With regard to products that are either put in or on your body, I've always believed that natural or minimally processed ingredients are the sensible choice whenever possible. This was my perspective years ago when I began to search for a Bay Rum aftershave. I was new to the "wet shaving" scene, and while I had never smelled a Bay Rum aftershave before, I was sure it was something I'd like based on the fragrance notes that were consistently mentioned in product descriptions. Spicy. Warm. Sweet. Citrusy. Ingredients that kept showing up were West Indies Bay Leaf (of course), Clove, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Orange, and various woods. They all sounded nice to me.I tried several brands, and found that none of them were exactly what I wanted. They were either a bit medicinal, too harsh, or smelled downright cheap and synthetic.
Having only been exposed to designer, department store type fragrances until then, I was surprised by the stark differences in the general characteristics of mass-market fragrances versus the niche creations I was sampling. This piqued my curiosity about the ingredients and process of fragrance creation. I started a bit of research and began learning about the differences between synthetic and natural fragrances. I wanted to smell real Pimenta Racemosa (aka Bay Rum oil), so I purchased a small bottle of the essential oil. Soon after, I even went so far as to buy a Pimenta Racemosa tree (which is still thriving in our back yard) in order to be sure that the oil(s) were authentic.
What I love about fragrance is its ability to create atmosphere, trigger a memory, evoke an emotion, or spark your imagination. Additionally, I believe that in general, people feel best when they are closest to nature. So when the idea for actually developing my own product began to take hold, I was sure of one thing - in order to create the most immersive fragrance experience, it had to be natural. Here's why. Natural fragrance materials such as essential oils are usually composed of many different molecules in various amounts and ratios that add up to a complex harmony of scent. Bay Oil, for example, is a combination of Eugenol, Myrcene, Limonene, Linalool, and dozens of others. A synthetic version would only approximate the fragrance of this oil by blending a selected subset of these molecules. The end result can certainly be pleasant, but will always be an interpretation of the original material by the perfumer. I like to use the analogy of comparing the sound of a vinyl record to an mp3. The warmth, slight fuzziness, and occasional crackles and pops of listening to a record add to the auditory experience. Strip all that away, clean it up and compress it and you have an infinitely and inexpensively reproducible product, but lacking a key component of its personality. So to achieve the desired effects mentioned above, we create our fragrances using raw materials that are extracted from natural sources to design the most complete, true-to-life, and immersive fragrances possible.