The Basics of Fragrances

Most of us wear perfumes almost everyday, but do you know where the scent comes from and how it was made?

How Fragrances are Made
A lot of fragrances today have synthetic ingredients, but flowers are the most essential on the list. You can liken the importance of flowers in creating fragrances to the importance of grapes in making different types of wine. The species of the flower, season, climate and soil, and the amount used will decide the outcome of the scent. Two of the most important flowers used are rose and jasmine, and there are techniques in harvesting the flowers at the right season and at the right time of the day.

Once the flowers are harvested, the extraction of the oils begins right after the flowers are picked so that they don’t lose the oil. The flowers are placed in trays and immersed in solvent so that floral wax can be obtained. The fatty oils are separated from the essential oils to create an absolute, which is the main ingredient needed to make perfume. Another way to extract oils is through the distillation process, but this method leaves some of the aroma of the flowers.

Not all flowers can produce essential oils, that is why synthetic products are required as replacement for the intended scent. Some fragrances also contain animal products for fixatives so that the scent does not evaporate too quickly once the bottle is opened and to make the scent last longer. Two other important ingredients are water and alcohol, which are used to dilute the ingredients. The ratio of the essential oils to alcohol determines the type of fragrance. It could be parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, and eau fraiche.

Types of Fragrances
All scents can be classified into four major families, regardless if it’s a designer or a niche fragrance. Floral notes consist of floral, fruity, soft floral, and floral oriental. Oriental notes are made up of woody oriental, soft oriental, oriental, and woods. Woody notes consist of woods, mossy woods, dry woods, and aromatic. While fresh notes are made up of citrus, water, green, and fruity.

When you spray the fragrance on your skin, it goes through a three-part life cycle. The cycle determines the scent that will come out once the perfume starts to evaporate or interact with your body. The top note lasts for up to 2 hours and has a light smell right after the application. The medium note, sometimes called heart note, is the main scent of the fragrance that lasts for about 5 hours. The base note is a bold scent that you will detect after 5 hours and determines how long the fragrance will last on your skin.

When choosing fragrances, you can pick either from designer fragrances, which are commonly sold in stores and are mass produced, or niche fragrances on the other hand, which are more expensive than designer fragrances and are created by independent artists. The latter are usually made from higher quality ingredients are have bolder scents.