What is a Fragrance?
A fragrance has the quality of possessing a sweet and pleasant odour. Perfumes, oils and incenses typically have that same quality.
You may well ask - what is the difference between a fragrance, a perfume, and a scent. Essentially they mean the same thing. In US the term fragrance is most common, in UK scent is in common use, and in France it is Parfum. In Australia all terms are commonly used but perfume is predominant.
The fragrance industry tends to refer to the most concentrated form of a scent as a perfume or parfum, while referring to less concentrated scents as eau de toilette or cologne. Perfumers use the word perfume to describe their fragrant creations.
History of Perfume
Perfume or Parfum is a combination of aromatic essential oils, or other aromatic compounds and solvents that when applied to the skin, release sweet and pleasant odours.
Archaeologists have found that as far back as 2000 BC a very large perfume factory covering 4000 square metres of floor space operated in Cyprus.
We also know that Egypt and Mesopotamia progressed the art of perfumery, as did the Romans and the Persians over a later period.
Introduced to Western Europe in the 1200’s, perfumery developed and flourished in Italy and France over the following centuries, culminating in the 21st Century with the latter two countries still being dominant nations in the world of perfumes.
Types of perfumes
In terms of an ascending scale of concentrations of aromatic compounds, the types of perfumes you can buy are:
- Splash and Aftershave 1-3%
- Perfume mist 3-8%
- Eau de Cologne 3-8%
- Eau de Toilette 5-15%
- Eau de Parfum 10-20%
- Esprit de Parfum 5-30%
Men’s perfumes tend to be from Splash and Aftershave up to the Eau de Toilette range, while women’s fragrances tend to be spread across the higher ranges of concentrations. In the latter case this is achieved by using relatively less solvent or neutral smelling oils to dilute the aromatic mixture.
Applying perfume to the skin
In Western culture, the conventional skin areas to which perfumes are applied are the ‘pulse points’ so as to cause the perfume to be warmed.
Typical pulse points are behind the ears, the neck and the inside of wrists, elbows and knees.
The perfume connoisseur would know that different intensities of a perfume category or type are applied at different times of the day:
- lower concentrations in the morning, such as shower gel and body lotion,
- eau de toilette would be appropriate for midday and afternoon, and
- higher concentration fragrances for the evening are applied to the pulse points. These may last for up to five hours.
All perfumes have what is called three ‘notes’, namely base, middle and top. The ‘notes’ gradually emerge one after the other reaching the rich ‘note’ of the base in the last phase of the sequence of notes.
The ‘feel’ of the perfume
A walk in the park is a favourite pastime for young and old. It brings with it many new experiences including enjoyment and relaxation. The aromas that go with the experience can be exhilarating and in fact equally rejuvenating.
Likewise, the pleasure and enjoyment of using a quality perfume of your choice can be most satisfying not just only to you, but to those around you.
The Fragrance Chart
The idea of arranging perfume odours into some kind of ‘aroma’ pattern was invented in 1983. The intitial version was called the Fragrance Circle.
The original Perfume classification system has been gradually refined so that by 2010 we arrived at third version of the Perfume Chart (2010).
The Chart has four main categories (or families) and each family is divided into sub-categories of aromas.
- Floral Soft
- Soft Floral
- Floral Oriental
- Soft Oriental
- Woody Oriental
- Mossy Woods
- Dry Woods
Perfume enthusiasts, such as you, are now able to use the Chart to pick the perfume that most pleases them. The first step is to find a particular family of perfumes that suits you and then to proceed on from that stage to pinpoint the sub-category that best meets your needs – making your final choice ‘just right for you’.
We wish you the very best as you embark on your venture
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Jan & Dean