The impact of smell in make-up


Perfuming make-up, is it a necessity?

When a smell comes into contact with our olfactory mucosa, our first reaction is to express whether we like it or not. “It is the hedonic dimension of smell which is then triggered in the process. For other senses such as sight or hearing, we go first through a descriptive phase and then we express a judgement,” explains Isabelle Ferrand Director of Cinquième Sens. The appreciation of scents is related to our olfactory memories, “we are at the crossroads of our emotions and of our memories,” she emphasises. Odours and emotions are closely connected and it should be noted, still according to Isabelle Ferrand “that an emotion makes us act while reason makes us reflect.” In the assessment of a product, fragrance can then play a significant role. Does it mean then, that it has to be added to all cosmetics and even to make-up products?

It depends of the product

For Hélène Lefur, independent professional make-up artist and trainer for companies, “No, make-up is not intended to be perfumed. What I’m looking for is primarily a technicality, a performance, a result. I have worked on movie sets with very fragrant products, latex used for aging people. Artists endured this situation well and it was even a way for them to take ownership of their character” In general, certain make-ups, those associated with a glamorous gesture, like a loose powder, a lipstick, can do with a fragrance especially if it exploits avenues of emotions. “We all remember the powdery smell of our grandmothers” recalls Ferrand. In foundations, half of them are fragranced. “20 years ago, there were a lot more neutral products. Perfume was introduced initially to cover the base consisting of waxes and oils with fatty notes” points out Anne Abriat from The Smell and Taste Lab. “If a fragrance is required, it must be subtle because we often apply up to 5 or 6 beautifying products” adds Hélènes Lefur.

A brand’s signature

As far as brands are concerned, there is clearly no perfume strategy for make-up products. “In the mass market we can find products with very sophisticated notes and conversely, some highly tech but yet unscented products” says Abriat. In addition companies, that were from the start perfumers’ companies like Guerlain integrate as early as the marketing brief, the fragrance which then becomes an additional signature to the make-up. Raw materials used are then quite evanescent in order not to interfere with the client’s perfume. “We focus on finding very fleeting top notes that do not hinder the application of other products” explains Abriat. The fragrance then brings a touch of pleasure, cheerfulness, and an emotion. “Mac was the first to introduce, in its brown shaded colours, chocolate, praline, cocoa notes and it turned out being an important client loyalty factor. Perfuming a product can be very strategic,” she adds. Fun, gourmand, fruity scents currently appeal to teenage girls. “In 2013, 50% of women’s fragrances feature fruity notes and we can notice that these universes are starting to influence glosses, lipsticks, nail polishes,” points out Ferrand. Moreover, Hélène Lefur adds, “teenage girls are very fond of glosses with sweet – fruity notes”.

Original initiatives

Recently, original initiatives were launched by the big names in cosmetics, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel who are now offering fragranced mascaras. “We must, however, be very careful in the fragrancing of products dedicated to this sensitive face area” recommends Ferrand.

Could it be a new trend emerging or epiphenomena?