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The Essence(s) of Brazil

13 june 2014

Brazil is everywhere this year, thanks to the World Cup. But the country, which is so rich both in contrasts and in fabulous landscapes, is also fascinating for the remarkable growth of its beauty market. It is considered to be something of an Eldorado for perfume, cosmetics and skin care, and the sector is paying a lot of attention to it. Yet perfumers have long looked to ingredients drawn from the wealth of Brazil’s natural resources to help create their most stunning fragrances.

One ingredient in particular, which has been present in our world of fragrances for over a century, comes straight from Brazil: tonka bean. An integral part of the famous guerlinade, the source of “coumarin” exhales a lush, warm, multi-facetted scent. Wonderfully resinous, with a touch of almond, too, it radiates gentle aromas of hay and blond tobacco.  Regale yourself in the almond nuances with Guerlain’s Tonka Impériale… unless you prefer to see it in a more honeyed, spicy light, like in Réminiscence’s Tonka.

Coffee absolute, on the other hand, is rarely seen in fragrances, yet the note has a lot going for it. With accents of dark chocolate or tobacco, it can add an intriguing twist to a composition, making it mouth-watering but not gourmand. Find it rounded out with praline and studded with licorice, spices and patchouli in Thierry Mugler’s A-Men, or intertwined with orange blossom, heliotrope and musk in George, by Jardins d’Ecrivains.

Orange is grown over much of Brazil. The essential oil it yields has the freshness that is so characteristic of the citrus family. Orange is often found as a top note in perfumes, as well as in colognes and fresh eaus. Its upbeat vivacity pairs well with mandarin orange and more aromatic notes in Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic, which has a marvelously thirst-quenching scent.

Brazil – as well as Latin America more generally – has yet to yield all of its secrets to perfumers. Composition houses that work for fragrance brands are constantly searching for innovative new notes, within the framework of a sustainable supply for their ingredients. Symrise, for instance, recently built a research center in the Amazon, in order to get the most out of the region’s exceptional biodiversity, while at the same time contributing to local communities’ well-being. We can bet that new essences from South America will soon be shading our fragrances with their fascinating scents!

Sophie Normand

Sophie Normand

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Even though I’ve been fascinated by perfume since I was a teenager, I still studied first law and then journalism. I started writing professionally, and then about three years ago I thought of doing a blog about perfume. Alongside that, I share my passion for perfume through other media as...

  • 16 june 2017

    Brazil's secrets? I cant wait for the discoveries. The guerlinade is composed of some of my favorite notes so keep it coming. I adore tonka bean in fragrances as well.

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  • 09 october 2014

    Hay, chocolate, coffee and tobacco are luscious. A darkening of the gourmand is not a bad decision. The World Cup is very exciting and I think the US is finally taking an appreciation. I would love to try Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic with my coffee.

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  • 22 september 2014

    Si un perfume cítrico es lo queva con mi personalidad.. sera mi próximo perfume

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  • 13 september 2014

    Las fragancias cítrica son de mis preferidas!

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