The Psychology of Fragrance for Personal Care Products

The Psychology of Fragrance for Personal Care Products

More than any of the other senses, fragrances have the ability to affect the emotions and the feelings of individuals. Fragrance can help to set an atmosphere when used within a home or to enhance an individual’s personal style when it comes to the fine fragrances like perfume or cologne that they choose. However, the fragrances used for personal care products can, and should, have a much more intimate meaning for those who use them.
Personal care products such as body soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, and other similar items must therefore be crafted with special care when it comes to their aromas. Perfumists must take into consideration many different factors when designing these aromas, from the type of consumer that they are targeting to the brand experience that they would like to offer to those consumers. In a very real sense, a perfumist in charge of crafting aromas for personal care products must have a good understanding of the psychology of fragrance, and how fragrance can transform a product.

What Factors into a Consumer’s Experience with a Product?

There are many things that play a part in how a consumer experiences a fragrance, especially regarding a personal care product. The first and most important factor that a perfumist must take into consideration is whether or not the fragrance that they have developed delivers on the promise of that particular brand.

One way to do this is to use similar components in multiple types of fragrances throughout that brand. Woody base notes, which can be fragrance ingredients such as natural alpha ionone or extracts such as natural alcohol-free American Oak are just one example of a way that a perfumist can create a recognizable signature aroma for their product line across many different fragrances and many product types.

In addition to branding a fragrance, it is also important for a perfumist to understand exactly what it is that a consumer is looking for out of a personal care product. Because of this, it is important for them to conduct research on their target consumer, whether it is young men or older women, and to have a clear understanding of the language that consumers use when they are describing the products that they want. Words such as “invigorating”, “refreshing”, and “relaxing” all have different connotations in the fragrance industry – especially in regards to personal care products – and require a different methodology for fragrance creation.

And finally, it is important for any perfumist that is creating a custom fragrance for a personal care product to understand the emotional connections and feelings that are inspired by a particular scent, or combination of scents. Having a good knowledge of all three components of fragrance creation can lead a perfumist to tie them all together into a complete package that can meet, and even exceed, buyer expectations.

Invigorating Versus Relaxing Aromas

At the most basic level, fragrances in personal care products will fall into one of two categories. An invigorating aroma can help a buyer to wake up, feel fresh, and prepare to face their day head on, whereas a relaxing aroma is designed to help a buyer unwind and rest.

Invigorating aromas tend to be on the fruitier side, with the bright zing of citrus aromas ranking highly among them. Citrus aromas, which can be recreated with fragrance ingredients such as natural citrus enhancer or natural citronellal, just to name a few, are not gender specific and can be mixed with other great fragrance ingredients to create a range of innovative new fragrance profiles. Certain spices may also fall into the invigorating category, ginger and cinnamon being among the most popular in this type of application. Synthetic aromas such as ozone or “ocean” types of aromas may also fall into this category, in addition to green and grassy fragrances, which can be recreated with fragrance ingredients such as natural green key and natural hexyl alcohol.

Relaxing aromas, on the other hand, tend to be a bit warmer and softer. They lack the sharpness of invigorating aromas on the whole, and often have comforting qualities reminiscent of baked goods. Among the most popular of the relaxing aroma types is natural vanillin, especially when paired with other sweet fragrance ingredients. Chocolate aromas are another popular option. Rich florals such as rose and gardenia are relaxing as well, in addition to floral blends that make use of these and similar types of aromas.

Many types of aromas may fall into either of the two categories, depending on the way that they are blended. An example of this is coconut, which when used for its tropical properties can make a great invigorating scent, and on the other hand can be incredibly relaxing when blended with warmer and richer fragrance ingredients.

Masculine and Feminine Aromas

Another area that is important for a perfumist to pay close attention to is whether or not a personal care product’s fragrance is considered masculine or feminine. On the whole, most products are marketed to either of the genders – very few are considered unisex.

Masculine fragrances tend to be more powerful. Generally, fruity notes and floral aromas are downplayed in these types of fragrances, though they might be used to add subtle notes to the overall aroma and add complexity to a fragrance profile. More favorable in aromas designed for men are strong, powerful fragrance ingredients. For fresh notes, grassy aromas are among the most popular, and are often backed up by woody fragrance notes. Musks are also incredibly popular, as well as a range of unique synthetic fragrance notes. Even notes of aromas such as leather, which can be recreated with synthetic 4 methyl guaiacol, can be found in products oriented toward men.
Feminine fragrances on the other hand tend to emphasize natural fragrance ingredients, especially those that fall within the floral or the fruit family. Fragrances oriented toward women are also more likely to carry exotic undertones such as oriental fragrance notes. Fragrance ingredients traditionally used in men’s personal care product aromas are also fairly commonplace, especially when feminized with other sweeter aroma notes.

Determining Fragrance Needs by Product Type

The final thing to take note of when developing a fragrance for a personal care product is the specific type of product that is being developed. A product such as a liquid body soap or lotion is likely to need a much different type of aroma profile when compared with a facial wash, just to name one example. The former may be designed to be masculine or feminine – relaxing or invigorating. However, a facial wash must not only be invigorating, but it must have a fairly unisex aroma blend in order to ensure that it meets the needs of the widest spectrum of consumer possible.