A Bold New Direction for Modern Perfumery

July 7, 2014

There is a whole new direction evolving in natural perfumery: natural isolates.

If you haven’t yet heard of them, natural isolates are individual fragrance components that are derived from a whole fragrance note or fragrance material. They can be isolated from pure botanical sources, such as mint or rose, from bacteria or fungi, or petrochemicals. However, in the world of natural perfume, only those derived from pure botanical sources are accepted and utilized.

Used correctly, they can be a transformative ingredient in a fragrance, giving unique character and lift such that essential oils and other natural extracts may not.

Australian perfumer Kellie Bright of Larutan ( says, “Natural isolates add light and luminosity to a perfume, and combine well with the complexity and deep beauty of other natural materials”.

Natural isolates are still often used in commercial perfumery, although by and large they have been replaced with cheap-to-manufacture synthetic compounds.

Bright suggests that natural isolates provide an opportunity to extend the natural perfumers’ palette, and allow them to move in interesting directions with the materials they are already using, such as absolutes, resins and essential oils, while still keeping the integrity of the product as 100% natural.


Bright’s fragrance Secret Garden lists notes of red roses, raspberries, dappled sunlight, pear, citrus trees, fresh grass and soft mist, in which she has used the natural isolate raspberry ketone to accent and add sparkle.

Isolates have actually been used since the late 18th century, when menthol was first isolated, and many other natural isolates followed in the next century. In fact, it was the inclusion of natural isolates and not just essential oils and resins that really transformed mainstream perfumery, taking it in a bold new direction in the latter part of the 19th century.

Natural isolates are still often used in commercial perfumery, although by and large they have been replaced with cheap-to-manufacture synthetic compounds.

Fragrance notes such as rose are often enhanced by the inclusion of phenylethyl alcohol (PEA), which this may or may not be naturally derived.

Modern natural isolates have allowed natural perfumers to expand their palette and potentially make their creations more commercially viable as perfumes which include natural isolates tend to have a similar character to the commercial fragrances we’ve grown used to over the past 100 years or so.

Although natural isolates are still a relatively contentious issue among natural perfumers, they have definitely opened up a new world for natural perfumers and consumers alike.

Natural perfume brands that include natural isolates include:


Envoyage Perfumes (Rubicon Collection)

Kellie Bright

Anya’s Garden



Tallulah Jane NYC

If you want to read more about natural isolates, you can get hold of the book, Perfuming With Natural Isolates by Shelley Waddington is considered to be the isolates bible for perfumers.

Post by Liz Cook. Liz is the passionate perfumer behind popular natural fragrance brand One Seed.

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