Aveda’s Perfumer Guy Vincent Tells Us Why Natural Scents Are So Tricky
Natural is the buzzword in beauty these days but Aveda has been all about green ingredients since the brand first launched in 1978. So the folks there know their stuff. Guy Vincent, the perfumer for the company, recently sat down with Us Weekly at the Aveda Congress in Minneapolis to give us the scoop on how making fragrances for beauty products from materials created by good ol’ Mother Earth can be challenging — and spill all about that signature Aveda scent. Read on for the scoop!
Us Weekly: When you’re doing something that has more of an aromatherapeutic effect, do you have to approach things differently?
Guy Vincent: Yes, because I’m an aromatherapist as well. I’ve got all that therapeutic knowledge in my head, but I am also image driven and emotionally driven. What I do is I look at what the product proposition is for first and let’s say you’re working on a shampoo that’s conserving color. So you want it to reassure you that the color isn’t going to get washed out. So the aroma has to be reassuring.
UW: How do you make a reassuring scent?
GV: It needs to be something that is soft and gentle and reassuring. That’s why I use scents that are going to do that. Lavender is really good at calming, ylang ylang is really good at calming. But also you want to make it smell fluffy and nice — things that are not going to be heavy or too empowering, you know?
UW: Where do you get your inspiration when you start working on a fragrance?
GV: It could be the color or it could be a person. I like to imagine a muse, someone I can think of that could be a really good friend and get know them, their personality, the way they look, the way they feel. I imagine a vision for context.
UW: What are the challenges of working with essential oils?
GV: Naturals? There’s a lot of challenges. Number one is they’re not as strong as synthetics. And I don’t have the size of the palette here either. I mean my palette working with naturals is about 300 [scents] give or take versus the synthetic, which has 3000.
UW: So you have to be more creative, I would think.
GV: You do. I could make a rose with synthetics for like $35, but our stuff is $1,600. So you’re really beholden to the strength and the cost and then add in regulations. It’s a lot.
UW: What are people actually smelling in that signature Aveda scent?
GV: That’s funny, I tried to work that out when I first came here. What is it? As a perfumer can I work that out? It’s not one scent, it’s not one style. And to me, it speaks to the quality of the naturals and the style in which they’re put together. So the way I explain it is Aveda’s smell is obviously natural but no one natural is obvious. In your ancient lizard brain you’re going Well, I smell something natural, but is it ylang ylang, is it rosemary? You can’t tell but it’s nice.