3 Unexpected Benefits from Reading Labels

I am thankful that, when I was a child, my father encourages me to read the complicated ingredients on the packaging of a product. This had the threefold benefit of:

  1. Not being afraid of chemical sounding names
  2. Demystify scientific-sounding terms (what is Aqua anyhow? )
  3. Encourages inquisitiveness. To become a life long learner. A reverse engineer.

As a child, I was surprised how for many products, like shampoo, their main constituent was water (er…I mean aqua). Now a father, aptly my own son reminds me how we human beings are in fact 70% water. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised after all!

Everyday Aromas & What Not to Do

Reading of the ingredients of products acts as a great springboard into understanding the use and overuse of certain aromas and notes (see next weeks blog post on Key Warnings in Creating and Positioning Luxury Products). The use of fragrance notes in everyday products is important to be mindful of not using the same when creating products for a luxury or premium market. You must ensure perfumes do not trigger associations that are associated with “every day”, “mundane” or “household” products. The slightest whiff or taste of something considered like this detrimental to a luxury product’s positioning.

In short, fragrance ingredients that are used in household products act as triggers thoughts and emotions associated with household and functional tasks which are at odds to being associated with a premium or ultra-premium luxury product.

Fabric Conditioner (Lenor)

I have photographed a pack of Lenor examined. You will see that it contains:

  1. Citronellol
  2. Coumarin
  3. Hexyl Cinnamal
  4. Limonene
  5. Linalool



Citronellol has a fresh, sweet, rosy smell. Being used in perfumes and with insect repellents [1]. The manufacturer adds it is “Widely used in many perfume compositions. Gives a clean, fresh, and natural rosy note to fragrances” [2]

In order to explore this ingredient more, I suggest purchasing a sample from Pell Wall. They describe the aroma as being: [3]

  • floral-rose
  • geranium
  • powdery
  • waxy
  • clean

To order a sample of Citronellol you can buy if from Pell Wall.


Tonka Beans

Photo by MercedesCC BY-SA 3.0

Coumarin is used in certain perfumes and fabric conditioners. [4] It’s name Coumarin comes from a French term for the tonka bean, coumarou, one of the sources from which coumarin was first isolated as a natural product in 1820. It has a sweet odor, readily recognised as the scent of newly-mown hay, and has been used in perfumes since 1882. Pell Wall describes it’s aroma as [5] :

  • sweet
  • hay
  • tonka
  • new-mown-hay

Coumarin is an ingredient with the olfactive perfume family of Fougère along with lavender and oakmoss. [6] 

Pell Wall quotes Steffen Arctander [7] with regard that it is a standard ingredient in Fougère types with Amyl Salicylate and Lavender-notes, with or without Oakmoss.

Read more on “Perfumery Material: Coumarin, Tonka Bean & the Fougere accord” here.

Read more on Coumarin at:



Hexyl Cinnamal

Jasmine - Hexyl cinnamal

Hexyl cinnamaldehyde (hexyl cinnamal) is a common additive in perfume and cosmetic industry as an aroma substance. It is found naturally in the essential oil of chamomile. [8]

Its aroma is described by Gerald Mosciano as being “Sweet, floral, green, citrus and fruity with powdery tropical spicy notes” [9]

Pell Wall describes Hexyl cinnamaldehyde as “One of the essential components of almost every jasmine recreation, this is a lovely soft floral material with only a slight spice note.” [10] He has described the aroma notes as being;

  • sweet
  • floral-jasmine
  • green
  • citrus-fruity
  • powdery
  • spicy


Limonene is the major component in the oil of citrus fruit peels. It takes its name from the peel of the lemon. [10] Limonene exists in two isomeric forms (compounds with the same molecular formula—in this case, C10H16—but with different structures), namely l-limonene and d-limonene [11]. The aroma of d-limonene (also called dextro-limonene, Orange Terpenes) is described at Pell Wall [12] as

  • fresh
  • sweet
  • sharp
  • orange

Read more on the prevalence of d-limonene use in household products and higher end perfumes at Pell Wall.

The aroma of l-limonene has a turpentine like scent mixed with pine . It’s prevalent as an alternative solvent for cleaning products [12].




Linalool is a terpene alcohol. It too exists in two different chemical forms [13]. (S)-(+)-linalool known as coriandrol. It has the aroma of sweet lavender with a touch of citrus. While (R)-linalool is known as licareol has a woody lavender smell. With it’s multiple commercial applications, the majority of which are based on its pleasant scent (floral, with a touch of spiciness) [14].

At Pell Wall, Linalool is described as having a scent of: [15]

  • fresh
  • floral-woody
  • sweet
  • citrus

Read more on Linalool at: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/linalool/linaloolh.htm