The word, fixative, as it pertains to fragrance fixatives, is an old term for any natural substance that will hold and ‘fix’ a fragrance so that it will last longer on the skin.
These compounds equalize vapor pressures and limit the instability of fragrance facets, and thereby, prolong the longevity of the raw materials found in the essential oils of any given perfume.
This is always a major concern and it ultimately determines the successful launch of any fragrance within the highly competitive perfume industry.
Many fixatives are found in the base notes of compositions, and they are kept at about 3 to 5%.
How To Identify The Right Fragrance Fixatives
The formula for fixatives can be used over and over again in other perfumes to create a fragrant accord.
The difficulty with adding fixatives to a particular scent is the fact that more times than not, a fragrance is built around a base note or chosen fixative. It is not an element that can just be added impulsively or as an after thought.
Some fixatives, however, do blend more seamlessly than others into a perfume such as: lush, noble vanilla and creamy sandalwood.
This is why they are so widely used among the world’s most renowned perfumers.
When formulating fine perfumes, delicate raw materials meld into a concentrate, which renders superior aspects, but they do not last very long on the skin.
Natural fixatives, such as: sweet, earthy ambergris and velvety, sensual civet, once served to increase longevity and stability, but it was almost to the point of animal extinction.
Today they are hardly if ever used due to strict environmental protection laws. Modern perfumers have come to rely mostly on synthetics.
One powerful creation is known as Fixative BMV, which is almost odorless, and can be used at a percentage of up to 10%. Its only detraction is the fact that it is not soluble in alcohol.
A Few Relevant Statistics About Fragrance Fixatives
The global market for fragrance fixatives in 2022 was estimated at USD 1,85 billion million, and is expected to mushroom by the year, 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3 % during the forecast period.
Market growth is deemed to be the result of a dynamic demand for premium fragrances formulated by perfume manufacturers as well as the growing awareness about the importance of personal grooming and hygiene and rising consumer disposable income.
Which Ingredients Are Considered Fragrance Fixatives?
There are both natural and synthetic fixatives.
Natural fixatives are resinoids, which are additives used in many perfumes and cosmetic products that are secreted from plants that produce a thick sticky substance known as resin.
These include: rich, sweet and smooth benzoin; piney, spicy frankincense; woody, warm myrrh; fresh, deep and lemony olibanum; sugary, fruity and dry labdanum; sugary, vanilla nuanced storax, fresh, sweet and glorious tolu balsam; leathery, animal and smoky castoreum; earthy musk, and pungent, velvety and smooth civet.
They can also fall under the category of tinctures, gums, powders and sometimes herbs.
Synthetic fixatives include substances of low volatility and virtually odorless solvents with very low vapor pressures. More on each follows below.
This extremely costly fixative derives from the digestive system of the sperm whale. Also known as gray amber, its value is due to its superb tenacity, but its legality is a thorny issue, so much so that it has been replaced by a synthetic version known as Ambroxan.
Synthesized from naturally occurring compounds, its odor profile is ambery and cedar-like, and very close to the aroma of ambergris.
This fixative gives body to many perfumes, and slows the dispersion of essential oils and other fragrance materials into the air.
It is particularly prevalent in ambery perfumes and is known to be sweetly seductive. It is often found in cosmetic and personal care products, scented candles and in veterinary medicinal products.
In the words of perfumer, Alienor Massenet: “Benzoin is as suave as vanilla, and has a touch of cinnamon to it. I use it for both feminine and masculine fragrances. It renders an openness and sexuality…”
A secretion from a beaver’s castor sac that marks the animal’s territory, this fixative gained popularity in perfumery during the 19th century, but is considered illegal today.
Its odor profile is leathery and smoky with tinges of dried fruit, plum and black olives.
It is mostly found in chypre, woody and ambery fragrances, and it is the preferred ingredient for suggesting a leather facet.
Derived from the adrenal glands of a small southeast Asian mammal, the aroma profile is potent, fecal and animal-like. It is also known as civet musk.
This plant is grown for its essential oils, which finds wide usage in Alpha Aromatics’ perfumes.
It contains a fixative known as sclareolide, which is often applied as a replacement for ambergris, sugary maple, biting pepper, exotic spice, floral, mild tea and woody, honeyed tobacco.
This synthetic musk is often used in both perfumes and colognes and is well known for its sugary, musky and floral character.
Iso E Super
The use of this fixative dates back to the 1960s and it is well known for its transparent, extremely rich and pleasant aroma, which features green, earthy vetiver, dark, passionate patchouli and woody, dry and cedar-like facets.
It is also used in the food industry as a substitute for lush and sweet vanilla.
Orris root powder is the dried and ground root that derives from the iris plant. The odor profile is pleasing and similar to the woody, powdery aspects of violet. It is used as a fragrance fixative and has stabilizing properties that are also found in cosmetics and potpourri.
Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate
Also known as GRAS, which means Generally Recognized As Safe, this emulsifier (stabilizer) is used both as a fragrance fixative and as a food additive.
It features warm, soft green facets that are reminiscent of freshly cut grass, vast greenfields of summer and sweet, fresh clover.
Why Turn To Us For Your Fragrance Design Needs?
Our master perfumers rely on fixatives for an endless array of complex woody, chypre and Oriental (ambery) perfumes we create for a multitude of industries and product manufactures, all of which turn to us because —
- Our laboratories are equipped with the most advanced, sustainable technologies available on the industrial science marketplace.
- Our unique, organic, natural and designer fragrances are ubiquitous, and found in a multitude of personal care products, candles and diffusers, fragrances for home, odor neutralizers, private label brands and industrial air fresheners.
- Our chemists are among the most talented found anywhere in the industry and their reputation is as stellar today as it was at the time of its inception as a family-run business, almost eighty years ago.
- Our customized work is known all over the world.
If you are the owner or manager of a business and seeking something new and fragrantly daring, contact our teams and consider a scent containing a fascinating fragrance fixative at its base.
The right fragrance in the right place or product can do wonders for cementing brand loyalty and increasing that all-important bottom line!
Photo Credits: Pixabay, Shutterstock and Alpha Aromatics