Nerol and geraniol are two chemicals with the formulae of C10H18O and molecular weight of 154,25 grams. They both are classified as monoterpenes, at the same time being alcohols thanks to presence of hydroxyl group -OH at the end of the carbon chain. To be even more precise – nerol and geraniol are almost the same substance. Chemist would say that they’re isomeric forms for each other. To make it more clear for those who don’t have much in common with chemistry I can say that geraniol and nerol are like brothers -they may look similar but they’re not 100% the same.
Nerol is a cis-isomer, which means that CH2OH group and the bigger part of the chain are on the same side of double C=C bond. Geraniol is a trans-isomer so CH2OH group and bigger part of the chain are on the opposite sides of C=C bond. This slight difference changes their smell.
Nerol is the aromachemical that was identified for the first time in neroli essential oil, hence its name. In normal conditions it’s a colourless liquid which makes it easy to use for perfumery purposes. Despite the fact it was found in neroli essential oil nerol doesn’t have the characteristic neroli smell. Instead its scent reminds of fresh sweet roses. Sometimes it can be used as a food flavour. Neroli oil containing nerol is a gentle chemical, it’s not toxic, doesn’t cause irritation or skin-sensitizing.
Around 12% of contemporary perfume creations use neroli oil as one of the main ingredients. Rumour has it that neroli oil is one of the ingredients of Coca-Cola (its recipe is top secret). Nerol and neroli oil have aromatherapeutic properties, they soothe nerves, take away tension and anxiety.
Geraniol occurs in small amounts in geranium, lemon and many other essential oils. It was probably found in geranium for the first time as its name might suggest. Its smell is similar to the smell of roses. It’s often used to imitate taste of many fruits – it’s commonly used in flavouring. Geraniol is a good natural mosquito repellent which at the same time attracts bees. Some amounts of geraniol are being added to cigarettes to improve their flavor. This compound is said to have antioxidating abilities and anti-cancerogenic influence on living organisms.
Geraniol is a weak allergene but it’s often used in high concentrations. Around 9,5% of people can get an allergic reactions from using cosmetics with this substance. Moreover it’s really hard to avoid it since it can be found in all kinds of cosmetic products, even those for children, natural or organic.
Perfume featuring either nerol and geraniol can be (couldn’t find a proof):
- Annick Goutal Neroli
- Le Labo Fleur d’Oranger 27, Neroli 36
- Serge Lutens Fleur de Citronnier
- Chloé Eau de Fleurs Neroli
- Prada Infusion de Fleurs d’Oranger
- Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon
- Jo Malone Iris & Lady Moore
- Atelier Cologne Sous le toit de Paris
- YSL Rive Gauche
- Parfumerie Generale Corps et Ames