We take scents very seriously here at Humble. And we are, if anything, purists. In our humble opinion, deodorant should only be scented to provide benefits and enjoyment to the user.
Our feeling is that scents should never be used to mask odor or be overwhelming. We believe a scent should work in harmony with your body’s natural chemistry and the other scents you enjoy wearing. It is with this mindset that we carefully craft our wide range of scents from one of nature’s most beautiful gifts: essential oils. We caught up with our scent architect, Audra Rodgers to learn more about how Humble’s captivating, yet subtle scents come into existence.
Q: How do you come up with the scents for Humble Brands products?
A: Inspiration comes from a couple places. Oftentimes, our team makes suggestions or we want to create something that aligns with the season. Other times I’m inspired by the essential oils themselves.
Q: So, tell us more about essential oils. Why does Humble use them as the scents for their products?
A: Essential oils are amazing aromatic compounds that come from plants. There are a variety of processes used to extract the oil, or the plant’s “essence”. Essential oils are highly concentrated and many people use them for their aromatherapeutic qualities. They can also have antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. That’s why we love essential oils for our products. They’re 100% natural and provide wonderful benefits to the user, beyond smelling incredible. Working with essential oils is not an easy or straightforward process, but the result is worth our investment.
Q: You say working with essential oils is not easy. Can you elaborate?
A: Think of essential oils like wine. They’re ever-evolving, even in the bottle, and batches can vary. Essential oils come from plants, so changes in growing seasons can definitely affect the scent profile from crop to crop. For example, our lavender essential oil is made with lavender from a specific field in France. The smaller the farm and the more organic the farming practices, the less soil control there is and thus less control over the lavender that grows. This means the scent will fluctuate from harvest to harvest. When sourcing our essential oils it’s all about finding balance.
Q: How do you create a scent? Take us through the process.
A: Once we have a direction in mind, I start doing research to understand what scents will achieve the smell we have in mind. I have a catalog of several hundred essential oils that I work with in the exploration process. Once I’ve narrowed down a selection, I use scent strips to simulate the blending. I’ll hold a couple together to see how they play with one another. When you first drop an essential oil on the strip and take it in, you only get the top notes. But after some time you get to the heart of the scent, and that’s what lasts! It’s important to take the time to let this evolution happen in order to really gauge the scent that folks will smell throughout the day. It can take anywhere 10-40 trial blends to get it right. With Star Anise, it took 40.
Once I’ve identified the blend, the first test is to mix it with beeswax to see how it changes the scent. I let it air out for 2-5 days to ensure there aren’t any off aromas that show up later. If the blend passes the test, we’ll go ahead and test it with all four of the Original Formula deodorant ingredients. Side note: Because of the different ingredients between the Original and Vegan & Sensitive Skin Formulas, we have to reformulate the essential oils to achieve a matching scent. Once the scent blend passes the ingredients test, we validate it with human testing and additional research. In this phase of the process, we’re looking out for skin irritation and how body chemistry affects the scent. We do extensive research on the safety and benefits of the essential oil blend as well. If all goes well in the final evaluation, we sign off on the new scent and the new packaging is created.
Q: Have essential oils always been used to scent Humble deodorants?
A: Yes. One of the first scents Humble released was Palo Santo & Frankincense. Jeff and his partner, co-founder Jennifer knew they wanted to maintain their 100% natural stance when it came to scenting their products. They decided to play with essential oils to create their very first scent blend. Together, they worked diligently to develop the scent’s profile, finding palo santo to be a lovely compliment to frankincense. To add a hint of sweetness, this blend originally contained vanilla. It was later replaced with Tonka Bean. As Humble has grown, we’ve built on the foundation that Jeff and Jennifer established. There’s a lot of care and diligence that goes into each decision at every step in the process.
Q: What scent are you working on now?
A: Right now, we’re working on something for summer. We’re keeping it under wraps for now, but check back in a couple months.