Why is Linalool on most perfume labels?

Why is Linalool on most perfume labels?

Linalool is a molecule found in almost all modern perfumes. In this article I’m going to explain exactly why that’s the case, why you see it on so many perfume ingredients labels and how it’s used by perfumers.

What is linalool?

Linalool comes under a class of molecules called terpenes, and while this means little to the layperson, what’s important to know is that like many other terpenes, linalool is naturally found in a vast array of plants, from the beloved lavender to the zesty bergamot. Consequently, it makes its way into countless essential oils. In fact, Ho Wood and Rosewood essential oils contain upwards of 80% linalool. Its prevalence in essential oils means that it naturally finds its way into a significant number of perfumes, often without the conscious intention of the perfumer. But that doesn’t make it insignificant nor is this the only way that linalool finds its way into perfumes as we’ll soon find out about its intentional uses by perfumers too.

Why is linalool found on so many ingredients labels?

Perfumers don’t often put things on the ingredients labels if they don’t have to. After all, why would they reveal the secrets of their laboriously perfected compositions to the world? The thing about linalool, however, is that it’s classified by the EU as an allergen, who dictate that it must be shown on the ingredients label when present at levels above 0.001% in the final perfume. That means the perfumer only has to add a touch of an essential oil to have a good chance of having to declare linalool on their ingredients label. Ultimately, this allows consumers who know they have an allergy to linalool to avoid the product.

Applications of linalool in perfumery

The widespread presence of linalool in natural raw materials comes with a hidden benefit. The smell of many flowers and fruits naturally contains linalool, and these are common targets for reproduction by perfumers, who reconstruct those smells via “accords” (harmonious blends of raw materials). This is important in perfumery since raw materials extracted from flowers are usually expensive and, in most cases, fruits don’t yield an extract usable in perfumery, making this exercise necessary. The addition of linalool to these blends imparts a naturalness into the accord which otherwise becomes more prone to smelling synthetic like the other ingredients which go into it. I explain how to do this practically with example formulas in my online perfumery course.

Mastering Linalool in Perfume Composition

Linalool's value in perfumery extends beyond its ability to enhance the natural qualities of fragrances. This versatile molecule can be used to create a sense of "space" within a fragrance composition and contributes to the immediate projection (technically this is called impact).

Much like the role played by molecules like hedione and Iso E Super, linalool can help to nest and smooth out other raw materials in a perfume, allowing them to breathe and coexist harmoniously. This is used in some modern, designer-style fragrances, where a clean, smooth, and cohesive scent profile is often desired.

Furthermore, linalool's softer and creamier cousin, ethyl linalool, has also gained traction in the perfume industry. This synthetic variant can be employed in a similar manner to linalool, but often aligns better with the cleanliness of contemporary fragrances.

Both linalool and ethyl linalool can be used in the same way that bergamot is traditionally used in compositions, bridging the top and mid notes. Remember, linalool is a major component of bergamot essential oil.

I talk about linalool and ethyl linalool in my online perfumery course in the module on superpower raw materials for perfume, along with other similar molecules which are often used in modern fragrances.

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