The Cost of Perfume Part 1 – Ingredients

A question that’s come up a few times this week is how much of the cost of a perfume relates to the fragrance itself and does more expensive equal better quality.  Does a niche fragrance cost more because the ingredients are better quality or is it just hype? There is no easy answer to this as it will vary hugely depending on the brand but there are a few key factors that you need to look at.

I started writing this article and found there was so much to say I had to split it into 5 parts.  Today in Part 1 I’m going to talk about the thing that most people think is responsible for a high price and that is:


Many brands try to justify a higher price by stating that “we only use the highest quality ingredients” and whilst that may be true for a few it’s not always the case.  Firstly we have been conditioned to think that “best quality” is more costly and also that it is best for the product.  For many product types this may be true but with perfumery the “best quality” may not be what works best for the fragrance in question.  This often comes up for me with the organic versus non organic essential oils. You may have other reasons for choosing organic oils but just because it’s certified organic it doesn’t mean it’s always going to smell better.


A journalist asked me “are niche fragrances more expensive because they are more pure?” For me this is an odd question – if it was about a foodstuff then I guess purity or close to natural source is something to consider but for me perfume is an art form so it’s kind of like asking well is that painting more expensive because the paint is more pure. See what I mean, it doesn’t really make sense in that context.  If you are a fragrance brand that is all about natural and organic = more healthy then that is something to keep in mind but for general fragrance brands ingredients are chosen for how they work in the fragrance composition.

The other thing to keep in mind here is that whilst many natural materials are often more expensive than aroma chemicals it isn’t always the case.  There are many synthetic materials that are actually more expensive than essential oils and absolutes so don’t assume synthetic = cheap as it’s often not true.  The price of ingredients comes down to availability, cost of production and demand. That goes for both naturals and synthetics.  If something is rare, has a low yield or is very labour intensive to produce it will be more costly.  It is easier to standardise with synthetics but not so much with naturals as factors such as climate and political unrest in the producing countries can all affect price.

In part 2 we will look at what is often the most expensive part of a fragrance –THE PACKAGING

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