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How to Become a Perfume Designer

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Perfume designers, or perfumers, combine different aromas to create new scents. Perfumers may create fine fragrances, or develop scents used in products such as detergents, foods and candles. Designing a perfume involves more than mixing chemicals together. Perfume design involves knowledge of science, keeping track of fashion trends, marketing and having a very good nose for a particular aroma. Thousands of new fragrances are developed each year, and a perfume designer may work on the development of many different fragrances at the same time. It is a challenging and highly creative job.

Hone your sense of smell through sampling different fragrances. Think about what different scents are in products you use everyday.

Study chemistry. Many perfumers have bachelor's or master's degree in chemistry, biochemistry or organic chemistry. Perfume designers need to understand the chemistry behind different scents and aromas and how to create longer or shorter base notes, how to create a stable product or how to create a scent that lasts longer.

Take a specialist course. The Institut Supérieur International du Parfum (ISIPCA) in Paris offers a master's degree in perfumery. Other schools include the Grasse Institute of Perfumery and the Givaudan perfume school in France, which offers a free three-year course in perfume design, but only admits five students each year. Fashion and design schools, such as the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco also offer courses in perfume design.

Study perfume marketing and business. This will help you to learn what scents are most popular in different areas and products. You also need to understand how to keep track of consumer trends in fashion and in the scent industry.

Work for a perfumer. Most perfumers learn their trade on the job. Many fashion houses have their own fragrance line, but most of the jobs in perfume design are with large companies such as Proctor & Gamble, who use scents in thousands of household products they manufacture. You may need to start your career as an intern or entry-level researcher in the research and development department, and work your way up. You may then be sent for specialized training in perfume design.


Since graduating with a degree in biology, Lisa Magloff has worked in many countries. Accordingly, she specializes in writing about science and travel and has written for publications as diverse as the "Snowmass Sun" and "Caterer Middle East." With numerous published books and newspaper and magazine articles to her credit, Magloff has an eclectic knowledge of everything from cooking to nuclear reactor maintenance.

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