“I had a passion for fragrances from an early age,” says Yvonne Anekwe Adediji, reflecting on her youth in London. “I used to smell everything.” Her favorite childhood scent: a blend of baby powder and Chanel No. 5 that signaled her mother’s presence and may have inspired Adediji’s career. “Having graduated with a master’s in cosmetic science, I was trying to utilize that love of scent as well. Usually the fragrance and the pharmaceutical industries go hand in hand. That’s how I started.” Today, the Fairleigh Dickinson graduate is chemist/evaluator for Ralph Lauren beauty products at L’OrÃ©al USA.
Creating a fragrance can be complicated, says Adediji. A team of three or more may be required to satisfy a client’s request. For example, a client may want a fragrance that is sweet, citrusy, and appealing to 16-year-olds. Adediji and her team then mock up a brief with the client’s requests and forward it to what’s known as a fragrance house, where roughly 50 versions of the scent are created. Adediji’s’ team will screen out about five. Then, “I’ll literally spray it on myself and my colleagues, and we’ll go around smelling each other,” she says, laughing. If L’OrÃ©al approves it, the fragrance is put into an alcohol or perfume base, or into skincare forms like lotions.
What should you consider when purchasing a scent? Try matching fragrances to the season. Of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules, but these are Adediji’s suggestions:
Winter: floral, citrus, musk, amber, floriental (a floral and oriental blend)
Spring: floral, woody, Fougere (citrus and lavender, with moss, musks, and woods as nuance)
Summer: spicy, oriental, floral, any tropical scent
Fall: amber, spicy
Adediji’s favorite florals are iris and hibiscus. The Nigerian native’s preferred spice fragrances come from resins (gumlike substances from trees): oppoponax, cassis, and frankincense. “Some people find resins very potent, but [they help me] to escape to another place sometimes, like the Tropics. It’s very familiar and comforting.