Become a fragrance chemist

Illustration: Sonal Goyal | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sonal Goyal
12 July 2020 23:04 IST
Updated: 12 July 2020 23:05 IST

A perfume or fragrance chemist creates perfume compositions and flavouring. It is a challenging profession. An understanding of chemistry is required to work out how different elements react to create the perfect fragrance.

A perfumer must have knowledge about different fragrance ingredients and their smells. He/she must be able to distinguish each of the fragrance ingredients not only alone but in a combination in other smells.


To qualify as a perfumer, he/she must have done a degree in Chemistry. A master’s degree or doctorate will be an added advantage, as your chances of landing a job in a big perfume house is higher. After the degree, you will be required to go through a training period.

A perfumer’s main job is to research and experiment with different types of scents. He/she will have to develop formulas to produce different smells not only in perfumes from automobile air freshers to antiperspirants to cleaning, laundry, and personal-care products.

Most perfume houses have jobs in creative, application, and evaluative departments. In the creative departments, he/she will be involved in the process of developing new fragrances. In the application department, he/she will study the product to understand its performance, constancy, and environmental impact. In the evaluation or testing department, he/she will be involved in analyses, evaluation.

Chemistry is the process of mixing chemical ingredients and analysing the result. It usually takes months, maybe years, to get the right perfume. He/she will be required to work with large supplies of various chemicals and colour additives, testing and re-testing formulas. Once the perfect formal has been identified, then it is documented and used in mass production.

If you have a good nose, memory for fragrance, and can spend hours in a chemistry lab, then this could be the perfect career for you.

Text by Nimi Kurian, Illustrations by Sonal Goyal

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