Every Ingredient that Makes Functional Fragrance Smell So Good

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This month marks the launch of our most innovative formula yet. Functional Fragrance is an anti-stress supplement in the form of a scentand it smells addictively good. Here, the nose behind the magic, Frank Voelkl decodes the meaning of each ingredient used. Let's dive in.

Cardomome Verte
"Cardamom is a very important ingredient in Functional Fragrance. It’s also an ingredient that is personally very close to my heart. It’s spicy, fresh, and very crisp. I’ve always loved to use it, but last year I grew even more attached to it after a trip to Guatemala. At Firmenich [the world-renowned fragrance house where Voelkl works], we have a program called Naturals Together. It’s a partnership initiative with producers of natural ingredients, like cardamom. In Guatemala, I met with the young women harvesting the seeds, I saw them dried, brokered + eventually extracted into the essential oil that I've used here."

"Bergamot is a citrus fruit from the south of Italy. You don’t eat it, but what you can use is the peel. It’s very fresh and floral. It’s used in earl grey tea, so if you like that, you know bergamot. It’s a fresh, universally appealing note."

"Typically used in Asian cuisine, cilantro has a mild aldehydic effect, which means it’s a touch metallic. This adds what I call a ‘fresh vibration’ to the fragrance."

Myrrh Oil + Myrrhone
"Myrrh oil is natural and has a warm, balsamic quality. Myrrhone is a special molecule, unique to Firmenich. I like to work with both, because the naturals oil and the molecules have very different effects in fragrance. Together they bring an almost mushroom-y note: dry, woody, and a little iris-like."

"I love to work with orris. It’s the root of iris flowers and you have to dry it out for seven years to develop its scent. It brings a very strong accent to the fragrance earthy, powdery, and not a bit flowery at all."

"This refers to the leaves of the violet plant, not the flowers. In Functional Fragrance, they bring a green, almost cucumber-like scent."

"Jasmine is a very beautiful white floral note that smells fruity and animalic. It can smell almost banana-like to some people. It's a little bit narcotic and intoxicating—a very exotic note."

"Cedarwood is not so exotic, but it’s a very important ingredient nonetheless. It’s mostly grown in Virginia. Just like a tree, it adds spine to the fragrance. It’s building the structure, like a trunk."

The musk we use today is not animal musk. Here, I’ve used special molecules that create a very warm, sensual + skin-like feeling."

Palo Santo
"Palo Santo is a wood from Latin America. In this case it’s not an extract, but what we call a nature print. What that means: Some natural ingredients cannot be extracted, so we have a methodology called HeadSpace, where you can analyze the scent + recreate it molecularly. Palo Santo is creamy, a little spicy, and adds an interesting depth to the fragrance."

"Ambrox is another molecule with roots in a natural, raw ingredient called Ambergris. Ambergris comes from sperm whales originally, but science has allowed us to synthesize that scent and transform it into a vegan molecule, with no animal origin. It's completely non-toxic and cruelty-free."

"Guaiacwood has a smoky, very warm smell. It adds warmth and richness."

Photograph Casey Zhang for The Nue Co. 

Read our full interview with Frank Voelkl here