Levels of Fragrance

So, in an article on cost cutting the other month, Perry mentioned one of the biggest things one can do is cut the fragrance. I made a face wash the other day for friends and family with around .8% fragrance and, while one is washing, it's pretty fragrant. Maybe could have done .7 or even .6.

But, the product is close to the nose during use. So, my question is, for products which are specifically designed to scent the skin (excluding ethanol based fragrances) such as body wash, shower gel, body creams, etc... what is a typical fragrance usage rate? Surely not just .8, no? With my own tests, when one isn't using the product around the face, it's hard to smell the products in the shower -- let alone fill the bathroom like some commercial body washes do. I am an amateur perfumer and still learning how to design fragrances specific to end products (such as a body wash). But, assuming I have an appropriate fragrance, is 2% in a body wash too much?

I appreciate you're thoughts and comments!!!


  • BelassiBelassi Member
    edited December 2015
    Depends on the fragrance oil you use, really. Some are much stronger than others. I have a cherry fragrance here that you wouldn't want to use at more than 0.1% in a body wash, but generally I use 1% in body wash and shampoo.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Yes, as @Belassi says, it depends on the fragrance.

    To figure out the amount of fragrance to use you need to consider a number of factors including cost, compatibility and consumer perception. To me, the most important is consumer perception.

    You should pick the lowest level to use that still satisfies the consumer.  To figure out this level requires you to test it with consumers.

    I personally think that 2% fragrance in any formula (except fragrances) is probably too much. A number of ingredients in fragrances are allergenic to a significant number of people so it's best to minimize the amount that you use.
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    It depends on the fragrance and on the product type. Generally we use between 0.3% to 0.8% fragrance.

    For facial products and leave on products (creams and lotions) we use lower levels of fragrance.

    For wash off products like body wash we use higher levels.

  • Part of the problem is the perception on the part of the user vs. the perception of people around the user.  Your sense of the smell of any particular thing fatigues rapidly, so what you barely notice once you leave the bathroom can still be very noticeable to other people who get close to you.
  • I thank you all for your comments.
  • LEAVE ON 0.1-0.3%
    RINSE OFF0.4-1%
  • What about in bathing products? Bubble bath, for example?
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Really, it depends too much on the fragrance composition to be able to give useful guidelines. Ordinarily, the fragrance supplier will give a recommended use level. I usually make three samples, one with 50%, one at 75%, and one at 100% of the use level. Then, you get other people to use them, and judge based on their responses.

    For reducing fragrance levels, I use one of the standard tools, called a triangle test. Cut the fragrance level by 20% or so in one batch, prepare a control batch, then give people three samples to evaluate, changing which person gets 2 of which batch randomly (but keep track). If most people cannot pick out the lowered fragrance level, then you can reduce your fragrance without most customers knowing.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Seriously, one of our (now discontinued) bath products used fragrance at 0.4%, another fragrance was at 2.6%. It all depends on how strong the fragrance blend is.

    Also, we have a close relationship with our fragrance supplier, so I've been given access to the fragrance formulas we purchase. The simplest fragrance we use has 22 ingredients, the most complex has more than 60. This is why the FDA lets us use the term "fragrance" - the ingredient list would be incredibly long and confusing otherwise. 

    It's a huge mistake to think that "fragrance" on a label is just a few ingredients, or that one fragrance supplier has the same fragrance formula as another's, even if they smell the same.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • David08848David08848 Member
    edited January 2016
    I make an old style shaving cream with these ingredients:

    Ingredients:  Water, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, fragrance, Lavandula Officinalis (Lavender) Oil, Pelargonium  Graveolens (Geranium) Oil, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Triethanolamine, Tetrasodium  EDTA

    I tried the scent level at 1.5% and customers complained that they couldn't smell anything so I upped it to 3% and some are fine and some aren't as strong as I would like.

    What I am wondering is whether fragrance companies who sell to resellers online for the home crafting market dilute their fragrances from what they would be from the "professional" market?

    Or is there something about a "soap-based" product like this that causes the scent to somehow disappear when it is in a higher chain fatty acid soap made from Stearic Acid used in this kind of soap?

    Any help will be appreciated!  Thanks!
  • @david many fragrances (fragrance oils) sold for use in soap do come diluted. Also, it depends on when the fragrance is added. If one makes CP soap, it will require a fragrance which has many more base notes than those which can be used in hot process -- this is because the soap gets so hot, and it stays hot for a long time. Also, what you have mentioned is quite true -- soap has a high pH, even if it's pH is adjusted with citric acid after complete saponification (close to pKa) it is likely still well above eight. Many fragrance materials are not stable in such a pH and can degrade, react with others to form odorless materials, and, even worse in the eyes of many manufactures discolor. vanillin is the classic example -- it goes brown to black.
  • @bobzchemist Thank you for such an informative response! I am well aware that most perfumes are not "simple" in composition; sometimes, if they are made with speciality bases they can have hundreds. I have dabbled with making fragrances for a long time but now I am becoming serious about perfuming for functional products, like shower gels and the like. That is why i asked about general use levels. I like you're idea about the "triangle test" and will put it to you soon. Thank you all again; I really enjoy reading and participating on this forum.
  • As a very experienced CP soapmaker I have had years of experience dealing with scents and I did suspect that some of the fragrances available to me might be lighter than others used in industry.  The scent for my shaving cream is added after the cool-down phase and the shaving cream is homogenized at that time.  So I can see that maybe the pH has a contributing factor in this situation and will either increase the amount used or work with fragrance oil manufacturer to increase the scent level in the fragrance which is entirely doable!  Thanks for your input!
  • This issue has still been a problem for me and I have had to go back and re-scent almost all of my stock because the shaving customers complain that they can't smell any scent whatsoever!  Fragrance oils seem to be more of a problem than Essential oils and I do want to be careful with certain Essential oils so I have adjusted the amounts of fragrance in varying rates.  Still, I am at about 2x the rate Perry suggested back in 2015!  Is it just a combination of things mentioned above or is it something else?  I feel like I am banging my head against a wall!
  • johnbjohnb Member, Professional Chemist
    The biggest problem that amateur/hobbyist/artisan perfumers have is the lack of availability of a large number of (mainly) synthetic raw materials which are readily accessible to the professional perfumers employed by the established perfume houses.

    The materials have many and varied attributes which cannot be imitated by essential oils and can have hundreds, perhaps thousands of times more powerful odours. These odours may not be pleasant per se but, under the expertise of a professional perfumer they contribute many important aspect to modern perfumes. As a rather old example of this, dodecanal - the odour of which can be described as unpleasant or even very unpleasant when smelled alone is the characterising note used of Chanel No 5. The use of dodecanal dates back to 1923 and Chanel No 5 is still one of the most popular perfumes available. It doesn't take much imagination to appreciate the advances made in synthetic chemistry since then and the influence that has had on perfumery.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Wow - that brings back memories. My advanced organic chem professor gave me dodecanal as an analytical unknown - I had very unhappy lab partners while doing some of the testing.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • We have to see ourselves as one consumer.Best way to fragrance a product is conduct organoleptic intercept studies at a mall or product test/s with a product concept.We have done this on a global basis--net/net fragrance will make or break your product in the marketplace.I have seen numerous good functional products lose versus marketed baseline due to fragrance Halo effect.However when your product is accepted and and anchored via consumer identification you Roll.Lastly best to test neat out of the bottle and at use dilution i.e. for shampoo at 10 percent in warm water if possible.
  • Thanks again for all your replies.  This, at least, affirms what I have been thinking and hearing about the fragrances available to those of us who purchase either from resellers or those who market to the homecrafters and even some professional fragrance companies.  I understand all too well about the importance of testing out a fragrance and what happens if you don't!  Finding a fragrance company to work with isn't always easy and I am open to any suggestions that anyone might have!  Thanks again for your help!
  • @David08848 ; we are making similar products as yourself, mainly saponified liquids and bar soap. We use essential oils exclusively....I have bad reactions to many synthetic fragrances for some reason. Usually, our liquid soap products have around 1.5% EO, or a bit less, depending on the EOs. This works for us. If you are using 3% (that's high in my opinion) in your shaving product, perhaps the fragrances you are using have been adulterated?

    Finding a good EO supplier has been a challenge, and in 2009 finally found one. We insist on full CoA's including allergen levels. Many can't or won't provide this level of CoA's, and I think this requirement sorts out the serious suppliers.  Works for us.
    Dr. Mike Thair
    Cofounder & Chief Formulator
    Indochine Natural
  • chemncchemnc Member
    We find that there is a strong cultural component to fragrance levels. Products made for Asian countries tend to have levels that most people in the U.S. find overpowering. On the other hand, many people in the U.S. love to see the fragrance-free claim, but then they don't like the product because it doesn't smell good. We like EOs, carefully selected as to properties and quality, and at <1%.
  • nabilnabil Member
    edited May 2017
    hi all,

    do you need a solubilize agent  when you need to add high fragrance levels?
  • johnbjohnb Member, Professional Chemist
    do you need a solubilize agent  when you need to add high fragrance levels?

    Depends on the product.

    High surfactant content or high solvent level avoids the use of solubilizers.

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