How To Create A Perfume Accord

Welcome to part three of the three-part series on creating accords in perfumery. If you missed the first and second parts view them in the previous two posts.

We’ll be delving deeper into accords creation in The Artisan Perfumery Mastermind this week with a special one-off live masterclass on Thursday so if you’re not in the programme yet make sure you join here to grab your spot on the live session.

I had loads of great questions this week and although I can’t cover them all here, I have pulled out the topics that came up the most

How do you know how much of each material to use?

This is a question that comes up so much and something I go into much more depth in my courses but here are a few tips for you:

  1. Firstly get to know your materials with a regular system of study; how high impact they are, how long they last, how they perform on strip, on skin and in different bases.
  2. Secondly pre diluting a small set of your materials in alcohol to 10% means that you can play around with them without wasting too much.
  3. Compose on smelling strips first – A technique of working out which materials may work together is dipping a strip for each material you wish to use and wafting them together under your nose to get an idea of how they may smell together. Of course this is not a fool proof method but it is a starting point. 
  4. The next thing to think about is the impact of the materials which can be assessed on a smelling strip – for example smelling lime oil and mandarin oil on 2 separate strips it is easy to establish that the impact of lime is much higher than mandarin which means that in a blend together you would need way more mandarin and far less lime to prevent the lime from dominating.
  5. Try to stick to using 3 materials especially if using naturals in an accord – the more you add the more muddled it can become so keep it simple especially when you first start. You can always expand them later

What is the best method for creating accords?

(and: “Is there a quicker and less wasteful technique than the jean carles method to make accords – or do shed loads of unsuccessful trials come with the territory? “)

There are two methods for creating accords that I teach. The first is the classic Jean Carles Method and the other a simplified method I use in my in person classes where the Jean Carles method would take too long. I will be doing a live demonstration of both in the Accords Masterclass inside the Artisan Perfumery Mastermind.

For those of you unfamiliar with Jean Carles, he was the perfumer who set up what is now known as the Givaudan Perfumery school and devised his own method for accords creation experiments.

The Jean Carles method involves adding different ratios of each of two materials to small beakers numbered from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 and selecting the ratio that works for you. You then repeat the process with your selected accord and another material. You can go on and on like this but as you can imagine it does take a while and potentially lead to a lot of wastage. If you want to try this method without wastage, I include it in both Module 4 of the Artisan Perfumery Mastermind and in my book “Perfume The Art & Craft Of Fragrance” 

I do think the Jean Carles method is a valuable learning tool and you should definitely try it. However, there is a more simple way to get started:

The simplified method involves following steps 1 to 5 above and adding 2 of the materials at a 1:1 ratio and adjusting before adding the third. Start with the 2 materials with the most similar level of impact and scale up your blend before attempting to add the third stronger material.

For more help with this method check out Module 4  in The Artisan Perfumery Mastermind or the recording of my Make A Natural Perfume Masterclass 

Is the approach to making accords different if you are working with a naturals/synthetic/mix?

Whilst the creation method is not different, you definitely need to keep it simpler and use a smaller number of materials in a natural accord or it will become muddled. If you are using complex synthetic bases, you might also need to do this too whereas you can get away with and often do need more materials when using isolates or single molecule aromachemicals. Ultimately keeping it simple to a few materials in each accord is best regardless of the natural/synthetic mix. Remember it is an accord that will be used with other accords in your finished perfume so don’t try to cram everything in at once.

I hope that helps and let me know how you get on with your accord creation!

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