Institut de Chimie de Nice collaborates on L'Occitane's new line of cosmetics and perfumes

  • Innovation
  • Research
Published on February 2, 2024 Updated on February 2, 2024

on the December 18, 2023


The "forgotten perfume plants" research project was carried out in partnership by the Institut de Chimie de Nice (Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS), L'Occitane en Provence and the Musée International de la Parfumerie de Grasse and its gardens. It will result in the launch of several fragrance ranges in autumn 2023, available online and in stores.

"The project was to liberate knowledge about these flowers, forgotten in perfumery, but sometimes known in other fields. There was also a philanthropic dimension of opening up and sharing knowledge with the general public. "Anne-Sophie Bouville, PhD student at the Institut de Chimie de Nice, then Active Fragrance Project Manager, L'Occitane

Certain plants, such as rose, jasmine and iris, have been used in perfumery since Antiquity and throughout the ages. Others were used at certain periods and are no longer used today. Sometimes, this disaffection is easily explained by substitution by a synthetic ingredient or by regulatory constraints. But in other cases, the reason may remain unknown.

Yet these forgotten plants could represent a source of innovation for today's and tomorrow's perfumery. It was therefore essential to study these plants, understand the reasons for their oblivion and assess the possibility of reintroducing them as perfumery ingredients.

To identify these forgotten perfume plants and develop innovative cosmetic raw materials, a collaboration between the Institut de Chimie de Nice (ICN,
Université Côte d'Azur/ CNRS), the Musée International de la Parfumerie et ses Jardins (JMIP) and L'Occitane en Provence, was set up in 2015.

A database of 800 perfume plants

Several hundred books were studied, some dating back to antiquity, and numerous experts (anthropologists, archaeologists, botanists, historians, linguists, perfumers, theologians, etc.) were interviewed. Information was gathered on the identity, history, symbolism, uses, smell, medicinal properties and hypotheses on why plants were forgotten.

A database containing more than eight hundred perfume plants has thus been compiled, filtered through a rigorous selection process. Over and above their properties and olfactory potential, they were subjected to strict specifications and studied in the light of L'OCCITANE's industrial and agricultural criteria. Four flowers remained from this initial inventory, three of which have now been brought to life in new fragrances: Mélilot, Noble Epine & Barbotine.

"It's very rare in research to see the concrete outcome of one's work. The strength of this collaboration between the world of research and L'OCCITANE is that it makes academic knowledge tangible and comprehensible to the general public. "Xavier Fernandez, University Professor in Chemistry and Vice-President Innovation, Université Côte d'Azur

This research has led to a patent and three publications (+ two in progress).

Consult the press kit produced by L'Occitane

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