Kiehl & # 39; s and completing the company's in-house training program.
It is even less common for a perfumer to be self-taught, but it is not impossible. The latter includes Mandy Aftel, a perfumer in Berkeley, California, who had a rich career in psychotherapy to pursue a burgeoning passion for perfumery. To get information about natural materials, she turned to fragrance books from the early 1900s before synthetic materials began to saturate the market. Her Aftelier perfume business now uses hundreds of natural ingredients – not plastics – to create unique fragrances, and she has a loyal clientele. Regardless of the career path they took, all perfumers agreed that this career is "a continuous learning process," Aftel told Mental Floss. Both Brosius and Wilson said that it took them 20 to 25 years to really master the art of perfumery, and Aftel, after 30 years in the field, still calls himself a "beginner".
. 5 Not all perfumers work with fine scents.
Perfumes are used in many different ways, some of which we encounter daily without realizing it. Some perfumers specialize in creating scents for "industrial use," ranging from children's toys to paint and fabric, says Brosius. For toilet bowls, cat litter and asphalt, it is not necessarily the goal to create a pleasant aroma; Instead, the challenge is to mask an awkward mask. However, many of the perfumers who work in the industrial sector have a scientific background and tend to work for a chemical company rather than a perfume label, says Wilson.
. 6 Some of the materials that perfumers work with are dangerous.
Some undiluted ingredients – such as cinnamon – can cause severe burns if they get on the skin. Brosius wears gloves and goggles when mixing materials, saying that some of the ingredients in his studio have a label that should not be opened. He says, "We have a record here that when something new comes up, it opens in certain parts of the building or even sometimes on the patio, so we do not have an accident that is like this:" Oops, I have just one drop of aldehyde poured [an organic compound] and now the entire building is uninhabitable, though it will smell like ginger ale next week! "
. 7 You want you to know that your aromatherapy lotion does not consist of rose, jasmine or what the bottle claims.
Labels can be deceptive. If you buy an "aromatherapy" lotion or a shower gel that supposedly contains rose, sandalwood or jasmine, but costs $ 15, this is a red flag. According to Wilson, these ingredients can cost many thousands of dollars a pound. Wilson says it's much more likely that cheaper products will only contain one or two drops of the advertised natural oils to mark on the label, as well as a variety of synthetic ingredients that mimic the odor.
. 8 They do not always work on fragrances that they like.
Marketing accounts for a large part of the cost of the perfume, especially in the upper range. The perfume industry spent around $ 800 million on marketing in 2016, according to Bloomberg. "In ninety percent of the cases, the cost of the juice in this bottle is low," says Brosius.
The marketing requirements are also one reason why perfumers do not always follow their nose and their creativity. "Most perfumers who work in big houses are not always happy with their work," says Brosius. "For every fine fragrance they work on, they are also forced to work on a lot of manure scents. Much of it depends on the whim of the marketing company. "
Businesses are also more risk-averse, says Wilson, and the perfumes themselves are not designed to last. "It used to mean that a" classic "lasted 20 years, so your Chanel 5 and things like that," says Wilson. "Well, it's very rare to have a perfume that stays close to even 10 years."
. 9 The smell of puppies is impossible to reproduce – but perfumers try.
Brosius has taken on some ambitious projects over the years, including fragrances that mimic the scents of snow and wet earth, but some smells are harder to grasp than others. This is because the flavors needed to replicate certain odors have not yet been created. This can be said of gasoline, champagne and certain wines as well as some animal odors. "Especially in puppies and kittens, the molecules required to accurately reproduce these odors are not included in the perfumer's range. Puppies and kittens can not be solvent-extracted for their smell, "says Brosius, describing a method of applying a chemical solvent to a raw material, such as a flower, to extract its aroma.
However, it did succeed." which is so strong that people are convinced that they smell something that is not there, "he says.For example, his roast beef fragrance does not contain roast beef or anything similar, but it does contain notes of parsley and black pepper, especially this one Fragrance, and some others may not be worn on the body, says Brosius, some of his fragrances are more like "smelling salts" of today, where the goal is to invigorate you by reducing stress: "Everything you do it's time to open the bottle, breathe in, and your system will automatically come to rest, "he says.
10 The perfumers sometimes work with whales.
Perfumeh Producers work with unusual ingredients, and Ambergris is certainly at the top of the list. This stony material comes from the excrements of sperm whales and is occasionally washed ashore. Aftel is fortunate enough to have exhibited some at the Museum of the olfactory history called Aftel Archive of Curious Scents. In order to convert the solid mass of squashed squid and squid pickles into an aromatic oil, she had to mash it with a mortar and pestle, then add alcohol, heat and age. So how does it smell in liquid form? "Heavens," says Aftel. "It's just ambery and shimmering. It is a miracle of transformation. "In addition, Herman Melville mentioned it in Moby Dick and it was once an ice cream flavor from the 17th century. They keep wool nearby to combat the tiredness of the nose.
Wool is the olfactory equivalent to eating sherbet between courses. If you smell the same scent for a long time or sniff too many perfumes in succession, your scent receptors will get used to sending these signals to your brain. This is officially called olfactory fatigue and explains why after a few minutes you might stop noticing a smell.
Aftel says. She holds some wool nearby to reset her sense of smell, and three big pipes do the trick. Why does it work? Aftel says that one theory is that lanolin in wool absorbs and neutralizes odors, saving the brain from sensory overload. As for the coffee beans that you might find in some perfumeries? These "definitely do not work," says Aftel.