Fragrance Facts

What's in a scent?

Did you know most people can distinguish more than 10,000 different scent materials? And remember a scent with 65% accuracy after a whole year? That’s why fragrance can evoke powerful feelings.

How are fragrances made?

Only a small proportion of most products are actually made of fragrance – usually less than 2%. And yet that small amount contains many tiny ingredient molecules that must be expertly combined. A typical oil-based fragrance could have as many as 50 different ingredients; a complex fragrance might mix 50 to 200.

Perfumers combine fragrance ingredients to create a scent. For us, they select from our approved palette of materials, which can include ingredients that are:

  • Naturally occurring, meaning extracted from plants and flowers
  • Nature-identical, meaning synthetic ingredients that chemically mirror naturally occurring scents but are made in a laboratory
  • Custom-made, meaning those made in a laboratory using different combinations of molecules for unique or complex new scents

For SC Johnson’s fragrance ingredient palette, we require that any fragrance materials our perfumers use meet International Fragrance Association standards and our own SC Johnson standards.

Our internal analysis may look at the same criteria as IFRA, such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or reproductive toxicity, but we may take a different view of an ingredient. In some instances, we may also consider additional factors such as consumer confidence with ingredients or other scientific viewpoints.

How does scent work?

You have scent receptors in your nose that cause a unique electrical signal that your brain interprets as a scent.

Because of where scent receptors are located in your brain, when you smell a scent, your brain connects that scent with the memory or emotion of that moment. So while we don't all like the same scents, scents are meaningful to all of us.

That’s why the fragrances you choose for your home give it a mood and personality – whether it’s the fresh scent of a clean kitchen or the soothing aroma of a flickering candle.

What Makes a Fragrance Smell Good?

A great fragrance requires many different materials because it has "layers" of scent that give it depth and character.

  • Top notes are the first thing you smell. They're usually fresh and light, and evaporate quickly.
  • Mid notes are the scents that really define the overall body of a fragrance. They emerge as the top note is dissipating.
  • Base notes are heavier and longer lasting. They bring depth and leave an impression – you might not really perceive a scent's base notes until you've been around it for 30 minutes!