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Ah…the age-old question of whether robots truly are better than us humans. It’s really a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” kind of question.

For millennia, perfumery has been an art form, a captivating blend of science and creativity. From the Egyptians infusing themselves with floral essences to the Romans perfecting distillation techniques, fragrance has served as a cultural touchstone.

Each perfume tells a story, a symphony of carefully chosen notes designed to evoke emotions and memories.

But the future of fragrance is taking a turn. In the age of artificial intelligence, a question lingers: can AI ever truly replicate the artistry and expertise of the human nose? Or will these two forces find a way to work in harmony, composing a new symphony of scent?

AI’s Role in Fragrance

For over 70 years, computer scientists have studied whether a robot’s behaviour can become indiscernible from human intelligence.

It’s sparked a plethora of stories and movies about humans versus robots, showing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.

Are we really that surprised that the fragrance industry has embraced a new kind of collaborator that is artificial intelligence?

Related read: 13 Fragrance Trends in 2024: Notes We’ll Be Smelling All Year Round and What to Expect From #PerfumeTok

The Pros of AI for Perfumers and Fragrance Brands


What should we ask next? 🤔 Let us know in the comments! Curious how it actually smells like? Book your workshop with us now to make it yourself! OR even, come on down and ask the Freda’D AI yourself and create your very own scent assisted by AI 🙊🙊 #ai #perfumetiktok #chatgpt #fragrance #aiperfume #perfumetiktok

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AI’s true strength lies in its ability to crunch numbers at lightning speed. Tools like Philyra by Symrise act as a digital apprentice, analysing vast databases of existing perfumes, their ingredients, and even consumer preferences.

Traditionally, fragrance creation involves numerous steps and collaboration among various teams, including perfumers, evaluators, sales, and marketing, to develop scents based on client briefs.

This process can be time-consuming, involving iterations until the client is satisfied. However, the introduction of AI-driven tools aims to streamline this process, making it more efficient and reducing the reliance on human intervention.

can ai replace perfumers

Credit: @fredadparfum/TikTok

For the uninitiated, AI can identify patterns, propose novel ingredient pairings, and formulate them quickly. Imagine a perfumer instantly testing hundreds of potential combinations — AI makes this a reality, accelerating the development of new and exciting fragrances.

“We could have used AI to help us with technical issues, like creating more powerful, stable or commercial fragrances, but from the project’s genesis, Philyra has been designed to be a creativity booster.

Thanks to the algorithm, AI is pushing the limit of creativity by pushing the perfumer out of their comfort zone and away from their daily routine. By adding more of an ingredient, proposing an unconventional accord or twisting the fragrance in an unorthodox way, Philyra helps us to discover and explore new olfactive territories.

It’s a constant back-and-forth between human and computer, to create each new and innovative olfactive profile,” shared Pierre Gueros, Symrise Senior Fine Fragrance Perfumer.

Related read: How to Layer Fragrances for a Lasting, Unique Scent, According to Arabic Perfumers

ai replace perfumers

Credit: Givaudan. Carto: Givaudan Fragrances’ sensory innovation

There are also platforms like Carto by Givaudan, which was spearheaded by Calice Becker, vice president of perfumer at Givaudan, director of Givaudan Perfumery School in Paris, and the nose behind Dior’s J’Adore.

Based on what Calice shared with Allure, the AI-powered tool Carto can produce fragrance samples in an instant and expand the perfumer’s palette to nearly 5,000 ingredients worldwide (surpassing the human capacity of 1,000 to 2,000).

With these complex algorithms, perfumers can formulate fragrances based on their initial concept or explore entirely new ingredient combinations that were previously unthinkable. Not to mention, they’d save tons of time on the development process, from ideation to testing and creation.

Comparable to ChatGPT in fragrance development, Carto can whisk up “quick and dirty” fragrance sketches or ready-to-launch fragrances. The company cited She Was an Anomaly by Etat Libre D’Orange as an example.

Another upside of employing AI in fragrance creation is that wellness is at the forefront of these innovations.

eScent, a wearable tech brand, is using AI to enhance individuals’ mental well-being. By detecting stress levels, their AI-powered device dispenses a customised scent, improving the user’s state of mind.

With AI occupying so much of our fascination, even in the world of perfumery, where does that leave us for the future of perfumes? Can AI really replace perfumers?

Related read: Medi-scents Are the Latest Fragrance Trend That Enhances Your Overall Well-being – Here’s What You Need to Know

The Art of the Human Nose

To really answer these questions is to really scrutinise the essence of what it means to be human.

I remember reading The Creativity Code: How AI is Learning to Write, Paint and Think by Marcus du Sautoy and being incredibly enamoured yet frightened by AI’s capabilities.

AI effortlessly writes and creates art for us, but it can’t quite replace storytelling, adventurous memories, the feeling of excitement and discovery, and that level of complexity, especially when emotions are involved.

The prospect of using AI tools for perfumery is very exciting, as denoted by Carlos Huber, an independent fragrance developer and founder of Arquiste.

He expressed that there is huge potential for a future of very refined, precise perfumery, but AI “will never fully substitute a perfumer or fragrance designer” as “it will always lack the human touch.”

Related read: 15 Tiktok-famous Fragrances That Went Viral for a Good Reason

Invaluable Skill and Expertise

For perfumery, AI is disrupting the traditional methods of fragrance discovery and creation, challenging the established paradigms in the industry.

Perfume creation has been the domain of skilled human perfumers like Anne Flipo (responsible for Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle and YSL’s Libre), Dominique Ropion (responsible for Frédéric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady and Paco Rabanne’s Invictus), and Rodrigo Flores-Roux (responsible for Clinique’s Happy and Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino) — all known for crafting iconic scents.

These experts rely on their mastery of ingredients, composition, and sense of smell to create unique fragrances.

Master perfumers have had years of experience honing their sense of smell; their trained nose can distinguish how notes interact in reality.

They can identify imbalances, adjust ratios, discern the subtlest nuances between notes, and ultimately refine the fragrance into a cohesive and emotionally resonant whole.

Now, AI and robots don’t quite have reputable noses or the ability to smell, do they?

Lack of Emotive Layers

Even with AI’s impressive capabilities of generating interesting formulas or proposing intriguing possibilities, the human nose remains irreplaceable in the art of perfumery.

Albeit its benefits and superior productiveness, AI isn’t without its limitations or challenges.

Sure, it can help analyse data on scent profiles but it can’t replicate the nuanced understanding of how these scents interact and evoke emotions in wearers.

After all, perfumers are literally famous for their unmatched ability to translate emotions and ideas into olfactory experiences.

ai perfume

REPLICA by Maison Margiela. This collection lets you relive personal memories through scents.

This artistry goes beyond simply combining scents; it’s about capturing a feeling, a memory, or a specific mood in a bottle.

So, yes, AI does serve as a powerful tool to spark creativity and broaden possibilities, but the human perfumer remains the artist who breathes life, emotion, and artistry into the final scent.

Related read: Relive Your Childhood Memories With White Rabbit Candy Perfume, Hand Cream, and Lip Balm!

Consumer Perspectives and What People Are Saying


Would you wear a fragrance that AI made you? 🤔 It’s located inside @The Fragrance Shop #fragrancetiktok #thingstodoinlondon #aiperfume #thefragranceshop

♬ original sound – Tina Prokas

AI has certainly been accepted rather wholeheartedly in the skincare and makeup worlds. We see personalised skincare and robots that can find your perfect foundation shade.

Where does AI come into play in the world of perfume?

The consumer perspective on AI-designed fragrances is still evolving. Some might be intrigued by the idea of a fragrance tailored to their specific preferences, thanks to AI’s data analysis capabilities.

Imagine a perfume that perfectly captures your ideal “summer day” scent or complements your unique body chemistry!

Amplify, Rather Than Replace

The future of AI in perfumery hinges on transparency and educating consumers.

Recognising AI’s role in boosting creativity, not replacing it, is crucial for building trust with consumers and unlocking the potential of AI-driven fragrances. However, the concept of a purely AI-designed scent might raise questions for some.

Fragrance is often tied to personal experiences and emotions so there might be a hesitancy towards scents created entirely by algorithms that lack the human touch and the stories behind traditionally crafted perfumes.

According to Maison 21G founder Johanna Monange in Fashion Magazine, it’s crucial to strike a balance between technology and human creativity.

“AI should amplify the creative process rather than replace it. There’s a risk of homogenisation if AI algorithms are used excessively, which could result in a loss of diversity and uniqueness in fragrances,” said Johanna.

Meanwhile, Ashley Boyce, co-founder of Noteworthy, noted: “Ultimately, all these AI tools are being used to raise the bar when it comes to the perfume experience and better meet customers’ expectations. But it’s up to each individual to choose a fragrance they love and that works for them and their body chemistry; this is something that AI really can’t replace — it can only complement the experience.”

Additionally, with the growing emphasis on natural ingredients in beauty products, some consumers might prioritise “natural” scents over those potentially formulated with AI-discovered synthetic ingredients.

Related read: 12 Fragrance Boutiques in Singapore That Are Worth Visiting, Including One With Barber Services!

More AI-powered Perfumers?

can ai replace perfumers

Credit: Google Research Blog

In late 2022, AI expert Niko Groeneweg (Hiringly.ai and La French Tech) took to LinkedIn to share his thoughts on the rise of AI-powered perfumers and “how AI will eat the perfume industry”.

He elaborated that much of the work perfumers do in the lab (trying out new combinations of molecules and creating new fragrance profiles) could be enhanced by tools like Google’s Odor Map.

Major fragrance composition companies like Givaudan recognise the importance of innovation in their field and have invested in AI-driven tools to enhance the creative process for perfumers.

These tools, although beneficial for improving results and providing a competitive edge, rely on proprietary technology and datasets, making them costly to develop. As a result, they pose a barrier to entry for new companies seeking to enter the market and compete effectively.

However, Niko stated that “AI technologies like Google’s Odor Map do the exact opposite: they lower the barrier of entry for the perfume industry.”.

“While today only the most profitable composition houses can afford to be AI-driven, tomorrow any company – even a tiny startup – will be able to enhance their creation process with the latest AI breakthroughs.”

Niko does not doubt that Google’s Odor Map heralds the coming of a generation of AI-powered perfumers and imagines a world where AI will allow us to generate fragrances the same way it already allows artists to generate art — by simply telling the computer what they want!

AI and the Future of Fragrances: Friend or Foe?

So, where do you stand in this debate — with technological advancements or one of our own talents?

With the progression of AI in various aspects of our lives, it’s expected to have a greater impact on scent development and could even influence the success of a fragrance.

However, creating scents is a very personal and subjective process. While AI can assist in the process, crafting truly unique and groundbreaking fragrances still requires a human touch that technology may not be able to fully replicate.

The debate on AI versus human perfumers is far from settled. In fact, I have to say, the general result or consensus is almost always the same.

The future of fragrance lies not in a battle between human and machines but in a beautiful symphony of their combined strengths.

can ai replace perfumers

Credit: @tinaprokas/TikTok

AI’s analytical prowess can unlock endless possibilities for novel combinations and accelerated development but it’s unable to offer a human perfumer’s power to craft olfactory masterpieces doused in actual emotions.

Perhaps the future lies not in a battle for dominance but in a beautiful collaboration. AI can spark boundless creativity, while human artistry ensures emotional resonance.

The possibilities are endless, and the future of fragrance, fueled by the combined power of human and artificial intelligence, promises to be a truly fragrant one.

Related read: 15 “Gen Z Fragrances” That Are Ranked Best and Translates to a Chaotic, Nonconformist You

Featured image credit: @tinaprokas/TikTok, Givaudan