14:41 PM

Beautiful Biotech – Natural and Sustainable Fragrances

Introducing Sensegen Taste, Smell and Beauty


Getting clean on botanical and synthetic fragrances in this editorial. The article discusses harnessing biotechnology to make 100% clean and natural fragrances for the perfumery world. Consumers want it all. Natural, plant-based products. Clean ingredients, meaning without the legacy of animal testing, consumption of petroleum products, and without pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and plastic residues. Low to no environmental impact. See how Sensegen is checking all the boxes and how your brand can adopt a natural position. 


COVER STORY  Jan./Feb 2022 Issue 



Beautiful Biotech – Natural and Sustainable Fragrances 

Introducing Sensegen Taste, Smell, and Beauty – A Division of Blue California


By Katherine Oglesby

Introduction: We Want it All

Fragrance consumers “want it all.” Led by Europe with Asia and North America not too far behind, fragrance consumers look for natural, clean, ethical, and sustainable claims on their products.

Last year, the 2016–2020 global CAGR for natural claims was 42% in fine fragrance, 31% in sun care, and 29% in deodorant.1 Today’s continuous rise of using botanical/herbal products hearkens back to 16th-century European aristocratic practices.

Getting Clean on Botanicals and Synthetics

This trend has a limited lifespan for several reasons.

First, botanical fragrance raw materials are mired to the aromatherapy palette, creating a limited range of offerings compared to modern, synthetic, petroleum-based fragrances.

They are also limited in their technical performance in sillage and long-lastingness on fabrics due to the absence of natural ani- mal materials, which have thankfully fallen out of use for ethical reasons.

Botanicals are rarely “clean” due to the presence of allergens, irritants, and agricultural residues. Furthermore, they hold a heavy environmental footprint due to their use of land and sol- vents for extraction.

Synthetic fragrances were first mainstreamed by Chanel at the turn of the 20th century, the heyday of petroleum-based synthetic chemistry. Since that time, synthetic has been so synonymous with fragrances that accepted synthetic fragrance labeling had become simply “fragrance,” as though there was no difference between natural and synthetic fragrances. Doing so suggests that only synthetic fragrances exist.

Making Sense with Beautiful Biology

As the newest entrant to the business of smells, Sensegen natural fragrances can bring “it all” to today’s brands. We aim to reconcile the inherent conundrum and gap among major 21st century fragrance market needs. The conundrum is this: how can we simultaneously satisfy these three consumer desires with one product?

  • Natural, plant-based products 
  • Clean ingredients, meaning without the legacy of animal testing, consumption of petroleum products, and without pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and plastic residues 
  • Low to no environmental impact New Philosophy and Modern Technology Accomplishing this takes a new philosophy and state-of-the-art technology. At Sensegen, we have nature down to a science. We believe that nature is truly the mother of invention. We see the earth not simply as a resource for raw materials but also as a creator, innovator, originator, instigator, and mastermind. 

An engineer of extraordinary achievements. It is not by accident that nature transforms mere water, soil and sunlight into an array of complex substances staggering in their sophistication and superiority. It is by brilliance, instinct, intelligence, and ingenious design.

We believe that the future of natural and sustainable fragrances lies within biotechnology – whose robustness in plant-based bio- design opens endless avenues of innovation without depleting fields, taking species to extinction, or leaving them to the mercy of the elements.

Biology is the core of everything we do. We use living organisms and enzymes to make our innovative ingredients – just like nature does. You naturally formulate differently when you start with this point of view and feel a deep sense of respect.

At Sensegen, our creative palette is built by biology, fully anchored in biotechnology, and mimics nature and its enzymatic activities. Materials are cleverly re-created to be used more efficiently, using much less water and land and having a near-zero carbon footprint.

Only nature-inspired science can bring solutions to today’s aspiring brands. Brands are looking for fragrances that are not synthetic yet contain familiar scents – like musk. Brands are looking for more natural and sustainable ingredients that still perform like synthetics.

Until now, natural fragrances were limited by the physical combination and re-combination of essential oils and other plant basics. These limitations prevented them from showing the same vibrancy and making the same impact as modern, synthetic fragrances.

New Generation of Natural and Sustainable Fragrances

The artistry of our talented and forward-looking team of per- fumers, empowered by our broad and growing palette of biosynthetic and bio-manufactured natural materials, produces a true step-change innovation in the fragrance industry. Sensegen’s fragrances are constructed in much the same way as today’s high-performance synthetics but made much better because they are natural, sustainable, and clean.

Sensegen’s new generation of natural and sustainable fragrances sits at the nexus of the qualities most desired by consumers and solves the problem for brands, providing the opportunity for consumers to have it all.



Katherine Oglesby is an executive senior scientist and business leader of SensegenTM, the Taste, Smell, and Beauty division at Blue California, the industry’s first forward-integrated biotechnology-based flavor and fragrance business. Kathy has worked in global leadership roles for large international companies covering business development and sustainability for food, flavor, fragrance, and biotechnology companies, including The Coca-Cola Company, Evonik (formerly Degussa), Firmenich, and Amyris.


About Sensegen 

Our creative team is the natural co-creative partner of your fragrant success. We offer an ever-growing true-to-flowers collection of natural accords and decadent gourmands. 

Beyond our citrus, herbal and fruity compositions, our woody and oriental offerings include sustainable sandalwood. 

And our novel, game-changing natural plant-based musk can be ubiquitous, supporting olfactive characters as needed. Our creations are suitable for applications from fine fragrances to beauty, home care, including candles, fabric care, and general home cleaning. ■