I spend most of my time reviewing and talking about “fine fragrances”. You know, the fragrances that we choose to wear that often comes in fancy, glimmering bottles. The stuff that influences our emotions and what we perceive as art. I want to start spending some time discussing functional fragrances. The fragrances that are used to scent our laundry detergent, our shampoo, our spray starch, the fragrances that are everyday occurrences in our lives. Do we consider these scents art? Should we?
I’ve always been impressed with “functional fragrances” because these are the source of many of my first scent memories. I can smell a fine fragrance and say, “This smells like Pledge” and everyone knows what I’m talking about. These fragrances are so familiar and usually memory inducing, be it a shampoo your sister used in the 70’s that’s discontinued or the Murphy’s Oil Soap that your mom still uses, these are the scents that induce memories. Nostalgia is the phenomenon that will make somebody pay anything to smell like old-school Breck
I also like functional fragrances because they are cultural. Americans associate home cleaning smells with lemon. I remember in Northern Europe, evergreen scents were popular in home cleaners. It’s sensory ecology.
Another reason why I am fascinated with functional fragrances is because it is perfumery. It’s perfumery for the masses, accessible to everyone. Chemists are designing cheap synthetics. These synthetics must literally take a beating through the washer at scalding temps or smell but not have a taste. Not only are there chemists, but there are trained perfumers (or both) behind these functional fragrances trying to make a dish soap smell good with like a budget of 20¢. It amazes me that any of these final functional fragrances can smell tolerable at all. I can’t imagine what it is like to add fragrance to a base that is meant to remove rust from toilets. That must be very different than using perfumer’s alcohol!
The more that I sniff functional fragrance, the more “fine fragrance” I smell and vice versa. This has been a new epiphany for me. And this is why I want to start reviewing more functional fragrances. These won’t be a review of the effectiveness of a dish soap but the smell of it and similarities between it and fine fragrances. I’m not an expert. I’m not going to offer insider’s information on aromachemicals but I can offer a fragrance lover’s perspective, one that you can “test” and comment on because you may have these items at home. And who doesn’t want to reminisce on the scent of Cashmere Bouquet soap?
Victoria at Bois de Jasmin wrote a wonderful article about functional perfumery and she’s a great resource. This article and her insight “opened” my eyes to this world. I had heard things before that the smell of Downy was based on Oscar perfume, but I didn’t realize that esteemed Noses were also scenting Nair. Wouldn’t it be nifty if you knew that the next deodorant you bought was a Sophia Grosjman?
I’m trying to do this new “segment” on EauMG at least once a month. Stay tuned. The topic will be dish soaps. How exciting!