What Is the Most Expensive Ingredient in a Perfume?

Jul. 03, 2021

Not all perfumes are created equal. Some are musky, some are floral. Some are fashionable, while others are meant to be classics to become famous over the years. But one of the biggest dividers remains the price. Some are for commercial use, while others cost an entire estate. Next, the perfume raw material supplier will share some of the most expensive natural ingredients ever found in perfume.

Benzaldehyde can be used as a special top fragrance, and it can be used in trace amounts in floral formulas, such as lilac, white orchid, jasmine, violet, acacia, sunflower, sweet bean flower, plum flower, orange flower, etc.

The high price of going natural

Fact: Natural ingredients are the most expensive. Natural ingredients are the most expensive because they are any of three: 1) rare, 2) hard to obtain, and/or, 3) heavily regulated. Due to the depletion of their natural sources, items like natural ebony oil are very rare. The same is true of off-season ingredients like Ylang Ylang from Madagascar. Other coveted ingredients, such as Iris butter and ambergris, are difficult to extract and collect.

Still, others are so expensive because of the strictly regulated ingredients. Naturally, aged sandalwood is a highly regulated substance in India, thus adding to the cost of Clive Christian's current most expensive perfume in the world.

It is this high cost that has forced some designers to either lower their focus or replace rare natural ingredients with synthetic ones altogether. Another fact: some synthetic ingredients can also be very expensive. Ultimately, it is still the dynamics of supply and demand that determine the price of ingredients, natural or not.


The most expensive perfume ingredients

Having said that, natural perfume ingredients are still indisputably more expensive in the long run. Based on a fairly extensive review of the internet literature, the following are considered to be the most expensive.


Depending on where it is traded, the infamous sperm whale excrement can cost perfumers between A$11,000 - A$66,000 per kilo. The wide range is determined by the initial pricing of the supplier, who may or may not buy in bulk. Ambergris is valuable because it is heavy (so it presses against the skin) and lipophilic (meaning, the scent molecules stick together).

Wood mold

Also known as Agarwood, the oil of Wood Mildew (sometimes, Oud) is derived from the resinous source of the evergreen trees of Mold Exodia. the depletion of Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees has led to the rarity of the oil, which now ranges from A$38,000 - A$56,000 per kilo.

Iris or Iris root butter

The price range for this ingredient is A$38,000 - A$53,000 per kilo, thanks to the hard work that goes into producing it: the root ("rhizome") of the purple iris flower is dried for 3 years, then crushed into a powder and steam distilled. All that back pain for a very low yield.

Other top ingredients include sandalwood oil, Tahitian vanilla, and true musk from musk pods - the price range of which has not been published but is widely considered to be the most expensive.

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