Exterior view of Grasse Institute of Perfumery
France Grasse Perfumes

Day 3 – Grasse Institute of Perfumery

Posted by ANA.

I woke up at 6:30 am and showered and prepared my breakfast and my school bag with my perfume, mists and oil samples to show the instructor that I was going to meet today.

I went walking to the school, due to not being sure whether I would need a special pass to open the gate at school and park there, so I went walking and my calculations were 40 minutes walk to the school.

I arrived just on time, but did not know where my class was in the building.

I entered what I thought was the main entrance and happened to see a classroom, but it was a completely different class and inquired in English where my class might have been, they just said “beside, probably in the basement”. That was pretty vague and thought it was a complete different building next to this building, but found just residential accommodation and went back to ask again whether someone could guide me. A nice guy came to show me and glad for him to do this, as I would not have any clue where to go.

In the perfume laboratory showing bottles of ingredients
In the perfume laboratory at Grasse Institute of Perfumery.

When I came, the class just started and all my classmates were there.

The Instructor, Elisabeth Proal, is a chemist  who has worked for Givaudan and Chanel (25 years). She also worked in the Research Centre. She does research in active ingredients for cosmetics. Nowadays, she works as a consultant for different companies, she works in EU Legislation. She is teaching about aromateurs for GIP (Grasse Institute of Perfumery).

I learned that the rose from Grasse famous for the perfume production is ‘Rose Centifolia’ (meaning One Hundred petals in Latin). The smell of this rose I experienced yesterday, when visited the growers and gatherers for distillation, is very fresh, has many facets and tonalities in its aroma, it has a very floral aroma and very rosy one too.

Smelling raw materials for making perfumes.
It is all about the nose. Expert perfumers learn to distinguish between thousands of different fragrances.Ana is testing the scents of exotic raw ingrediants.

We learned about the NATURAL RAW MATERIALS:

  • Essential Oils (requires distillation)
  • Concrete (requires extraction. It is solid or a butter like material; the wax that remains from this material when is diluted to produce an absolute; this wax is used in Cosmetics)
  • Absolute (requires extraction and it is the diluted version of Concrete with solvent that at the end of the process evaporates and leaves a viscous liquid solution)

We learned of the Origin of NATURAL RAW MATERIALS:

  • PLANT
  • ANIMAL

METHODS OF EXTRACTION:

  • Combustion using Smoke
  • Distillation
  • Serpentine Distillation (Steam)
  • Extract with Solvent
  • CO2 Extract or also known as ‘Critical Extract’

NATURAL RAW MATERIALS CATEGORIES:

NATURAL AND ISOLATES

ISO 9235 STANDARD FOR AROMATIC RAW MATERIALS

Ana analysing the ingrediants of traditional perfume types.
Ana analyzing the ingredients of traditional perfume types.

What is an Essential Oil and how it is defined by ISO standards?

What is a Concrete and Absolute and the method of Hexane Extraction, that also used to be used Benzene Extraction in the past? Other method of extraction is Isopropanol Extraction. Hexane, Benzene and Isopropanol are Petrol based solvents.

Comparisons of Concrete and Absolute in quantities produced.

Then, we had to smell and study briefly like 30 aromas from citrus, woody, resign (gum), Amber sweet, floral, rose for NATURAL PRODUCTS and a few for ISOLATES.

Making perfumes starting with the base ingredients.
Making perfumes starting with the base ingredients.

There was a discussion about the countries who produce the raw materials and which country production is the best.

Also, information about Producers in Italy, USA, Europe, Grasse, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Morocco.

Regulatory bodies in Europe.

Differences between Lavandin and Lavender.

Ana records the results of her experiments.
Ana records the results of her experiments.

Different roses: Bulgarian Rose, Damascena Rose, Centifolia Rose

Different Jasmines

Different Geraniums

I learned about the Iris flower and bulb or root. The flower is just decorative, not aromatic. What it is aromatic in Iris are the roots. The process takes 6 years to make perfume out of Iris. So you can imagine how expensive can be having a perfume made of Iris.

The best Iris is from Italy. There are other Iris from Morocco, France, China. These are not as good as the Italian one.

A busy studio at Grasse Institute of Perfumery
A busy working space as students all work to create new perfumes.

Vanilla is a Category, but also a Raw Material.

Aside of this class, meeting my classmates has been fascinating and so exciting to meet such intelligent and knowledgeable students. I feel very humbled and privileged to be accepted and share my experience, that is limited, with people who have already worked in the industry or have a bigger business and can afford paying thousands of dollars in raw materials. There are four Americans in my class, two Romanians, and two Australians including myself. People come from all over the world to learn the secrets of Grasse traditional perfume making techniques.

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My name is Ana Elena Sastrias. I lived most of my life in Mexico City, one of the most populated cities in the world. I studied Computer Engineering in 1982. In 1996 moved to Sydney, Australia with my husband and started a new life. I continued working in IT, but I always had a deep inclination to Visual Art since I was a child. So, I always tried to draw and paint in my free time and since 1999 my husband and myself did some Black and White photography. In 2006 I started to change career to be more adapted to Graphic Design and Art and for almost 2 years I rented a studio in St Peters and starting painting and participating in Art Exhibitions and Art Prizes until 2009. Due to the progress of a neuromuscular debilitating disease my husband was suffering, I became his sole carer and could no longer participate easily in Art Exhibitions and work full time. Since 2006 I joined carers NSW and became a Carers Representative. In 2008, I worked for Legal Community Services amongst Women’s Lawyers in a Women’s Environment. This was very different environment compared to my formation being surrounded mostly by Men during my professional career. So, this time I could mix my skills and learnt a lot about Family Law and working for a Feminist Organisation supporting women victims of DV from their partners or family members with referrals, publications, legal advice, Court hearings, Subpoenas.
In 2010 I was awarded NSW Local Carer. In 2011 I worked for Family Relationship Services and Counselling & Therapeutical Services and Education administering the Community Services. It has been since 2011 that my garden in my house started to be significant to me as my late husband could no longer easily go out to see the flowers, so I was photographing flowers and showing them in an iPad to him so he could see the progress and beauty of the roses and other flowers. After the passing of my husband in 2013, I continued collecting petals and using them as decoration until in 2016 I looked into all ways to use rose petals and got motivated to try the world of Perfumery since then.
In 2014, recently widowed, I decided again to take my artistic and cultural interest and focused on Business Administration and Arts Administration. Assisted in the administration of Cultural Community Events in my internship for the Local Government NSW at the Vivid Festival in 2014. It was a full on very interesting experience to see with so many interesting community projects submitted to Councils.
Since the end of 2016 until 2019 that I attended various Body Care and Perfumery courses at Heirloom Body Care, Penrith LGA. The level of these master courses was excellent with good resources.
In 2017, I decided to launch my Etsy shop ‘AESCreationNaturel’ that has been growing very gradually at a conservative but consistent pace.
My first Etsy shop has listed natural handcrafted perfumes with the flexibility of customisation and offering various presentations for the same perfume fragrance according to the client’s budget. This online shop has been operating since then, landing more than 180 online sales and 63 ‘5-stars’ reviews published on the shop with very positive comments. In the same year, I attended a seminar of Business in the Cosmetics Industry at New Directions.
In May 2019 I went to France and attended a Summer Course in Natural Perfumery and Natural Cosmetics at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery, AFSO, PRODAROM in Grasse, France. It was so wonderful and met very exciting women at the class and the teachers were very knowledgeable and I had a great experience.
It is until June 2021, that I am working solely in growing and scaling my business and joined the HERBusiness Network on the 27 August 2021.

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