Tuesday, November 2, 2021

A perfume formula can be valuable -- very valuable!

To produce a perfume you need a formula. A formula is more or less valuable depending on the perfume produced from it. The formula for a successful perfume will always have great value... and will be a closely guarded secret.

If your interest is in developing a business where you produce your own perfumes you will need formulas. If you are not a perfumer yourself, the simplest way to get formulas is to work with a fragrance house and let their perfumers create formulas for you. You will never see these formulas – the fragrance house will not show them to you – but they will be yours exclusively. What you will see and smell are fragrances produced from these formulas but they will be given to you without any guarantee they will sell.

If you want to start with the formulas for someone else's winners, this too is possible. You won't be able to get your hands on the exact formulas of the originals but, depending on the fragrances you want, you might find good approximations.

What will it cost? Will anything be free?

It you are just starting out with a very limited budget you might wonder if there are formulas you can get free. Two kinds of free formulas can be found online. The first variety involves mixing essential oils. Want formulas? Search Google for "perfume formulas for mixing essential oils" and take your pick. None of these formulas will approximate a best seller.

If you want a more commercial formula for free you can occasionally come across an older one but when you look for the materials needed to make it, two problems arise. Specialty bases used in the past are no longer available and certain raw materials from the past are now banned.

The reality is that a formula, for even an approximation of a successful perfume that can be produced today, is valuable and not something given away free. Why would you want someone else's formula? Usually to produce a replica that can be sold at a lower price. While an authentic bottle of Chanel's No.5 may cost $150, a replica version may sell for $1 (yes, one dollar, and I have purchased one at that price). So how is a knockoff produced? Obviously from a formula but where did that formula come from? Certainly not from Chanel.

The project begins with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. A sample of a popular fragrance is purchased from any store that sells it and the "juice" is run through a machine which breaks down its components by their evaporative times. The results are matched with a database which identifies (or tries to identify) each separate raw material. From this information a crude formula is produced. Then a skilled, experienced perfumer takes the rough data and fills in a few blanks to produce a coherent formula. A good deal of work and expense is involved but now a tool exists to produce an approximation of the original.

Looking at this approximation, two points must be kept in mind. First, since the replica cannot compete with the original on price, its formula must be adjusted to achieve a lower production cost. Expensive naturals are replaced by synthetics. Expensive synthetics are replaced by cheaper synthetics. But there is more to it. Most current best sellers make use of "captives." These are specialty molecules available only to perfumers working for the company that invented them. The knockoff formula has to fudge its way around them because they are almost impossible to replicate.

Innosol, Inc. advertises that it has 20,000 formulas for sale. These formulas are modeled after popular brands and are sold for $500 each. The buyer is warned that to produce each formula a considerable inventory of raw materials will be required but, if you wish, Innosol can arrange the production for you. Their service gives you one way to develop your own product line.

PerfumersWorld offers contemporary formulas as part of their Formulation Bulletin series. Each Bulletin package includes a number of formulas. Also available are physical samples produced from the formulas. A set of formulas plus samples if offered at $149.95. Formulas are sent by email; samples by mail or courier. PerfumersWorld is a source of all raw materials needed to produce these formulas, in small, large, or very large quantities.

Even with a formula in your hands it is recommended that you test it by producing your own small sample before diving in and ordering raw materials on a commercial scale.

The truth is that perfume formulas are valuable. The more successful the perfume made from the formula, the more valuable the formula itself... and even a formula for a good replica of a big seller can be quite expensive.