FRESH SCENT Could these new makeup collections replace your perfume?
Scented makeup is bringing a new sweet sensation to your beauty routine
If you close your eyes and think about what your grandmother smelled like when you were a child, chances are you’ll think of her perfume but also her lipstick or rouge. Fine fragrance and makeup have been cross-pollinating on dressing tables for decades, but recently this feminine partnership has become more creative and nuanced.
Initially, scent was used in cosmetics to mask the odours of the base materials rather than to enhance the user’s experience— and to a degree, this is still true. But many high-profile perfumers are now designing elegant scents specifically for makeup. “When I think of my mother’s lipstick, I think of rose and violet,” says master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, who is in the process of developing cosmetics for his own line. But creating a perfume is very different from engineering a fragrance for makeup—the former is meant to be an element of self-expression and linger all day; the latter is a fleeting sensation meant to enhance application. “Since makeup comes very close to the nose, the scent should not be overwhelming,” says Ruhi Patil, perfumer at International Flavors and Fragrances, which creates scents for brands such as Clean. “It should be easy and subtle.”
The biggest difference, however, lies in the ingredients. Many of the notes used in makeup, which comes in close contact with the mouth or eyes, are food grade, such as vanilla. “For makeup, the ingredient palette is quite limited for toxicological reasons, and for lipstick and eye makeup, it is even more restricted,” says Patil. But Kurkdjian points out that the perfumer’s palette is much more plentiful than it used to be. “If I wanted to create a peach scent for a lip gloss 50 years ago, I’d have had three ingredients to use. Now I have maybe 25, so the scent is juicier,” he explains.
In recent years, makeup has taken its scent cues more from the world of flavours, perhaps because the two have much in common. “The texture of lipstick and yogurt is more or less the same— it’s fat,” says Kurkdjian. “You can take strawberry flavouring for yogurt and adapt it to lipstick. There it has more bloom and is more luminous, less flat.”
That addictive scent has benefits beyond a quick sniff. Patel says it gives a familiarity and comfort when you use the same gloss every day or signals excitement when you try a new purchase. But the most bankable benefit: Smell is the easiest way to sleuth out counterfeit makeup. One sniff of a lipstick bullet and you’ll know if it’s M.A.C’s vanilla or a cheap imposter.
“When I think of my mother’s lipstick, I think of rose and violet.” —Francis Kurkdjian