What is a Fixative in Perfumery?

A fixative is a base ingredient or blend that is utilized in perfumes to help the scent last longer on the skin. The name refers to “fixing” the aroma so it doesn’t dissipate too quickly.  An essential oil in a blend can play the role of a fixative while contributing to the overall scent impression.  Fragrance fixatives can also be safe synthetic materials that enhance both initial impression and increase longevity.

In an alcohol-based format like an EDP or EDT, a fixative material helps lower the evaporation rate of the alcohol which helps to hold the scent for a slower release.

Base notes of a fragrance can actually work as fixatives. Sandalwood, oakmoss, and vanilla bean are base note examples that serve as effective fixatives.

High molecular weight substances like Benzyl Benzoate and Triethyl Citrate are near odorless fixatives used in fine fragrance development as they are FDA approved and sustainable. 

Whether a specialized synthetic material or an aromatic base note is chosen as a fixative, these materials, which ensure the smell of a perfume remains on the skin for a longer time after the initial application, are key to successful perfume development.