Fragrances

Fragrances can make us feel a whole range of emotions. They are an important part of our daily lives and how we connect as human beings. From the familiar smell of our loved ones to the welcoming feeling of our homes.

Woman smelling fragrances

Each unique formula balances individual notes and groups of notes in accords in harmony in much the same way as the composition of a piece of music. But unlike music it is not subject to copyright or patent but protected only by the law of trade secrets.

International Fragrances Association

What’s the first smell you remember – your grandmother’s cooking? The soap with which you washed for school? The cologne your father wore?

Fragrances stir up memories and evoke emotions. The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, and can trigger a recollection of particular moments from the past - what was the last memory a fragrance stirred for you?

At Unilever, we think there is a certain magic to fragrances – bringing together perfumery artistry and scientific expertise. It’s important we get this right. People across the world use Unilever products in their homes, on their bodies, and through their daily lives to look good, feel good and importantly, smell good! A pleasant scent can also help to lessen the chore with which you’re faced and make everyday tasks more enjoyable. By bringing the world around us to life, fragrances help shape our daily lives.

Lots of ingredients are used to create a thoughtfully balanced fragrance that smells ‘just right’. This is the magic of fragrances.

How scents are made

Did you know that across the entire globe of 7.5 billion people, there are less than 900 fully qualified perfumers. We are lucky to have our small dedicated team that are experts in this field.

Our expert teams develop our brand fragrances in close partnership with the leading fragrance houses. By working with the best fragrance developers in the world, we make sure we have access to the best perfumers and the highest quality ingredients.

The part of the brain that processes smells is called the limbic system. It is also the part of the brain that plays a major role in controlling mood and emotions. There are many popular fragrance notes that people like. Take fougere fragrances notes for example – this consists of Lavender, Geranium and Woody notes. 

If you use our Dove shampoo, you will recognise this scent. It became popular in the 1960s, and today is used widely to add a sense of cleanliness and freshness. Fougere fragrances notes are one of 17 different groups of fragrance notes that we use to create scents.

Unilever Flower wheel

A little goes a long way

It can take dozens of ingredients to get a fragrance perfectly well-balanced and smelling just right! Sometimes a very small amount of fragrance ingredient can make a big impact to develop the smell people like.

We also use new scientific techniques to continue to build this magic. For example, we use a technique called ‘encapsulation’ to hold the fragrance in a product. This acts as a protection for the fragrance contained inside and releases the fragrance at specific moments in time, which enhances the instant blooming of the perfume.

Unilever frangrance percentage

Our view on some specific fragrance ingredients

We are sometimes asked about specific fragrance ingredients. Here is our view on some of those about which we are asked more frequently:

  • Musks provide long-lasting fragrance notes. Synthetic musks, such as nitromusks and polycyclic musks (PCMs), were developed as ethical alternatives to animal musks. We have stopped using synthetic nitromusks because they can build up in the environment and following consumer preferences, we have also reduced our use of policycyclic musks and wherever possible use alternatives that can deliver similar long-lasting fragrance notes. 
  • Lyral is a common fragrance ingredient with floral notes. A small number of people have an allergy to Lyral, but with evidence of these numbers growing, we have removed Lyral from all our product formulations, except for just a handful of products which we are still working on.
  • Phthalates can be used to mix fragrance ingredients but we don’t use phthalates. Instead we use other approaches to bring our fragrances together. You can read more about phthalates here.

What’s right for you?

We know people want to understand more about fragrances and we believe that we can help build understanding, reassurance and trust through providing information online. To do this, we offer detailed information online through What’s in our Products and list the individual fragrance ingredients which are used in our home and personal care products.

Our ingredient transparency initiative is designed to help you and give you more choice. Some people prefer unscented or fragrance-free products, perhaps because they like them that way, or because they or someone in their family may react to certain fragrance ingredients. For that reason, we make ranges of lightly-scented or fragrance-free products to give you a choice. You can find out more about our approach to allergies here.

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