Welcome to part one of the two-part series on fragrance construction. We’ll be delving deeper into fragrance construction in The Artisan Perfumery Mastermind next week with a special one-off live masterclass so if you’re not in the programme yet make sure you join here to grab your spot on the live session.
What method of construction should you use if you are just working with natural materials?
The simplest method of putting accords together in a finished fragrance is the classic pyramid structure as described by Jean Carles. This is the one I would recommend if you are just starting out and you are using only natural perfumery materials including essential oils.
What is the Pyramid Method?
In Jean Carles’s series of articles, he describes a method of creating fragrances whereby you start by creating an accord made up of base notes. You then use mid notes to modify that base before adding top notes for lift and interest.
To make it easier for beginners I have modified this method slightly and encourage you to create each section (top/mid/base) in a separate container before blending them together.
Follow the method for creating accords in the post here and repeat the process treating each accord as a separate material.
Play around with the different ratios of top/mid/base accords depending on the fragrance you are trying to create. There are a lot of opinions on what percentage of each you “should” use, but honestly it really depends. Only you will know what works for your individual fragrance formulation.
Things to Keep in mind
I don’t always recommend starting with the base and working up. It really depends on the type of fragrance you are creating. Instead start with the main character of your fragrance and work out from there.
For example, if you are creating a citrus based fragrance start with the top notes and then gradually blend with the mid and base to support them.
If you are creating a floral, start with the mid notes as that is where the main character will be.
When you are working with natural materials only (especially if you are using a lot of absolutes) its best to keep your materials selection minimal to start with or your formulation can get quite muddy.
I like to use 3 to 4 materials maximum in each accord with naturals only (you can get away with more if using isolates and synthetics) to start with at least.
Hope that helps and watch your inbox for next week’s topic: How to create a “mixed media” fragrance and I’ll also be answering some more of your questions.