Perfume Reviews Blog

Why and how do perfumes get reformulated?

A scent undergoes a reformulation when the ingredients’ types (or intensity) change. Yes, typically for the worse, though perhaps not permanently. This crime with colognes or perfumes has cost us countless perfume legends. Jean Paul Gaultier – Jean Paul Le Mans, Saint Laurent – Yves The Night of the Man. But why would fragrance brands or businesses neuter or cancel their best-selling products?

The fragrance industry has recently seen an increased frequency of perfume reformulations. This is brought about by various circumstances, such as a lack of certain ingredients, expensive ingredients, changes in customer tastes, and new rules restricting the usage of particular chemicals and ingredients.

Reformulations are viewed as a betrayal of the original perfume aroma by some perfume enthusiasts, while others regard them as a means to give old favourite fragrances new life.

Although perfume reformulations can be challenging for both perfume manufacturers and customers, they can also create a new fragrance near enough to the previous composition to allow you to repurchase your favourite scent without noticing any significant differences.

There are four primary causes for this occurrence; they are not all financial.

What exactly is perfume reformulation?

What exactly is perfume reformulation?

The term “perfume reformulation” refers to altering a fragrance’s recipe. This may entail changing the fragrance’s raw ingredient concentration or mix and the processes used to produce the scent.

What effect do they have on the consumers and the fragrance industry?

Perfume reformulations could significantly impact fragrance businesses and consumers. To guarantee that the new fragrant formula maintains the original aroma profile it could cost the brand a lot of money. In addition, it might be expensive and time-consuming to do considerable research and development.

Perfume users may find it challenging to locate their favourite scent, or it may not smell as they recall it, which can be disappointing to the user.

This may result in confusion, dissatisfaction, and losing a devoted client. On the other hand, consumers may explore new scents and experiment with various fragrance profiles thanks to reformulations.

Main reasons why perfume reformulation takes place.


Contrary to popular belief, ‘diluting’ a product to reduce costs is not a frequent justification for reformulation.

According to various perfume experts, this typically happens when a company is bought out, as when Estée Lauder purchased the Tom Ford perfume brand and the scents lost their legendary performance.

Companies like Aramis, Tommy Hilfiger, and, more recently, Creed perfume company (bought out by BlackRock) may benefit significantly from these significant corporate partnerships.

However, once companies start changing a fragrance’s aroma profiles or cancelling it because it contains too many pricey natural ingredients, we, the consumers, suffer.

Ingredient shortages

Nature is a more frequent justification for reformulation or occasionally outright withdrawal. Natural ingredients are what give higher-quality scents their depth and beauty.

Some naturally occurring substances, like “oud wood”, are made infrequently from the rotting wood of an agar tree, and ambergris, a rare occurrence of whale poo washing up on shore, are scarce or on the verge of extinction.

There are occasions when businesses are aware that their commodity supply is not sustainable or that they must protect the environment. Therefore, a synthetic substitute for that ingredient will be used, or the fragrance may be discontinued.

Rules and Guidelines

With organizations like IFRA and the EU regularly upgrading their laws and regulations to ensure that products are allergen-free, the fragrance business is a highly regulated sector of the economy.

This implies that substances necessary for a fragrance may restrict their perfume concentrations or be outright prohibited.

Famous instances are “animal-based” notes like Civet or Castoreum, frequently used in old-school/elite perfumery but thought overly allergic, and oakmoss.

These yearly constraints can be complex for perfumers since they force them to use new components or, in some instances, admit that a fragrance’s captivating smell is lost without a particular element and, you guessed it, stop making it.

Consumer preferences

The development of perfume reformulations can be influenced by various factors, including consumer tastes, cultural trends, and the marketplace’s level of competition. The most recent trends in fragrance or cultural influences may inspire perfumers. They could also perform market research to find fresh chances for product innovation and distinctiveness, as was done for the Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum 2017 reformulation.

It is significant to remember that the development and reformulation of perfumes are the outcomes of intense teamwork. The perfumer will work with a group of professionals, including marketers, researchers, quality control experts, and members of the general public.

Together, they will evaluate the new smell profile to make sure it satisfies the brand’s requirements and expectations while, most crucially, preserving the original formula to the greatest extent possible.

The perfume will typically be terminated when there is a shortage of pure raw materials, and artificial copycat oils cannot substitute or replicate the original aroma.

The benefits and drawbacks of scent reformulation

From the standpoint of perfumers and customers, scent reformulations can have advantages and disadvantages.

From the perfumer’s point of view, reformulating a fragrance enables them to add newly synthesised replacement components without worrying about whether the previously prohibited or limited natural ingredient would be available.

Synthetics can occasionally reproduce natural raw materials perfectly. The Tom Ford brand, which executes this combo the best, is one excellent illustration of this.

With the benefits mentioned above, the biggest drawback for scent designers is the expense of adding new components, which can be considerable if it’s something genuinely novel and may affect the brand’s revenue.

From the consumer’s point of view, there are many different and subjective benefits to reformulated perfumes.

As mentioned above, a fragrance’s life can be extended through reformulation, as with the Dior Perfume, and the aroma itself can be given new life.

However, the drawbacks of reformulated scents from the viewpoint of perfume connoisseurs are likely what drew you to this post in the first place.

They include dissatisfaction with a diluted formula and the effect of the fragrance’s constancy and high price point. These are some typical outcomes when a scent is unavoidably altered.

Final Thought

Not everything is gloom and despair. First, synthetic compounds constantly improve their ability to mimic what we find in nature! In other words, while the toolbox of the perfumer is being constrained in certain respects, it is simultaneously growing in different ways with more secure and naturally renewable raw materials.

Additionally, with the recent acquisition of the Creed brand, we may finally end the infamous batch variation for which the house is renowned.


About Raymond King

Meet Raymond King, South Africa's Foremost Fragrance Expert. Raymond King is a nose and director of ScentForMe Perfume shop. As one of South Africa's leading perfume and fragrance experts.

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