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by Shashi Gossain B.Sc (Hons), MRPS, Member

Few gifts are more personal than a perfume!

Perfumes are an ideal way of expressing love or appreciation, especially during Christmas time, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays or Anniversaries.

But which one should you buy?

A woman’s perfume should reflect her personality, as each combination of scents expresses her unique individuality.

The precise formula of perfumes is kept secret by the various manufacturers or ‘Houses’. The complex chemical procedures and the exact concentrations of ingredients used are closely guarded secrets, and it would be virtually impossible to produce an identical scent!

The most practical way to start describing a perfume is according to the concentration of the ingredients and notes of the scent, which all contribute to the first aromatic drift, right to the last lingering notes.

Perfume oils are diluted with a solvent to make them more stable, the most common solvent being ethanol. They can also be diluted in natural oils e.g. jojoba, coconut oil or wax.

The concentration of perfume oils is roughly as follows:

Perfume extract: 20%-40% aromatic compounds

Eau de parfum: 10%-30% aromatic compounds

Eau de toilette: 5%-20% aromatic compounds

Eau de Cologne: 2%-5% aromatic compounds

The lower the percentage of the aromatic compounds used, the lower the intensity and longevity of the scent.

The price of a perfume is determined by the saturation of the oils and alcohol, with the highest concentration being the most expensive.

The oils are extracted from various flowers and plants, and then, according to the types used, can be further classified as follows:

Single Floral: Fragrances that are dominated by the scent of one flower.

Floral Bouquet: Fragrances containing the combination of several flowers in a scent.

Ambery: Fragrances containing vanilla, and a combination of flowers & woods, which are further enhanced by camphorous oils and incense.

Woody: Fragrances that are dominated by woody scents, especially sandalwood, cedar, Patchouli.

Leather: Fragrances derived from honey, tobacco, and wood tars, a combination of which has a very “leathery” smell.

Chypre: Fragrances derived from bergamot, oak moss, patchouli and labdanum.

Fougere: Fragrances derived from lavender, coumarin and musk.

Oceanic/Ozone: Very clean and modern, with sharp overtones.

Fragrances are further divided into Notes. The notes unfold over a period of time i.e.:

Top Notes:

These scents are perceived immediately on application of a perfume, and hence form one’s initial impression. These consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly and are described as “assertive”.

Middle Notes: After the scent of the top notes has evaporated, the middle notes make up the main body of the fragrance. Lavender and rose are often used in this category, and the scents can linger up to one hour after application.

Base Notes: Base notes bring depth to the perfume. They consist of large, heavy molecules that evaporate slowly, and can last up to 24 hours after application!

Several parts of the plants are used for their different fragrances:

Bark: Cinnamon & Cascarilla

Flowers & Blossoms: Rose, Jasmine, Osmanthus, Mimosa, citrus, Ylang-ylang, Vanilla, Orchids

Fruits: Apples, Strawberries, Cherries, Juniper berry.

Leaves & Twigs: Lavender, Patchouli, Sage, Violets, Rosemary & Citrus.

Resins: Labdanum, Frankincense, Myrrh, Amber, Pine and Firs.

Roots: Iris, Ginger

Seeds: Coriander, Caraway, Cocoa, Nutmeg, Mace, Cardamom, Anise

Woods: Sandalwood, Rosewood, Agar wood, Cedar wood, Juniper , Pine.

How to Test a Fragrance:

Apply a little to the inside of your wrist. Wait for the first notes to evaporate, as the following notes interact with your own body’s unique smell to create something quite special to you.

Do not sample more than three perfumes at any one time, as it will be difficult to judge what fragrance is creating the right experience for you!

How to Make it Last Longer!

Scents need oils to cling to your skin, so you will have to use more if you have dry skin.

You can apply a little Vaseline to the places where you apply perfume. This will make the scent ‘cling on’.

Apply perfume right after a bath/shower, as your pores will be open, and the scent will be soaked up much quicker.

Now off to buy the best perfume!

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