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The power of scent: Q&A with our expert perfumer

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a perfumer would be like? We sat down with senior perfumer Soraia Da Costa Silva, who worked her expert magic on our Coéo essential oils and blends. Read on to find out more about the power of scent, what makes an essential oil, and the thoughtful process that goes into creating a Coéo fragrance.

Soraia, tell us what you find most interesting about your job?

What amazes me about my work, and the perfume industry more generally, is that people don’t realise that we perfumers exist. There are perfumers behind the everyday fragrances we all enjoy, not just behind fine fragrances as many people may think. For every single product you own in your home, there’s an expert who created its specific scent. It’s a very unique job - there are probably more astronauts in the world than perfumers.


What exactly is an essential oil?


Essential oils are obtained by the steam distillation of plants. Suppose you have a lavender plant, once it’s been distilled, a lavender essential oil is what you’ll be left with. However, not every plant can be distilled to produce an oil, in which case we can use a different extraction process to isolate the scent, but the finished product won’t be classified as an oil.  

When creating a Coéo scent, what is the ultimate goal?


Our goal for the Coéo fragrances is to truly create a mood-enhancing experience. Whether that’s to lift you up or to create a relaxing ambience, the main aim is always to curate an experience.  

How does a scent work to enhance your mood?


There is a lot of research into the benefits of certain essential oils, whether for their relaxation or uplifting properties. So we use this information, along with consumer insights gathered over our three decades of experience, to create scent-mood maps. These maps essentially show all the possible essential oils and scents spread over a spectrum of different criteria, from how energising or relaxing they are, to whether we have any negative or positive connotations of them. We can then start to use this information to curate our blends based on the overall mood experience we want to create. 

Could you talk us through how you created one of our blends?


Absolutely, let’s take my personal favourite - the Rest blend. For this Coéo blend, I looked through all the possible ingredients available to us that would garner restful properties. After careful research, I determined that by blending jasmine with Turkish rose, we could create the optimal balance required for a restful experience. If you look at jasmine and rose on the scent spectrum, they both lie fairly centrally, which gives us a good indication that they’re able to create the desired mood.

From a fragrance perspective, how do jasmine and rose work together?


Jasmine and rose provide two completely contrasting scents. Jasmine is definitely the more overpowering of the two, so there is more rose in the blend to account for this. Rose is also the more rest-inducing fragrance of the two so it was important that we found the correct scent balance. What’s interesting about this combination is that part of the jasmine’s role is to bring out the best qualities of the rose. On its own, rose can sometimes have a sweet and powdery quality that some people can find jarring. By adding the fuller, well-rounded jasmine scent, we can appreciate the rose notes as they’re meant to be, along with all its clever, rest-inducing properties.


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