Les Parfumeurs : musiciens ou chimistes?

Perfumers: musicians or chemists?

Creating a perfume is like composing a symphony. You have to think about the harmony of the notes and create a perfect chord. A perfume is also the product of chemical processes: distillation, extraction, synthesis.

Perfumers, or “noses” , have both artistic and scientific abilities! They are creators and chemists!

So how do these experts create your favorite scent?


Extracting essences reminds us a bit of high school chemistry lessons. But don't panic, we won't give you any surprise questions about creating a perfume, we promise!

Depending on the ingredient chosen, there are different methods for extracting the fragrance from a raw material.

Some extraction techniques are very old. Enfleurage, for example, was discovered during Antiquity. Enfleurage was used for very fragile flowers such as jasmine or violets. This method involves dipping flower petals in animal fat and heating the fat until it is sufficiently saturated. The fat is washed with alcohol to obtain the essence of the flower. However, this is no longer a method used today because it is far too expensive.

Today the most widespread methods are steam distillation and expression (reserved for citrus fruits). The expression is done using a centrifuge to extract the essences from the peels of citrus fruits. Steam distillation allows the ingredient essences to be transported to a condenser where the essence will then be harvested.

With their essences in hand, perfumers must now think about how to combine these scents to create a harmonious fragrance.


The noses use an olfactory pyramid for their compositions, it's their architect side (definitely they really know how to do everything!).

This pyramid makes it possible to organize the ingredients of a perfume in relation to their olfactory family, their intensity, and their evaporation time. The pyramid is divided into 3 for the 3 notes of a perfume: the top notes, the heart notes, and the base notes.

  • Top notes: a fresh leader. This is the first olfactory impression one has of a fragrance. They are composed of volatile raw materials that remain on the skin for the shortest time (less than 2 hours). Typically, the ingredients used for the top notes are citrus fruits (bergamot, orange, lemon…) or aromatics (lavender, anise…).

  • Heart notes: a floral bouquet. The middle notes appear when the top notes begin to dissipate. They have a medium volatility and remain on the skin for 2 to 4 hours. The main ingredients of the heart notes create a stronger olfactory identity. They are usually flowers.

  • Base notes: the trunk of the perfume. The base notes stay on the skin the longest: between 4 to 22 hours. They are composed of more robust and deep scents. These are usually woody, musky or even vanilla and tobacco ingredients.

Like musicians, noses must think of different essence accords in order to create an olfactory harmony that lasts over time.


A perfume is built like a tale or a symphony: there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.

But there is also a prologue! A perfume is not only a mixture of harmonious scents, it is also a story, an emotion. Like Proust's madeleine, the sense of smell contains a strong emotional memory. The smell of the sea, our mother's washing powder, or even our grandmother's chocolate cake are fragrances that provoke strong emotions in us, that transport us in time and space.

The role of a nose is also to take the emotional aspect of the perfume into account. A perfume can thus unite us all around nostalgia and emotions.

To sum up, perfumers do the work of chemists as well as musicians. They provoke strong emotions thanks to complex processes of chemical and artistic compositions.

Bain de Midi, This is the Proust madeleine of the founders of Maison Matine: Marie, fan of idleness in Nice and Arthur Windsurfer from Breton. They both worked with Philippine Courtière, nose at Firmenich, to create Bain de Midi. It is a perfume that immediately makes you travel and makes you think of holidays by the sea.

“Let’s enjoy life, new things. Let’s live simply, lightly.”

Here is the Bain de Midi olfactory pyramid:

  • Top note: bergamot, coconut

  • Heart note: tiare flower, ylang ylang, gardenia

  • Base note: vanilla

Ingredients such as coconut or tiare flower recall the smells of the tropics, the sea, sand, and even sunscreen! Thanks to the creativity of Philippine, and the science behind the perfume, this little bottle that smells good makes us travel far!

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