Chemically Encr¥pT3d Perfume
Victoria's Secret would seem to be unlikely market leaders but their new perfume Bare is just that. It's the first perfume to contain Cryptosym, a transparent odourless base that protects a perfume from being copied by chemically encrypting its formula.
New perfumes are routinely subjected to chemical analysis by a process known as gcms: gas chromatography - mass spectrometry. A perfume is vapourised and mixed with an inert gas, which then passes down a sticky pipe which is slowly heated. The most volatile molecules stick very little and come out first, and as it gets hotter and hotter, the larger and more inert molecules move along until they come out the end of the pipe - where they are chemically analysed. The user can also sniff the molecules to help to identify them. A skilled operator can interpret the resulting graph of peaks and troughs, and get a good idea of what is in the new juice.
According to Premium Beauty News, Cryptosym contains 'a mixture of specific raw materials', which are capable of 'inducing a wide range of interferences during [gcms]'. Presumably, the molecules of the Cryptosym base affect the volatility of the aromatic molecules and they don't respond to the gcms in the usual way, thus making their 'quantification and identification ... more difficult.' This, it is said, makes the task of recreating the formula more difficult.
Premium Beauty News also says that, according to Symrise, '40% of the raw materials are affected by Cryptosym and 29% of them can be fully encrypted by this technology'. As this is presumably a Symrise captive, we can expect it to appear in the next perfume authored by Aliénor Massenet, head perfumer at Symrise. It will be interesting to see if it has any noticeable effect on a perfume's performance.
Another interesting question is how long will it take perfume pirates, and other perfume houses to find a way around it. According to the Intellectual Property Office of the European Union, 9.6 billion counterfeit perfumes and cosmetics were seized in Europe in 2019, something like 10% of the legitimate market. In the short term at least, Cryptosym looks likely to have an impact on the bootleggers, and their minions who flock to the edges of the Sunday markets of Paris.
With no intellectual property laws to protect their products, bootlegging is a major concern to the industry, and rightly so. But to the aficionado, a bigger issue is the number of mainstream perfumes which are nothing more than a slight variation of the latest success story: the target is a proven seller, and it's easy to make because 90% of the creative work has already been done, and so for the Big Five producers, cloning has been a safe bet. Until now that is, because it looks like Symrise have thrown a spanner in the works with their disruptive technology.
Will it stem the flood of near copies? Or is it a way for Symrise to protect their captive molecules?
By restricting the ability to cut and paste from exisitng works, could it make the perfumer's job harder and slower - and even make perfume more expensive as a result? Or will it just force them to be more creative?
Maybe it won't change a thing. What do you think?