What makes scents now: The rapid change of the fragrance industry
The fragrance industry is changing rapidly. Katie Wright discovers some innovative ways in which it is responding to customer demands
Of all the sectors of the beauty industry, fine fragrance might seem relatively unchanging compared to, say, make-up, where products and trends come and go in the blink of an eye.
There may be thousands of new perfumes and colognes launched every year, but the vast majority come in the same old format: a bottle of (usually very expensive) scented liquid. Right?
Actually, perfumery is going through a period of rapid change, with established makers responding to the changing needs and desires of the modern customer, and a host of digital-native brands cropping up offering an innovative route to discovering your next favourite fragrance.
"People don't want to smell the same as everyone else anymore," says Tara Derakshan, co-founder of subscription service Sniph, which sends subscribers a new perfume from a niche brand to try each month, either 4ml for £9 or 8ml for £14 (which is then discounted if you choose to buy a bottle). "Bespoke is becoming a trend and you want to build your own identity with your own unique smell."
Ready for a whiff of what's to come? Here are five fresh ways to experience fragrance:
1. Hair fragrance
If you want your perfume to last longer, you shouldn't limit your spritzes to your neck and wrists, says Nathalie Lorson, the perfumer behind new Jimmy Choo Fever.
"Long hair is very good, because the hair keeps the fragrance very well. When you move, if you have long hair, it gives you a lot of 'train'," she says, meaning the cloud of perfume that lingers in your wake.
A new wave of mists, oils and even dry shampoo make it easy to scent your strands and catch that train.
Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Body & Hair Oil, £42 for 100ml
YSL Mon Paris Hair Mist, £35 for 30ml, Fabled
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Scented Hair Mist, £65 for 70ml, Selfridges
Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose Dry Shampoo, £25 for 150ml, House of Fraser
2. Digital services
Looking for your next signature scent? A variety of subscription services now offer an accessible way to test a perfume before deciding whether to invest in a full-size version.
"It's super-hard to try fragrances in the shop - your nose can't do more than five. And also, what you think smells good at first sniff may not smell good on your skin," explains Derakshan. "We think you need a month to really wear it and decide, 'Do I love it? Do people react to it? How does my skin project it? Does it empower me? Does it make me feel happy?'"
Scent Addict is a similar service but it's all about big-name designer perfumes, while Secret Scent Box delivers three mystery samples a month.
While monthly services offer a curated collection, Hermetica is the first digitally-focused producer, using an online personality quiz to determine which of its 13 eau de parfums is right for you.
I was sceptical but amazingly, after answering a series of abstract questions like, 'When do you daydream?' and 'What's your sweet escape?' I was told Source1, which contains my absolute favourite fragrance note, amber, was my ideal match, and when it arrived it was love and first sniff.
Hermetica Source1 Eau de Parfum, £155 for 100ml
3. Perfume pens and brushes
Following last year's world-first from Jo Loves - paintbrushes that encapsulate a scented gel to paint on your pulse points - we've seen an explosion in alternative methods of application, particularly those designed with portability in mind.
YSL has taken the click-and-dab pen that fans of Touche Eclat concealer will instantly recognise, and filled it with Black Opium. Thierry Mugler has created a Perfuming Pencil available in three bestselling scents (Alien, Angel and Aura), while Juicy Couture offers a dual-ended rollerball the size of a lipgloss.
YSL Black Opium Click Eau de Parfum, £29 for 2g, The Perfume Shop
Thierry Mugler Alien Perfuming Pencil, £26 for 3ml, The Perfume Shop
Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy Glace Eau de Parfum Rollerball, £7.99 for 10ml, The Perfume Shop
4. Solid perfume
Also handy for popping in your purse or avoiding airport liquid limitations, solid perfumes are great for topping up on the go.
Glossier's hugely popular You scent has been reimagined in a cute pink pebble-shaped holder, and Diptyque's beautiful floral composition Eau Rose, is available in a chic black compact.
Glossier You Solid Perfume, £19 for 4g
Diptyque Limited Edition Eau Rose Solid Perfume, £34 for 3.6g
5. Body sprays
OK this is actually more of a comeback than a futuristic innovation, but where Jo Loves leads, other brands often follow, so we think this is the revival of every Nineties teen's favourite way to wear fragrance.
Jo Loves Graffiti Art collection comprises aerosol can versions of four single-note varieties - Fig, Grapefuit, Tuberose and Vetiver - so you can layer with other products to create a long-lasting scent that's uniquely yours.
Jo Loves Grapefruit A Fragrance Body Spray, £40 for 150ml