Natural Fragrances are the Scent of Life

Interview with Leo Zängerle

Scents with soul. We use our senses to perceive the world, and the natural fragrances that we inhale strike an especially deep chord within us. Dr. Leo Zängerle, Head of the Weleda Fragrance Competence Centre, explains their holistic appeal.

Coffee, spices, chocolate and our daily facial cream – why do we find some products so appealing?

DR. LEO ZÄNGERLE: Sensations of smells are closely intertwined with memories and emotions, so it stands to reason that evaluating fragrances is always a subjective endeavour. Depending on our experiences with a given fragrance, we associate it with something positive or negative. Our scent preferences can also change, for example, with increasing age or during pregnancy.

“Natural fragrances are more manifold and complex than synthetic substances - they strike a deeper chord within us.”

What exactly is the difference between natural and synthetic fragrances?

LZ: Human beings have an inner affinity for natural fragrances because they share the same roots in living nature. During the course of our lives, we have various experiences with fragrances and associate them, often unconsciously, with memories and emotions.


Synthetic substances can also engender such associations. However, natural fragrances are more manifold and complex, and thanks to our personal affinity with them, they strike a deeper chord within us on an emotional level and have a holistic appeal. Take for instance the alluring fragrance of a loved one, or the uplifting scent of a forest. Natural fragrances are not just dead matter; these substances carry the essentials of the plants in them.

What are the hallmarks of a typical Weleda fragrance in your opinion?

LZ: One of the key characteristics of Weleda perfumery is that we only use high-quality, natural raw materials for our fragrances. The connection to nature and the use of authentic plant fragrances is essential to our work, and is clearly recognisable in all Weleda fragrances because they are not constricted or overlaid by components that do not stem from living nature. It is only possible to develop holistic fragrances if we can assure the naturally pure quality of the essential oils.

“The most advanced analysis device in the world can’t replace the human nose.”

How does Weleda ensure the consistent high quality of its raw materials?

LZ: We go to great lengths to source pure, high-quality raw materials for our fragrances. For example, we work hand-in-hand with the people who cultivate and distil aromatic plants. We help them with issues surrounding sustainable agriculture and the production of high-quality fragrances.


Each individual supplier is evaluated and inspected before we make our first purchase. Key factors affecting quality include the proper maturation of essential oils along with the transport and storage of the raw materials. We then very carefully verify each shipment of incoming goods by testing its quality in our cutting-edge physical and chemical analysis labs. But the most important tools in the manufacture of Weleda natural cosmetics are the noses of our perfumers. These experts review all delivered raw materials to determine which of them should be more closely examined.


After all, the most advanced analysis device in the world can’t replace the human nose.

Dr. Leo Zängerle

Leo  is Head of the Weleda Fragrance Competence Centre. As a chemist, he is fascinated by how scents are created in plants, their composition and their significance for both human beings and nature.

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