Perfume Ingredients: Indole

  • By Jean Peters-Do

Delicate Petals and Their Aromas

Floral essences are found in most elegant and traditional perfumes. Many flowers, like the delicate blossoms on shrubs like elderberry and wildflowers in the meadow, can have a light, fresh scent. Flowers with ephemeral and elusive scents include spring hyacinth, lilac, and lily of the valley in northern latitudes. You might also be familiar with frangipani if you reside in a tropical region. Even dandelions have their own distinctive scent. Most flowers don’t give up their scent for perfume making, and the ones that do are difficult to work with.

Steam distillation, enfleurage, and alcohol and oil tinctures are some of the traditional ways to extract the ingredients for perfume. A flower’s aroma is significantly changed by all but enfleurage. It takes a lot of time and effort to create an enfleurage, but it is still practiced today. The modern art of extracting the most lovely and pure essences has been mastered by today’s producers. Other methods of extracting perfume ingredients include CO2 extraction, solvent extraction, and expression. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of efficiency and quality of the resulting fragrance. Despite the advancements in modern technology, some perfumers still prefer traditional methods to create unique and exceptional scents from raw materials.


Indolic florals have rich, deep scent with heady narcotic potency

Did you know that indole, one of the aroma molecules found in flowers like rose, jasmine, neroli, and tuberose, is also found in feces? In small amounts, like in flowers, we perceive it as being sweet and alluring.

Indole is seductive and appealing. Maybe you’ve experienced the sultry jasmine scent in the tropics, or on a hot, steamy night. I grew up in the Keys, where there were constant ocean breezes, smells of fish and the sea, and sweat. Without the flower’s aroma, the night air smells, at best, like hot, salty air. The mixture is potent and heady when the jasmine is in bloom, though. The scent of jasmine is hypnotic, enhancing and altering the experience of the environment and the many feelings that are evoked.

We want to evoke that kind of elevated experience with perfumes and fragrances, particularly when they are associated with sensuality. Contrary to popular belief, sex is much less about appearance than it is about feelings and smells. Smell and touch are the two most significant senses when it comes to being sensual. Just consider how the skin works: it has sensory and thermal nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles, and apocrine glands, among other smelly organs.

Of course, sensuality is not always about sexuality. The way a mother and child bond by smelling one another and sharing breath is perhaps the highest form of intimacy a human experiences. All forms of intimacy involve touch and smell in some way, and those smells include the entire milieu. From the scent of a loved one’s perfume to the aroma of a home-cooked meal, our sense of smell plays a crucial role in our emotional connections with others. These sensory experiences can evoke powerful memories and emotions, creating lasting bonds between individuals.

SMELL – it’s on the tip of the brain, the forefront of our senses!

Smell is our primary sense. It operates fundamentally at a potent but unconscious level, smacking us square in the face before driving straight for the deeper core of the brain. Even though some people have a limited sense of smell, we are still able to detect thousands of odor molecules unless there has been olfactory damage. Most odors are either subliminal to our awareness or, unless they are particularly strong, we frequently ignore them.

However, smells have a constant impact on how we behave. Because memories and smells are stored together in the brain, sometimes smells make us aware of them because they recall a memory without providing any additional context. Without our conscious knowledge, odors’ subliminal effects influence how we behave. A simple illustration is the instinctive urge to avoid the source that arises when we smell rotting food.

Why do humans enjoy the scent of indole so much, then? Besides being present in flowers and feces, indole is also connected to or is a component of tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin. Does that imply that we can smell serotonin, melatonin, or tryptophan? Perhaps not. Yet there is little question that our biology and neurology have predisposed us to understand and enjoy indole. The proverb “a rose by any other name would smell as good” also applies here. It doesn’t matter how or why we enjoy it, just enjoy! Use natural perfume that contains these exquisite olfactory gems and take a moment to simply “stop and smell the roses” and other wonders.

Amaravati Perfumes with “indole”

Yazmina (jasmine of course). Topaz (Ylang), Onyx (neroli), Damask (rose), Winecup (tuberose), Blue Mist (indole iso), Xesty (roses, chamapaca)

To get the most out of your natural perfume and to enjoy your own scent more deeply, switch to unscented and naturally scented products as much as possible. By doing so, you are not only protecting your own olfactory senses but also those of the people around you. Using natural scents can have a positive impact on the environment, as they are often produced sustainably and without harmful chemicals.


Om. (2017). Indoles as therapeutics of interest in medicinal chemistry Birds eye view.

Golden Champaca Blossom
Golden Champaca
Ylang Ylang

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