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All About Fragrance


Fragrance, you can feel it in the air. You know something stirs but you can’t really put a finger on it. A presence hovers and lingers about or maybe you are just imagining things! It’s probably all in your head or something in the drink. A fragrance does no talking but it screams out pure bliss to your senses. May be it is that French guy that stole a look at you as he entered or perhaps it is that Mexican singer at the party that is going around spreading her pheromones. It can be anything; it is the pale yet distinct aroma of cinnamon that does it for me and nothing makes me feel more at home. But that is just my memories talking. I have my heart set on Black Saffron these days but my favorites keep on changing. There has to be a best perfume that you are into, an aroma that means you; a fragrance that tells people of your arrival.

What is Fragrance?

If one talks about fragrances or perfumes, they go back to the ancient Chinese and Egyptians that made use of scented oils and extracts from flowers or spices to make these exotic smelling concoctions. From the gum and sap of hard to reach trees to the oils and liquids tapped from rare plants; everything made for a distinct aroma. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the perfume industry as we know it today became apparent. Aromatic liquids that were being produced in small bottles at home were now being manufactured in larger batches with advancements in chemistry. A fragrance is a smell often characterized by pleasant molecules that sweetly effervesce in the air and travel deep up in our minds to elevate our mood. The bitter sweet presence of coffee is its fragrance and the cool and sweet feeling that a rose gives off is its fragrance.

The Fragrances That We Happen To Have Fallen In Love With Today Have A Mesmerizing Lineage And A Phenomenal History!

Where does the word come from?

The word, “perfume” is derived from the Latin word, “perfumare,” which means "to smoke through".

What is Perfumery and where did it begin?

The art of making perfumes is called Perfumery which is believed to have begun in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Later refined by the Romans and Persians, it has also been mentioned in one of the earliest Hindu Ayurvedic texts, Charaka Samhita and Sushutra Samhita.

When and by whom was the first perfume created?

Well, if studies are to be heeded, the first recorded perfume chemist was a Mesopotamian woman named Tapputi who introduced the world to the art of perfume making through distilling flowers, oil and calamus with certain other aromatics. Experts also believe that perfume and perfumery existed as early as 3300 BC in the Indus valley civilization in India.

Where does the origin of perfumes lie?

It was the year 2004 to 2005 when archaeologists discovered in Pyrgos and Cyprus what many argue to be the world's oldest surviving perfumes that date back to more than 4000 years. Ancient perfumeries existed that made use of stills, mixing bowls and funnels and bottles to extract scents from flowers like jasmine, herbs like coriander, myrtle, bergamot and nuts like almonds and the like.

In the 9th century an Arab chemist named Al-Kindi wrote the Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations. It has more than 100 recipes for formulating fragrant oils, salves and aromatic waters. Similarly a Persian chemist Ibn Sina used to extract oils from flowers through distillation.


Fragrance and royalty, how are they connected?

European royal families were not new to the art of perfumery either. It existed there since as early as 1221. In the year 1370 at the behest of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary scented oils and alcohol solutions were combined to produce the famous Hungary Water.

This fragrant art prospered in Renaissance Italy and the then personal perfumer to Catherine de’ Medici, Rene the Florentine took it to France. Today this country is among the leading European centers that manufacture perfume and cosmetics. South of France became a major region for cultivation of flowers for their essence in the 14th century. What is known today as the eau de cologne was first formulated in 1693 by an Italian barber Giovanni Paolo Feminis. Its original name was Aqua Admirabilis. It was in the 17th century that Europeans discovered that fragrances could heal. Doctors would mask themselves with leather pouches containing pungent spices such as cloves and cinnamon to prevent them from falling prey to infection from plague victims.

Is the legend of the “Perfume King” true?

Yes, King Louis XIV of France used perfume so extensively that he came to be known as the "perfume king." He would have his court contain a floral pavilion filled with fragrances. His palace would have bowls of dried flowers throughout to freshen the air and his royal guests bathed in goat's milk mixed with rose petals. Perfume was sprayed on visitors’ clothing, furniture, walls and some were even doused with a fragrant liquid. Grasse region in France and the Italian regions of Sicily and Calabria came to be known for growing aromatic plants by the 18th century. They provided raw materials to the growing perfume industry.


When and by whom were perfumes synthesized for the first time?

As the obsession over fragrances intensified in Europe, England started containing aromatics in lockets and hollow heads of canes that were later sniffed by the owner. The late 1800s saw the use of synthetic chemicals to mass market perfumes for the first time. Nitrobenzene; the first chemical perfume was made from nitric acid & benzene. This synthetic mixture was used to scent soaps as it gave off an almond smell. It was the year 1868 when William Perkin, an Englishman synthesized Coumarin, a fragrance that smelled like freshly sown hay from the South American tonka bean.

Synthetic violet and vanilla were formulated by Ferdinand Tiemann of the University of Berlin. Meanwhile Francis Despard Dodge was working in the United States to create Citronellol. He experimented with citronella, derived from citronella oil with a lemon-like odor. The result was a perfume that imitated the scent of rose. This synthetic compound resembles the aroma of sweet pea, narcissus, lily of the valley and hyacinth in different variations.

How did our ancestors contain and store perfumes?

Interesting question and what evolved with these perfumes were their bottles. They were all the more interesting too and often were as gorgeous, exotic and elaborate as the fragrant oils they contained. The earliest crafted perfume bottles are believed to be as old as 1000 B.C. People in ancient Egypt used glass bottles largely to hold perfumes. The art of crafting of perfume bottles came to Europe and was practiced most extensively in Venice in the 18th century. Here glass containers assumed incredible shapes of small animals and some even sported rustic landscapes. Today our perfume bottles are designed mostly by manufacturers and highly reflect the nature of the fragrance inside.

Till today France and Italy remain the center of the European perfume design & trade. What started as a way to mask body odor of the wealthy and unbathing between the 16th and 17th centuries gave way to a highly developed perfume industry of the modern day.

Évolution de Parfum – Fragrance We Inherited

Why were fragrances so desirable in ancient times?

Fragrances were extracted from hard to catch animals and rare plants, woods, herbs and spices especially from the Middle East and lands Far East. This made them even more valuable and precious and that is one big reason why people offered them to gods, tyrants and emperors.

How did we stumble upon them when they were far off in the East?

We at Perfumora.com like to call it Crusade for Fragrance. Religious wars (1100-1300) that were seen as a way to get rid the Holy Land from Muslim control became a route for their discovery. Many spices and bath ointments reached the European nations through these paths. Venice and Naples were the two spots that for the next 200 years witnessed the bloom of the perfume industry. Plants like jasmine, tuberose, cloves from India and Persia found suitable climate in this country. The demand for unusual scents and fragrant extracts ran wild.

Who found out about distillation of perfumes first?

It was in the 1400s that the Arabs found out that distillation could concentrate fragrant essences and make them portable and less perishable.

What is The Hungarian Age?

Now that fragrances had gone the French way it was the 1600s that saw the dawn of the Hungarian water. A stable perfume of its kind was made by combining a rosemary extract with distilled alcohol.


What is Cologne?

It was the year 1792 and the German city of Cologne became the birth place of the world’s very first, well Cologne. It was formulated by stabilizing crisp citrus fragrance with alcohol and there was no turning back.

What Led To the Perfumes of the Present?

It was a fragrance created from moss and spices by Rene Coty that ascended to become an entire category of fragrances in 1917. Followed by that were Aldehydes which were the first aroma chemicals and unlike anything anybody had created. Coco Chanel endorsed this clean and ozone like fragrance and introduced the world to a true modern perfume.

The year 1925 saw the advent of the Shalimar which was an oriental aroma with sensuous, rich and provocative notes. Followed by this was the Vent Vert and L’Air du Temps in 1945, the instigators of fresh, light and natural scents.

What were designers doing with perfumes?

The 50s saw the arrival of Youth Dew, the first concentrated perfume oil and what came later in the 70s was a war of scents. Names like Bill Bass, Halston, Gucci and Pierre Cardin were the warriors that set foot in the aroma arena. They still continue to come up with new and enchanting fragrances for its customers all over the world.

What the 80s saw was the rise of the power fragrances like Giorgio, Poison, and Obsession and the following decade on the other hand was a transition to the fresh, fruity and complex. This was a note that was meant to echo for the longest period of time.

How are the fragrances of the new millennium different?

The new age demands a new kind of fragrance for every occasion. Modern technology never fails to deliver aromas that entice your very being and change with every passing hour. Today our perfumes last all day with ingredients that improve our mood. You can either seek calmness in a bottle or perhaps a little chaos in a spirit. Not only this but the 21st century is marked by the discovery of concoctions that heal, comfort and linger.

Selecting the Right Scent

Fragrances have evolved over millennia and still continue to captivate and confuse us. This is what makes shopping for the right perfume overwhelming, especially with an ocean of options. Your aroma is what lingers in the room even after you have long retired for the night. For those who have a signature scent to their specific style, making their presence felt comes naturally. Those who are still clueless as to what perfume to wear for the night here is how it should go.


What is fragrance Concentration?

Tricky is another word for the percentage of aromatic compounds contained in the solvents, wouldn’t you agree? Adding further to the dilemma are the companies that follow different guidelines. Fragrance concentration is simply how strong or light a perfume is. It is the sheer strength that a fragrance hits you with. Higher the concentration of perfume oils, lesser the alcohol content and it is generally the same for every perfume, well mostly.

What is the Purest Form of Perfume?

Parfum is the purest form of perfume and it is also known as extrait de parfum or pure perfume. Apparently it has the highest fragrance concentration anywhere from 15% to 40%. However in practicality it is 20% to 30% and they claim to last the longest which is usually 6 to 8 hours. That justifies their price tag which is again the highest among all fragrance types. If you have sensitive skin, this may be better for you as they have the least percentage of alcohol. Like other fragrance types they don’t dry out your skin that much.

What are the different concentrations of fragrances that we can choose from?

Secret de Parfum is a variant that has a concentration similar to that of the Eau de Parfum but with a greasy and opaque tonality that differs from the better facets of the original perfume.

Esprit de Parfum though seldom used contains almost 30% aromatic compounds. Most famous in the 80s, this type was dropped widely in favor of Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette which were a standard in the 90s.

Eau de Parfum (EDP) ranks right next to the parfums in terms of concentration of fragrance. They generally have a concentration of 15% to 20% and last for 4 to 5 hours. Therefore these are a less expensive option than parfum and still very suitable for everyday wear on sensitive skin.

Eau de Toilette is French for “getting ready” and goes down further still when it comes to concentration making the exquisite ritual of putting on your best self at display for any occasion more delightful. An EDT has it between 5% and 15%. It is one of the most popular types of fragrances and quite suitable for every pocket. They normally last for 2 to 3 hours and are ideal for daywear.

Mist or Brume de Parfum or Eau Sans Alcohol is the lightest form of fragrance. It is inherently feminine by nature and contains aromatic compounds ranging between 3 to 8% and the solvent is typically non alcoholic.

Eau de Cologne or EDC or Cologne goes even lower on concentration which is a mere 2% to 5%. It is much lighter on your pocket and lasts for up to 2 hours. With a bigger bottle that requires more fragrance to be used its origin lies in a traditional recipe of herb and citrus notes with minimal base notes. Every fragrance is derived from the extrait de parfum but is diluted to make variations except this type.

The Subtle Notes of Eau Fraiche are somewhat similar to those of an eau de cologne. It too lasts for up to 2 hours and has an even lower concentration of fragrance which is 1% to 3%. Surprisingly it does not contain high alcohol content rather mostly water.

Cologne of today denotes a more masculine fragrance and it is an American way of describing perfume with the intent of portraying a manlier image. They have become quite synonymous with after shaves; which brings us to the after shaves of the non lotion category that contain about 1 to 3% aromatic ingredients.

Eau Généreuse or Eau d' Abondance is a modern day term and denotes the huge bottles from which the liquid is meant to be splashed generously. The concentration is similar to that of Eau de Toilette.

Is Perfumery a Science?

Yes, it is an exact science and throwing all the ingredients into a hot stewing pot to funnel out a perfume is not the way how it is done. It takes a lifetime of study and practice aimed at perfecting this scientific art of layering one note on the other for that blissful scent.


So what can be the ingredients for a perfume?

Well, the ingredients can be natural - flowers, grasses, spices, fruits and what not or they can be animal secretions and charred wood, or synthetically designed scents, have you begun to wonder yet? Alcohol and sometimes water is used to dilute these ingredients; which also determines their concentration and category.

What are the different types of notes in fragrance?

Citrusy and Fresh

These are the notes that make you feel fresh and almost light headed for a moment. They are responsible for almost all the top notes that define the spectrum of hesperidic fruits. Greek mythology’s nymph Hesperidia was the inspiration behind the name and these are fruits or raw materials that also include verbena and lemongrass. These and resins are among the most ancient ingredients in perfumery. To preserve the inherent freshness of the extract, citrus essences are mostly cold-expressed with Petitgrain being an exception, as it is derived through steam distillation of leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree.

Citruses provide an effervescent quality to fragrances, clear your mind and make you feel sunny and buoyant. They lend sharpness to your air, add elegance and cleanliness to your aura. The fresh and tart Citrus notes compliment the sweet floral and resinous notes and also lend a good tartness to other sugary notes. The modern day sources of these scents are Grapefruit, Pomelo, Yuzu and Hassaku.


Fruit and Nut

Fruity notes have become a separate category of their own due to their rising popularity. The high content of water in fruits makes them resistant to distillation and extraction processes. Their natural make-up being such keeps them as a reconstructed note in fragrances. Fruits give a succulent note and a musty yet mysterious characteristic to the perfume. They provide a shaded texture and a refreshing feel to your fragrances. Fruits such as plum and peach have become extremely popular along with apple and kiwi. They act as bases for many fragrances lending a sweet freshness with a hidden layer to the perfume.

Though reconstructed notes in perfumery, Nuts too can act as a base for ethereal fragrances like Vetiver. They have become almost synonymous with almond (recreated with the materials used for heliotrope and mimosa reconstructions). Peanuts (as in Bois Farine), Hazelnuts (as in Praline de Santal & Mechant Loup) are beautiful anchors to earthy materials and give a grounded wholesomeness to your perfume.



The Colored Ones…

What could be more obvious than the candid yet soft conveyors of fragrance? Blossoming flowers have been a source of perfumes for ages and continue to be so still. They never cease to fascinate us and Rose and Jasmine are the most popularly used scents that are found in almost every flowery perfume. Their incomparable essences can be extracted through many different techniques such as Solvent Extraction, Enfleurage and Distillation. Broom, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose, Osmanthus and Marigold are some other popular natural flower extracts.

Floral scents are lush, divine and romantic by nature. They offer femininity to a composition and believe it or not, they enter almost all perfume blends in one form or another; yes, even in your masculine colognes. There are many flowers yet that refuse to yield their scent and core aroma. Even if some is extracted, the quantity is so miniscule that replicating them in a lab seems more practical. Essences from flowers such as Violet, Lotus and Water Lily can be derived but the tiny yield can only be afforded by niche and all-natural brands in the perfumery business.

Let There Be White…

White flowers like Orange Blossom, Gardenia, Jasmine, Tuberose, Frangipani and even Honeysuckle are the true messengers of sweet headiness and nectarous femininity. White florals give off a lush, intoxicating and opulent scent that is often characterized as narcotic.


Leaves, Herbs and Grass

Life couldn’t get any tangier than this. The "green" that is eminent here refers to notes of freshly snapped leaves and newly-cut grass. Greens, grasses and leaves exude a quality that pierces through layers of scents and reminds us of the spring season. Modern synthetics have rendered scents like Fig Leaf, Violet Leaf, and Tomato Leaf and Coconut sweetness. These notes give off an aqueous and cucumbery feel to a lot of perfume compositions, especially the masculine ones. A unique scent profile can be added to blends by using tea leaves and the perfumer may pick anyone from white, green, red, black or Oolong.

Herbs on the other hand add aromatic notes that are similar to the smells lingering in our kitchens. So it can be Thyme, Rosemary, Fresh Coriander, Mint, Tarragon, Fennel, Marjoram, Basil, Anise or Sage. Other herbs such as Artemisia, Angelica and Spikenard possess a strong herbaceous quality that adds a distinctive character to every composition.

Fern is fougère in French. It is not exactly derived from nature but from an age old unity of Lavender-Oakmoss-Coumarin. This was formulated to replicate the mysterious note of a cool, green, damp forest. Its prototype is Fougère Royale by Houbigant which was created by Paul Parquet in 1882. The result was a bittersweet concoction that had a damp and woody character and a cool feel which was recognized as being quintessentially masculine.


The Aroma of Spices

Spices can really spice up your life and this is no subject that requires any introduction. The sheer mention of their names is enough to make us realize just how hot and short they can be and yet they can also add a long and cool effect to the overall perfume blend. Cinnamon, Pepper, Dried Coriander, Cloves and Ginger and the precious hand-picked Saffron are some scents with a short fuse. Tamarind, Caraway Seeds and the very gentle Pink Pepper accompany them in their club.

Although true spices are always dried, but herbs such as Oregano, both fresh and dry have a rather distinct tang to them. This brings us to the cooler and gentler spices that have a prolonged aftertaste such as Cardamom, Fresh Coriander and Thyme.


The Succulent Sweets

This is reminiscent of the sweet, cute little Strawberry Cupcake that you were served at the conference meet today. It just sat there smelling like your sweet couch, not literally though. These are the fragrances that comfort you and are largely built on Vanilla. Now Vanilla is a creamy, dreamy, fluid and melting goodness that everyone can relate to. This is what sweets and desserts are meant to do; right from the Bitter Sweet Chocolate to the fresh dollop of Caramel-Studded Cream. From the simple and plain to the rich and complex; from the Macaroons to the Crème Brule and the Custards and so much more; the succulent sweets speak to everyone.

These are also known as Gourmand Fragrances. The first successful Gourmand Fragrance was formulated in 1992 by a well known perfume brand. It had a Choco-Caramel effect that was the result of blending Ethyl Maltol (Cotton Candy/Sugar Caramel), Natural Patchouli (for Cocoa) and industry standard Ethyl Vanillin. That was the year that marked the arrival of dessert smells in contemporary perfumery.

Although possible to derive from natural ingredients, the best results are obtained by the intermingling of natural with synthetic notes. These notes are not limited to feminine or women's fragrances but have also found an important spot among masculine or shared scents. They make you euphoric and playful, and the tingling sensations on your tongue and nose just add to the charm.


The Wooden Wonders

Woody notes are inherently base notes making for a dependable and pliable scent that provides a strong foundation for reinforcing other perfume elements. Various trees have different scent profiles and Rosewood is one such precious scent that can serve as a top or middle note. While some can be reminiscent of charred wood chips, tarry and phenolic like Guiacwood; others can be austere and cozy like Cedarwood. Sandalwood is one fragrance that is subtly sweet, soft, flowing and comforting.

Agarwood or Oud is a rich and complex scent that encompasses woody, nutty, musty and camphoraceous notes. Woody notes give you a chance to escape into your favorite season just how thinking of Pine or Fir would remind us of the white and foggy afternoons. Some wood chips are responsive to distillation and maceration giving us the luxuriant masculine fragrances but several other notes are produced through synthesis to ensure sustainability, cost effectiveness and safety.

Vetiver, being native to India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia has gained popularity around the world. Though a grass, whose root is the source of the fragrant oil, it is known to emanate a dry and warm note. It is smoky, earthy, balsamic and leathery in nature and has become a preferred ingredient among masculine and many shared fragrances.

Patchouli is another interesting exception among woody notes as it is the leaf of a bushy herb of the mint family. Native to China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries, it bears small, pale pink-white flowers.



These are the bitter notes that have a rather deep and disturbing murkiness. Their scent profile is dark and replicates the forest floor during autumn. Mosses give a grounding property to the perfume that is pensive and sensual in nature. This is one of the few raw materials that have been rationed by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). Efforts are being made to duplicate these notes synthetically.


The Ancient and the Oriental

What Resins and balsams symbolize is the time long gone that saw the dawn of perfumery. These were the original raw materials that were often the basis of Oriental fragrances. These notes posses different olfactory profiles and aromatic properties.

Vanilla, Peru Balsam, Tolu Balsam and Benzoin are the Soft Balsamic notes that are on the sweeter and fresher side. With a gentle tone and a subtly enveloping quality, these have faint warmth that is conveying of their character. Resinous balsamic notes gel well with woody notes and are of a deeper ion texture. They are extracted from the barks of trees and linger and project. Opoponax, Myrrh, Styrax, Frankincense or Olibanum, Birch Tar and Elemi are some commonly found notes.


The Animal Within

A musky horse or a bold snow panther, which one do you want to be tonight? Animalic smells are the raw and fantastic ones. These notes are synthesized in the lab and evoke the animal in you, well not literally. These scents are reminiscent of animals either real or metaphorical. They depict the libidinous facet of the human nature and our animal instincts.

Deer Musk, Castoreum, Civet Cats and Ambergris were the traditional sources of notes in perfumery. Ethical treatment of animals and their welfare concerns have made substitution with synthetic variants mandatory making it a standard practice worldwide. Galaxolide, Habanolide, Allyl Amyl Glycolate and Ethyl Brassylate are some of the hundreds of variants of Musk that have been synthesized resulting in vaguely diverse odor profiles for each.

Amber notes again are a mix of resins, delivering a sweet, warm and deep note as opposed to Ambergris which is a rather salty, deep and vaguely skin-like note. Hyrax, Goat Hair Tincture, Beeswax, Roasted Sea Shells and some plants like Angelica and Ambrette Seeds are known as indirect sources of animalic notes as they produce compounds that replicate musk. Animalic notes often act as fixatives that slow down the evaporation process of the perfume. Other fixatives include Wood or Mosses and Resins.


Deluge of Fragrances-Beverages for Perfume

Fragrances can be tricky; they play games with your senses. They can replicate your favorite Wine or your beloved Hot Chocolate. They can be the festive fizz of your favorite Champaign or the toasted and caramelized flavor of your favorite Cola. They can either douse you into a Pina Colada or soak you in a strong shot of a Bitter Espresso.

Every single one of these delectable recreations is possible by utilizing ingredients that make up for the actual recipe, for instance Lime or Orange Juice or Vanilla extract or Cinnamon, the list goes on. Some raw materials like Rose or Berries are used to aromatize drinks such as Wines and Gins therefore accounting for their association with appetizing drinks and fruity blends.


Natural, Synthetic, Rare, Popular, Weird, Layered and Much More…

The hard to come by and the strange and unusual notes fall here. These notes are descriptive and suggestive. They can be powdery, earthy, musty and musky in various degrees and blends found across perfume compositions.

How do we identify our Note?

Notes are how we describe a perfume and no, you don’t have to grab a pen and take any of them down. These notes are the distinct colors that conspire to put together a perfume as captivating as a Picasso masterpiece. A result of the evaporation process of a perfume; these notes give any fragrance its characteristics. There are 3 notes; Top or Head Notes, Middle or Heart Notes and Base Notes. Each note has a distinct effect on the other; kind of like a layer of paint on canvas that defines the picture with depths and highlights. Each stroke of this subliminal yet intentional layer alters the scent as we perceive it.

Top Notes

These are also called the Head Notes and are believed to be the most volatile of the 3 with an evaporation coefficient ranging from 1 to 14. Remember when you “accidently” sprayed too much of your mom’s favorite perfume on your dress? The strong orangey and fruity scent that hit you right away was the top notes talking. Those were the highly volatile and small molecules of the perfume that evaporated rather quickly and almost made you sneeze. Well, almost.

The top notes are the ones that register a sharp and assertive scent giving you a feeling of instant freshness. They provide a quick first impression of the fragrance and are light and uplifting in nature. Lemon, Grapefruit, Eucalyptus, Orange, Spearmint, Tangerine and Sage are some common top notes that you may have come across.


Middle Notes

The heart wants what it wants and it wants the “heart” notes. The instant when the heady Top Notes dissipate, the Heart or Middle Notes start to tickle your senses with their full bodied presence and lingering roundedness. These notes have an evaporation coefficient ranging from 15 to 60 and take you over with their warmth and soft mellowness in 10 to 30 minutes of spraying a perfume.

They are not readily evident and cling to your senses as they develop on your skin to mask the not so pleasant initial impression of the base notes. Lavender, Cypress, Chamomile, Cardamom, Juniper and Rose are some of the most popular instances of Middle Notes.


Base Notes

These heavy scent molecules are the ones that account for the theme of the perfume along with the Middle Notes. Base Notes form the basic character of any perfume and they evaporate rather slowly with a volatility of 61 to 100. They form the foundation for the sharper Top Notes and the heartier Heart Notes. These fragrant compounds are typically rich and deep and emanate scent as they dry down steadily.

The after effects of base or final fragrance notes can be smelled well after 24 hours of applications. Balsam Peru, Vanilla, Myrrh, Patchouli, Clove, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang are some very popular base note compounds. Every category of fragrance overlaps the other and every note that we smell evolves and tends to transcend or recede. This is due to the various blends that make up a single perfume and each blend plays differently with our body chemistry. Therefore assigning a distinct spot or label to a particular scent becomes very subjective.


How is Perfume Made?

Before actually starting with the machines and equipment what you need are the initial ingredients. They can either come from handpicked flowers or animal products which are gathered by extracting substances directly from them and aromatic chemicals which are synthesized in laboratories. Extraction from plant and flower based ingredients is a primary source of fragrances and has the following key methods:

Steam Distillation makes use of steam to turn the essential oils into a gas; which is then cooled and liquefied. Boiling the plant substances and flower petals instead of steaming them is another effective way to achieve the same results.

Solvent Extraction makes use of large rotating tanks where flower ingredients are combined with Benzene or a Petroleum based ether to extract the oils. The solvents dissolve the flowers into a waxy material to then be placed in Ethyl Alcohol. The dissolved oil in the alcohol is heated which fully burns off the spirit, leaving behind highly concentrated perfume oil.

Enfleurage is when you spread the flowers on glass sheets coated with grease. The glass sheets are supported by wooden frames and once the grease has absorbed all the fragrance of flowers, they are removed by hand and changed.

Maceration is a process that makes use of warmed fats that soak up the flower smell.

Expression is the oldest and simplest to perform. It is as simple as squeezing a lemon into a glass of cold water to make lemonade. Yes, the fruit or plant is pressed manually or by mechanical means to collect its essence.

What is Blending?

A blend of different scents is formulated by a “nose” that is hired to perform this very critical job. Once the fragrant oils are collected, a formula is determined by the master in the field; the “nose” that is. It may take nearly 800 to 1000 different ingredients to make a formula and on top of that an art that has been perfected over several years do develop a particular scent.

This is the part where alcohol steps in. Remember how we barraged you with the mind boggling details of how different concentrations of perfumes and colognes are accountable for varied lasting effect? Yes, this is the part where everything should come rushing back to you. If not, then click on what you just read.


What is Aging of perfumes?

Wines and perfumes are similar in this respect, as the older it is the better it is considered. A fine perfume is often well formed only after it has aged for several months or probably years after the blending process. Here comes the “nose” again and this time he has his “invigilator” face on. The perfume is tested to ensure that the processes performed have resulted in the correct scent.

How is quality of perfumes maintained?

Perfumeries around the world take up the role of quality police when it comes to maintaining certain standard of scents. This is due to the risk that comes with every season’s harvest. Getting the right notes for a perfume every time depends heavily on the quality of plants, flowers, weather conditions, suspended substances in the air that may affect their growth, quality of water at the farm, etc. Extracting a pound of essential oil could mean processing thousands of flowers and overcoming disease or adverse weather makes it all the more hard to maintain consistency in natural perfume oils. This is made even more cumbersome by the fact that the same species of plants and flowers raised in different areas with even slightly different weather and soil conditions may yield oil with a different scent.

In case of perfumeries that depend on notes derived from animal products, the risk just widens. Collecting natural animal oils is difficult at times as many animals that were killed for their oils earlier are now on the verge of extinction and cannot be hunted. Sperm Whale, the Tibetan and Chinese deer, the Ethiopian Civet Cats and the Canadian and Russian Beavers are a few instances of endangered animals that are protected by the respective country laws. Therefore it has become important for perfumeries around the world to include synthetic fragrances that are relatively easy to construct and obviously within the law. Even though natural ingredients are preferred over lab formulated notes, synthetic perfumes have brought more freedom and stability in the craft of perfumery, while maintaining high quality.


Even the very finest of perfumes make use of synthetic perfumes and oils. They are the new mantra of today which is of being green and ecologically friendly. This eliminates the need to extract oils from plants and animals, thus removes the uncertainty associated with bad crop harvest and does away with the risk and added costs of extracting oils from animals. It also saves resources, time and preserves rare species.

What are Essential Oils?

There are Organic Perfumes and then there are Synthetic Perfumes. Some may prefer the natural musky note from a deer and some on the other hand may like the sweetness that a constructed musk leaves behind. Natural fragrances are usually dependent on Essential Oils that are hard to come by. These are highly suitable for sensitive skin or for those who simply want only organic substances to enhance their attractiveness. Essential oils are natural oils that are obtained by distillation from natural ingredients. They not only have the characteristic odor of the source but also its therapeutic and healing properties.

What makes essential oils so essential?

Essential oils are precious and much sorted after due to many reasons and some of them are as follows:

  • They create such a fragrance that makes emotional and physical healing possible. They calm you down, uplift your energy levels and relax your mood.
  • Every essential oil can be worn either separately or layered with any other to create different scents. Organic and natural perfumes give a unique and individual scent on every single wearer. They keep unwanted body odor miles away so that you can smell amazing throughout the day.
  • Essential oils uplift your frame of mind and lift your spirits by either mellowing your mood or projecting it playfully and mischievously.
  • A great source of high quality perfume; these essential oils can be a real confidence booster. A dash can work wonders for your personality.
  • You get to choose your attractiveness and smell the way you want to. They contain natural perfumes that are rich in pheromones which make you more appealing and may act like an Aphrodisiac.
  • There is no scientific evidence yet, though these oils and their perfumes are believed to possess healing properties that keep stress and anxiety at bay.
  • Requiem of a memory; essential oils or any other perfume for that matter trigger memory association. Who said time travel isn’t possible? It is if you use the right oil. A fragrance can take you to a happier time in your life or to a person that you loved so dearly.
  • Aromatherapy makes use of the many relaxing and therapeutic benefits of these fragrant oils. Citrus, floral, lavender and winter spice are some of those perfumes that calm our mind and soothe our body.
  • Having sleepless nights? May be it isn’t love after all. But the love for fragrances can sure help you sleep better at night. Perfumes that are high on essential oils will fix you so that you can relax and fall into a velvety slumber in no time.
  • No more calling in sick anymore! Can’t really say if it is good or bad but fragrant essential oils can cure an annoying, nagging headache anywhere.

Fragrance Oils

These can and do add scents to many things around us. Fragrance Oils imitate the perfumes contained in Essential Oils but minus the benefits. While both, essential and fragrance oils are interchangeable in some instances, their uses differ. Perfumes, scented candles, soaps, lotions, hair care products and air fresheners are just a few examples where you can find the fragrances of your liking; such can be the reach of your everyday Lavender or Rose or Jasmine in the form of Fragrance Oils. These are artificially created fragrances and they do not contain natural substances. They simply mimic the scent of a natural product.


Let’s Spill Some Oil Shall We?

We all have heard of the much talked about Essential Oils and we just read what they are capable of doing. But what exactly are they and how do they do what they do?

Essential Oils, despite their name are not oily. They are in fact ethereal aromatic concentrates derived from whichever source possible and in this case they can be blossoms or buds, wood or timber, leaves, twigs, roots, rind or even seeds. They are volatile and complex by nature. Most of them are made up of either dozens or hundreds of chemical components. Every Essential Oil plays a distinct role or a set of roles in nature, from attracting insects to repelling pests and parasites, to providing anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefits as well. Majority of Essential Oils are extracted by Distillation.

Essential Oil uses include:

  • Aromatherapy;
  • Medicinal applications;
  • As fragrances in perfumes, colognes, cosmetics, massage oils, bath products, incense, cleaning products, and;
  • Sometimes certain oils are used commercially for flavoring food and drinks.

Their scents can be very therapeutic and can have differing effects on the mind, emotions, and body.

How Does Aromatherapy Work?

To begin with this we need to understand that our sense of smell is directly linked with our memories and subconscious and plays an important role in our overall wellness. Early civilizations of the Chinese, Romans, Egyptians and Greeks realized the importance of this sense and used aromatic flowers and herbs to cure many ailments. It was not until the late 1920s that the word Aromatherapy was coined

Today scientists believe Aromatherapy to be very effective in relieving many physical, mental and emotional problems. The reaction between specific essential oils and our body’s natural chemicals can produce a plethora of positive results. Some of them are:

  • Calming you down;
  • Sedating you for better sleep;
  • Stimulating your nervous system;
  • Energizing your body and soul;
  • Relieving pain from your joints and muscles;
  • Providing anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties;
  • Diuretic.

Aromatic essential oils help your body restore a normal balance both, physically and emotionally. While many medical practitioners argue them being beneficial and complementary in traditional treatments, others are of a different opinion.

How do essential oils enter our body?

According to a study by the University of Minnesota there are various factors that associate essential oils to our overall wellbeing.

  • They can be applied to the skin through a collage of aromatherapy
  • They can be inhaled
  • They can be ingested

How Does Skin Application Work?

Essential oils have been used in this way for years and common examples are that of applying a blend of black pepper (Piper nigrum) or ginger (Zinziber officinalis) essential oil to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility. Another instance is that of German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) essential oil to treat eczema. So how does this work? Our skin is waterproof but somewhat permeable. These oils contain active chemicals that are easily absorbed into our skin, much like the ingredients in common pharmaceuticals like hormone replacement therapy cream and nicotine patches.

How to apply essential oils onto the skin?

The standard norm is to dilute the highly concentrated essential oils with any of the carrier oils such as almond, jojoba, apricot, peach, sunflower or grape seed. Now, there are ways to increase skin absorption as well and speed up the healing process. Massaging the area first increases circulation to that area which helps in absorption of essential oils into the skin. Heat generated due to contact increases circulation as well and thus enhances absorption. Some researchers also suggest that certain skin locations with more sweat glands and hair follicles such as the head, soles and palms, genitals and armpits can more readily absorb essential oils.


How Does Inhaling Them Work?

This is a rather interesting way to enter essential oils into your body and clearly a very enjoyable one at that. Inhaling them with your nose and/or mouth literally fills you up with their aroma. A very common example of that is inhaling eucalyptus essential oil when you have a cough or inhaling peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil to reduce fatigue or nausea.

Our olfactory system includes physical organs or cells that relate or contribute to our sense of smell. When we inhale through our nose, the airborne oil molecules interact with these organs and the brain. These molecules are further carried to the lungs where they interact with our respiratory system. These smells interact with our limbic system which is the emotional brain. These receptor sites within the brain are connected to our heart rate, blood pressure, memories, breathing, stress and hormone balance. Smell molecules travel to this part of the brain, thus triggering emotions. It can be really surprising how profound an effect these smells cam have on us, both, physiologically and psychologically.

"Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived." Helen Keller

Can You Actually Ingest Essential Oils?

Although not recommended for the general public, it is still practiced. Weird but true. There are a lot of factors such as science, knowledge, precautions, expertise and safety norms that go into ingesting essential oils. In countries like the US, there is no such practice but there are specially trained physicians and pharmacists in France that prescribe and dispense them for such use.

What Prompts Us To Be So Cautious Of Them Anyway?

You’ll be surprised to know that despite their healing and rejuvenating properties, some essential oils can be toxic to your liver or kidneys when ingested. Chemical breakdown of essential oils during gastric processing can change their effects. There could be potential drug interactions with medications that you might already be taking.

So how safe are fragrances?

Fragrances are found in almost everything we own and use. From cosmetics to eatables; everything smells like we want it to. Such wide applications of fragrances make it imperative that they are safe for us. This is a responsibility that fragrance manufacturers and the companies that use fragrances in their products take very seriously.


What do the governing bodies say on their safety?

“The safety of fragrance ingredients is assessed by a comprehensive program operated by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). This comprehensive program, in operation since 1973, includes a Code of Practice (the Code) that provides recommendations for good manufacturing practices and guidelines on fragrance ingredient safety assessment, including fragrance safety standards which limit or ban the usage of certain fragrance materials. IFRA oversees the gathering of information about the safety of individual fragrance ingredients and reviews this information to determine safety under expected conditions of product use. The conclusions of the IFRA safety review are published in the IFRA Code of Practice which provides critical guidance to fragrance formulators and users to establish product safety.

Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) is a non-profit scientific institute founded in 1966 for the purpose of generating and evaluating safety data on fragrance ingredients. RIFM evaluates and distributes scientific data on the safety assessment of fragrance raw materials found in perfumes, cosmetics, shampoos, creams, detergents, air fresheners, candles and other personal and household products. RIFM's Database of Fragrance is the most comprehensive source worldwide for toxicology data, literature and information on the safety evaluation of fragrance materials. The scientific foundation of RIFM is built around its independent Expert Panel (REXPAN), made up of toxicologists, pharmacologists, dermatologists and environmental scientists, none of whom has any other connection to the fragrance industry, and whose work involves the safety evaluation of fragrance ingredients under conditions of intended use. The results of the RIFM Expert Panel evaluations are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and their decisions regarding restrictions of use are published in the IFRA Standards.”

What is the importance of synthetic compounds in perfumery?

According to a report compiled by experts, up to a staggering 95% of chemicals that are used in fragrances are synthetic compounds. These are derived from petroleum and coal tar which include VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Benzene derivatives, aldehydes, ketones, alcohol denaturants and other known toxics & sensitizers are some of those compounds.

Are there any risks associated with them?

Apparently, they are capable or suspected of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders & allergic reactions. Now, not to alarm you but research also shows that such chemicals have direct and quick access to the brain through our nasal passages (so much for inhaling perfumes).

Are there any guidelines for fragrance safety?

There are strict FDA guidelines to be followed by drug companies while developing intranasal drugs. They are required to prove safety with full ingredient disclosure. On the other hand, fragrance manufacturers (with 75% to 95% VOC content in their products) are self-regulated, that means that they are not required to do any safety testing or reveal any ingredients.


How to stay aware of any possible harm from fragrances?

Your favorite fragrance typically comprises 30-500 of the 3,000-5,000 perfume chemicals in use. According to the RIFM, 1,300 single ingredients have been tested but only for safety on skin and not for that of the central nervous system. This is despite the fact that many of these individual chemicals in fragrances are known to be neurotoxic and/or carcinogenic. Beware of labels such as “unscented,” “fragrance-free,” or “hypo-allergenic” as they have no legal, safety or regulatory meaning. Such products may contain “masking–fragrances” which may not be listed as a fragrance (as required by FDA). Furthermore, these masking-fragrances have been suspected to have caused sensitivity reactions in consumers.

Examples of Lack of Safety & Enforcement

Two ingredients (AETT and musk ambrette) were found to be neurotoxic by independent researchers. However, AETT had been a “safety tested” ingredient according to RIFM and had already been in use in fragrances for over twenty years. Musk ambrette which was supposedly voluntarily withdrawn by the industry (and on the “prohibited” list by IFRA) was discovered in fragranced products still being produced and sold 6 to 7 years later.

What is self-regulation in fragrance industry?

Two ingredients (AETT and musk ambrette) were found to be neurotoxic by independent researchers. However, AETT had been a “safety tested” ingredient according to RIFM and had already been in use in fragrances for over twenty years. Musk ambrette which was supposedly voluntarily withdrawn by the industry (and on the “prohibited” list by IFRA) was discovered in fragranced products still being produced and sold 6 to 7 years later.

How does the medical field view this practice?

Medical practitioners today recognize fragrance as a common trigger of health problems such as asthma, migraine, allergies and sinus problems. Recent health reports indicate that these problems have increased dramatically in the past 10 years. Organizations assume the increased use of fragranced products to be the cause behind these problems. Furthermore, fragranced products have also been now recognized as a common source of indoor air and environmental pollution. Even the EPA states minimum use of fragrances, yet the industry remains self-regulated and with voluntary standards.

What about fragrance allergies and sensitivities?

A very small percentage of individuals may claim to be allergic or sensitive to certain ingredients. Those ingredients are safe for most people but some substances may potentially be allergic yet can still be formulated into consumer products at safe levels. Some fragrance components may have a potency to cause allergic skin reactions or dermal sensitization for some people. Chemical, cellular and molecular understanding of the skin reaction helps in conducting a safety appraisal through Quantitative Risk Assessment. This lets the expert determine safe levels of fragrance ingredients in a variety of consumer product types. Visit the official websites of IFRA and RIFM for more information.


How to prevent perfume or fragrance related allergies?

FDA does not require manufacturers to list allergens in their products and therefore labeling for cosmetics is different than that for food products. So, it is always advised to choose products that do not contain ingredients to which you might be allergic. In case you have a specific question, you may even contact the manufacturer directly which is widely practiced as almost all manufacturers provide a toll-free number or website information for your convenience.

What is multiple chemical sensitivity?

You must have come across a few people who believe they are extremely sensitive to many materials found in everyday life, including fragrances; referred to as “multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)” or “environmental illness (EI).” However, according to the American Medical Association, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the California Medical Association and the American College of Physicians MCS or EI do not hold the pre-requisite characteristics to be recognized as a clinical syndrome or disease. In addition, the United States Department of Justice has specifically rejected the characterization of MCS or EI as a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA).

So does that mean I am safe from the ill effects of fragrances?

In a word, yes. You do however have to recognize the allergens that might potentially cause you harm and they don’t have to come from a fragrance or perfume. It is quite clear from the above discussion that fragrance and cosmetic or personal care product manufacturers are diligent for the safety of their customers. With fragrances now more common than ever and being included in almost every household & personal care product are almost impossible to avoid. They are used daily by millions of men, women and children; believed to be safe for the simple reason that the risk to benefits ratio favors the benefits by multiples.

Why have scents become so important in the business world?

Scents are synonymous with beauty and also a personal thing. A different aroma can be found everywhere and this makes smells and fragrances a more than vital ingredient in personal care all over the world. They not only mask the scents of active chemical ingredients but also play a significant role in product positioning and marketing. The global fragrance trends in beauty and personal care have the market looking up and the share of products such as bath and shower, hair care and deodorants has risen.


How are fragrances related to marketing?

Fragrances have grown bigger than just masking agents for chemicals and have become a significant marketing tool. It helps position your products and enhances their overall sensory appeal. We are seeing a trend that leads us to all things natural and food-related appetizing smells. With their increasing popularity manufacturers have an opportunity to improve their product image. Yes, it gives off a feeling of being safe enough to be eaten but don’t end up gobbling down your dish cleaner just because it smells of oranges. These ingredients are there to assure the consumer that the product they chose is certainly safe for their skin or hair. Growing awareness of nutraceuticals is also boosting market for food-related scents and promotes a healthy product positioning. Indulgent food and drink fragrances continue to add a luxurious feel to personal care lines.

What is the role of scents in marketing?

Well, in brief scents impart a different image to your brand of being safer and milder to use. This makes for efficient product positioning as the consumer recognizes the item as being of high quality and having natural extracts. This is opposed to competitor’s products in the same category having synthetically created formulas. Appealing scents portray your product as being healthier and promises an overall pleasant experience. Natural and organic smelling themes are yet to be explored fully and until then smells will keep on drawing more and more manufacturers to venture into this arena.

What do we do with all this amount of perfumes and fragrances?

Studies suggest that a quarter of total fragrance volume goes into personal care goods and this trend shows promising growth in the coming years. The regions that promise such growth are the Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America over 2013-2018.

  • Bath and shower products lead the way in every region of the world,
  • Deodorants gaining more and more importance, coming to the third spot,
  • Before men’s grooming products come in at the fourth place

The trend is catching up and is different for every country. Though a major chunk of focus is on the developed world, developing nations are not behind with emerging demand in various related sectors.


Sense of Smell, Sense of Business

It is probably the most common sight that we come across when we sit in front of our TV sets; soaps, shampoos, creams, detergents, window cleaners, deodorants, lotions, coffee, peanut butter, chocolate, our favorite brand of ice-cream, the list goes on. Every advertisement that we see is talking about a product packed with a specific scent, a particular fragrance and a distinct aroma of its own, but why?

Why is it so important for our brands to smell in a certain way? What is it that makes them so likable that we only prefer them and nothing else when it comes to shopping?

Business heads have known it for a very long time now and it has become quite scientific in nature. This is an approach to maximizing sales. According to a report by the Time magazine, aromas of chocolate and baked bread in the Net Cost grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, are all artificial. They are being pumped into the store by machine. And it seems like a clever to thing to do, doesn’t it? The world of advertisement hits our senses rather strongly but the one sense that is largely overlooked is that of smell. Targeting the consumers’ sense of smell is one unique but effective way to getting their attention and obtaining a positive response. Our sense of smell is directly hardwired into our minds and for most of us a particular scent can mean different connotations.

How are we affected by different smells?

The smell of freshly baked bread could transport some into their old neighborhood bakery where they spent some splendid crumbs of their childhood munching off the muffins that the old playful chef would purposely leave behind. Some would lose themselves into a memory of a long lost friend that was fond of lime scented soaps. Perhaps the warmth of hot chocolate speaks to you in a way that a cozy evening does on a rainy day.

"It is fairly widespread here," says Mike Gatti, the executive director of marketing at the National Retail Federation. "A lot of retail companies use it, and its purpose really is to keep customers in your store, to create this welcoming environment – and it works; it does keep people in your store longer. It helps people feel better in their shopping, and in a lot of cases causes them to spend more money."

Semoff says that a study run by Nike showed that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by 80 per cent, while in another experiment at a petrol station with a mini-mart attached to it, pumping around the smell of coffee saw purchases of the drink increase by 300 per cent. "Numbers are pretty outrageous," he says.

How else are perfumes and scents being used?

Well, scents are not just a way to promote a particular product. Stores, hotels and clubs of almost every size use artificial smells more generally now to create an overall pleasant environment for their customer. It is also a way to reinforce their brand and to bring to their mind the experience of their stay in a hotel or perhaps their amazing night out with friends over a dart game at a new local club. It is not just the supermarket chains that are finding this idea cashable.


What is Nebulization?

Nebulization is a technology through which fragrant oil is converted into dry vapor to be used commercially on a wider scale. Smells are being distributed everywhere now. Luxury hotels for example are coming up with their own line of fragrances to lure in more guests. Every time you step into a luxury hotel, ravishing your nose will be a wave of lingering and mesmerizing scents. This is one of the many unique ways to stimulate your senses after the design, luxurious furniture, shiny flooring, gorgeous lighting and the inviting music. These specially made scents are piped into lobbies and common areas of hotels. They work to subtly shift the guests’ mood. Take Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Vdara Hotel & Spa, which lures you into the lobby with a green fig fragrance, while Spa & Salon Vdara fills its air with a pleasant grapefruit odor. The hotel industry is capitalizing on smell’s ability to instantly cue memories and conjure up emotions, and turning that moment into a branding opportunity.

Most major international hotel chains—including Sofitel, Le Meridién and The Ritz-Carlton—already diffuse their unique aromas throughout their properties, but smaller brands have started focusing on fragrance as well. In fact, many have taken scent branding a step further and begun selling their hotel’s scents in sprays, sticks and candles for you to purchase. Therein steps science again and says that scents have amazing access to our brains and can evoke certain feelings. Emotions therefore always are at play while selecting a particular brand over another. Experts believe that successful scent branding in the hotel industry is playing a crucial role in strengthening brand loyalty and producing repeat guests. Not to mention the additional sales that a hotelier can generate through the sale of their perfme fragrance products.

Use of Fragrances in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Fragrances have been enjoyed for thousands of years and the ritual continues to hold relevance even today. An appealing and fresh smell is a symbol of personal hygiene; a distinct aroma is associated with a person’s individuality and a lingering scent does oodles to enhance your self-esteem. If a product is intended to be applied to a person’s body to make the person more attractive, it’s a cosmetic under the law. Some perfect examples of fragrant products are:


Research indicates that fragrance is one of the key factors that affect people’s preference for cosmetic and personal care products. There are hundreds of scents created every year, in countries all over the world. They enhance our well being by delivering a positive impact on our psyche. Many products that may contain fragrance ingredients, but are not applied directly to the body, are regulated, not by the FDA, but by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

  • Laundry detergents
  • Fabric softeners
  • Dryer sheets
  • Room air fresheners and
  • Carpet fresheners are some examples.

How is Labeling of Fragrance Ingredients important to customers?

Any cosmetic being marketed on retail basis to consumers, either in stores or online or person-to-person, is required to have a list of ingredients. Each ingredient is listed individually in most cases, but under U.S. regulations, all the fragrance ingredients can simply be listed under a single head, “Fragrance.”

Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), FDA requires the listing of all cosmetic ingredients. Fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of many different natural and man-made chemical ingredients. They are the kinds of cosmetic components that are considered “trade secrets” and therefore this law can’t be used to force a company to disclose them to the general public or competitors for that matter.

How has Perfumery evolved as a science?

Fragrance and fragrance ingredients are among the first cosmetics used by early humans. Perfumed balms, myrrh and frankincense were used by Egyptians as part of religious ceremonies and in rituals. Perfumery has advanced significantly from isolation of ingredients to a sophisticated science that encompasses unique new materials and sensitive methods of composition and quality control. This has resulted in the dawn of fragrance chemistry, a highly specialized field which requires knowledge of various substances and their interaction to produce the desired odor


Formulating a fragrance entails determining:

  • The strength of the smell,
  • Compatibility of ingredients,
  • Stability to light and heat,
  • Interaction with product packaging,
  • Volatility,
  • Change in properties if any upon being applied to the skin and
  • Their interplay in achieving the desired final effect that yields an aesthetically pleasing product.
Do odors and scents affect our personality?

In any culture around the world, fragrances are not only used to modulate body odor, they are seen as a way to attract the right mate. Therefore it won’t be entirely wrong to say that the psychology behind choosing a particular fragrance has been largely overlooked. We know that fragrances mask our body odor and make us more pleasant to others generally. Our body is able to practically emulate a bitter chocolate bar or a vanilla cake depending on our wooer’s tastes. We all use perfumes and fragrances of various brands and more often than not it is a thing of our preference. This brings us to a very interesting point where the resultant odor retains the characteristics of both perfume and body odor. This odor is perceptually different from either constituent. Therefore the fantastic effects of perfume on body odor perception are very significant. This is the aspect of fragrances that makes for a distinct aroma and in turn makes us unique.

Fragrance and human psychology; how are they related?

Studies suggest that the mixture of your body odor with your preferred perfume is perceived as more pleasant than the blend of it with a randomly-allocated perfume. This tells us how fragrance extends beyond as simple masking agents and that we tend to choose perfumes that interact well with our own odor and we should.

“Odors are highly potent in affecting various domains of human psychological functioning, ranging from perception and mood to cognitive processes and behavior.” Perfumes and fragrances could be very effective even at concentrations below conscious levels. For example, a sub-threshold ambient ‘sweet’ odor can increase our pain tolerance, while a common detergent scent changes spontaneous cleaning behavior. Smells can affect our judgment of faces, our interactions and reactions.


All these findings point to the significance of our scent in social realms as its use that has been linked to cleanliness, social status and personality. They enhance our attractiveness, mood and responses of the opposite sex. Moreover, perfumes give us a self-confidence that is eminent in how others perceive us socially. For instance, Roberts et al. asked their targets, half of whom were using a commercial deodorant (the other half used a placebo deodorant), to take a video recording while introducing themselves to an imagined person of the opposite-sex. An independent group of raters who saw the muted videos judged deodorant users as more attractive than the placebo group. Using a similar design, Higuchi et al. also found changes in nonverbal behavior and increases in attributed confidence.

Therefore it is wise to say that the most popular role of fragrances is in the way they influence our social interactions and romantic relationships. Scientists claim that women do see the scent of a man as an essential cue in the context of partner choice. No wonder the hoard of advertisements that we see on TV boasting of making women crazy in a single sniff are so outrageously admired. Use of fragrance is not recent; it is not specific to western cultures either. It comes to us from as old a civilization as the ancient Egypt. They and other diverse races and cultures too liked to modify their body odor with a variety of substances making the use of fragrance a near universal human phenomenon and we are no different.


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