In an earlier blog, Fragrance 101, I discussed the basics of the scent pyramid, with top, mid and bottom notes. In an effort to describe how we build fragrances (or balance fragrance notes within a scent pyramid) I thought I would discuss how this process was applied in the creation of Eskimo Kiss, a popular Scentsy Fall/Winter fragrance. For most people, myself included, it helps when dominant fragrance notes are called out to help you identify what you think you smell. This exercise will likely be more meaningful if you have a new bar of Eskimo Kiss nearby. If not, you’ll have to use your imagination…
I’m going to start with the top notes and work my way down because when you first open a bar (before even taking the wax out to put it into a warmer), this is primarily what you’re going to smell. Eskimo Kiss has a fairly straightforward and recognizable “top” which includes two different citrus notes, and one fruit note. Fruit notes are typically mid notes, but some can fall into the top note category. The two citruses are grapefruit peel and bergamot tea. The fruit note is brown Thai pear, which plays a secondary but crucial note to the fragrance as a whole—which I’ll cover in greater detail later in this post.
Now take a moment to break the surface of the wax, or heat the “skin” with your fingertip to cause the mid and bottom notes to come through.
The mid notes are predominately fruit and spice notes. The fruit notes, however, dominate what you would perceive if you were holding the mix (of just the mid notes) in a bottle under your nose, which is what I’m doing as I write this. So why include the spice notes if they are simply overwhelmed by the other notes? Great question—though the answer isn’t simple. Spice notes create body or “push”, helping a fragrance to be diffusive. In the case of Eskimo Kiss, the black pepper notes provide a subtle bite or sharpness, and the clove notes create “warmth” that makes the completed fragrance feel cozy. Some of you with particularly good noses will be able to detect both of those spice notes over the predominant blackberry jam, simmering fig, and plum notes which represent the remaining mid notes in Eskimo Kiss.
The bottom or dry-down notes in Eskimo Kiss have a fun Scentsy history to them. If you were able to separate those notes and smell them alone from the rest of the ingredients, many of you would quickly and accurately draw a comparison to another Scentsy favorite, Satin Sheets. The actual ingredients and balance aren’t the same, but the overall experience is surprisingly familiar. The bottom notes are divided amongst three fragrance families: gourmand, woody, and musk. The gourmand note is fairly easy to identify, particularly if you bake… it’s vanilla brulee and has a rich, creamy sweetness to it, similar to real vanilla extract. The woody note is sandalwood and the musk note is a rich amber which imparts that “softly romantic” quality you can read about in the scent description in the catalog.
You might be thinking, “What? That’s it? There’s nothing else to this fragrance?” The reality is that there are more than 30 additional ingredients to this fragrance, each of which plays a particular role, even if you can’t easily identify it or call it out.
Let’s return to that brown Thai pear note in the top note section of the scent pyramid that I indicated I would explain further. This note is used to harmonize some other notes that would have otherwise “clashed” in the fragrance. In other words, it allows two other notes that wouldn’t “play nice” together to effectively unite (or harmonize). Most fragrances, like Eskimo Kiss, include multiple “harmonizing” ingredients.
I hope these details give you a little insight into the balancing act that is the difference between a good fragrance and a great fragrance. The reality is that the vast majority of the fragrances Scentsy adds to our product line require multiple revisions to achieve the perfect balance before they go to catalog. Many final “adjustments” involve shifts of as little as 1% (between the balance of two ingredients) to get it just right. And that’s our goal at Scentsy, to get every fragrance just right.