As hemp (Cannabis Sativa) satisfies both wellness and naturalness criteria, it has become a flagship cosmetic plant and is now added to an increasing number of consumer goods. A study conducted by Symrise in the USA reveals that for 70% of respondents, beyond its medical and recreational properties, hemp is viewed as a natural, modern (37%) plant with health benefits (38%) and a holistic dimension (30%).
A widely accepted, even expected smell
“Today, hemp has a much more positive connotation. Its smell, which was still taboo a few years ago, is now much more acceptable. When a consumer chooses a product based on hemp, the olfactory experience is inherent to the concept,” explains Fabien Calvet, Sustainability Ambassador and Global Haircare, Skincare & Deodorant Category Leader at Symrise.
The study conducted by Symrise showed that for 77% of respondents, it would be definitely acceptable to put forward a cosmetic product with the smell of cannabis. This smell should actually be viewed as natural, which highlights its herbaceous, aromatic, and medicinal qualities, and as being very close to marijuana’s smell.
As close as possible to Nature
To meet this olfactory expectation, Symrise chose to use the capacities of the Vitessence technology. In practice, the idea is to capture the natural smell of a plant or a flower and reproduce it faithfully with a cocktail of molecules composed by the perfumer. “We use it to recreate natural smells which are hard to obtain with other transformative processes, but also for flowers which cannot be extracted, like lily of the valley, or which can be, but in too small quantities. It is really an authentic reproduction of the smell as it is in nature,” explains Fabien Calvet.
The plant or flower is tightly isolated and unveils its volatile notes for half an hour, so they can be captured on a material. This capture is then analyzed by the laboratory to detect the concentration of all molecules. That is when the perfumer reproduces the natural smell with the palette of ingredients at hand.
“Sometimes, the molecules we find are not available in the perfumer’s palette, or they are banned. But the Art of the perfumer consists in finding equivalents,” adds Fabien Calvet.
Whether they are derived from fruit, vegetables, or rare plants, Symrise’s Vitessences help combine synthetic and natural materials, but also – thanks to a cost per kilogramme often lower than the absolute or essential oil – solve countless economic equations.
Symrise eventually recreated a synthetic essence close to the dry plant with a green, balsamic, earthy, herbaceous, and woody olfactory profile. This hemp Vitessence contains neither tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) nor cannabidiol (CBD). And as “most customers who buy products based on hemp want natural products,” Symrise developed a 100% natural version  and a Cosmos-Natural-certified one.
Created by Symrise’s Master Perfumer Dirk Braun, these three hemp Vitessences suit various categories and can be combined with other notes. They can be added to face care, body care, or hair care formulas, but also home products and Fine Fragrances.