Flaconneur's Perfume Blog
The following list details the different concentrations in the production of perfumes. Your experience regarding longevity or sillage (scent trail) might be effected based on a particular concentration. There are different percentages of natural oils or aromatic compounds used in the production of these products which directly effect potency of the perfume.
- Perfume or Parfum: The ultimate luxury and long lasting hold with 15-40% aromatic compounds
- Esprit de Parfum: 15-30% aromatic compounds. This is a very seldom used strength
- Eau de Parfum: A long lasting concentration that can be used more generously than perfume with 10-20% aromatic compounds. You will sometimes see this as "millésime"
- Eau de toilette: A light concentration with 5-15% aromatic compounds
- Eau de Cologne: 3-8% aromatic compounds
- Perfume mist, Brume de Parfum, Voile de Parfum, Eau Parfumée, Eau Sans Alcohol: 3-8% aromatic compounds and typically non-alcohol solvent
- Eau Fraiche, Splash and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compounds
Ben Gorham is the brains behind the fragrance company known as Byredo. In this casual interview with Simon from Barneys New York, we learn a few personal facts about the man behind these creative fragrances.
The following is a breakdown of how different levels in perfumes are conceived by the human nose. This breakdown is referred to as notes. There are three set of notes in a fragrance and when these notes are combined, this create a scent accord. The notes unfold over time as the fragrance is exposed to air and evaporation. Your immediate impression would be called the top notes which then, as time elapses, lead you to the middle notes or sometimes referred to as heart notes. Finally the middle notes slowly move to the final stage of base notes. Keeping the idea of evaporation in the perfume process, this movement through the three note level is considered carefully during the creation of a perfume.
- Top Notes: Perceived immediately after initial application. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person's initial impression of a perfume. They are also referred to as head notes.
- Middle Notes: These merge just prior to the dissipation of the top notes. The middle note blend from the Heart or main body of a perfume and act to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant with time. They are also referred to as heart notes.
- Base Notes: These appears close to the departure of the middle notes. The base and middle notes together are the main theme of a perfume. Base notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume. Blends of this class of scents are typically rich and "deep" and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after application.
The scents in the top and middle notes are influenced by the base notes, as well the scents of the base notes will be altered by the type of fragrance materials used as middle notes. Manufacturers of perfumes usually publish perfume notes to help you understand the basis behind the perfume.
Today, the word perfume describes a scented liquid with which people adorn themselves. Usually the application of the perfume is at the beginning of the day or perhaps a special event. These perfumes are stored in beautifully decorated decanters with interesting shapes and colors. Scents can fit a variety of personalities and tastes and each as unique as the person choosing it. But how did the perfume story begin?
Perfume comes from the Latin words per fumus meaning "through smoke". Perfumes began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt were refined later by the Romans and Persians. The art of perfumery is thought to have begun with a woman by the name of Tapputi who is regarded as being the worlds first chemist. Tapputi was a Mesopotamian who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet dating from the second millennium BC. She was able to use flowers, oil and calamus in combinations with cyperus, myrrh and balsam. She would add water then distill and filter the mixture several times to produce scented elixirs.
The Egyptians were famous for their use of incense for religious ceremonies. Fragrances were generally achieved by the burning of woods and resins. The first incorporation of perfume into the Egyptian culture and religious ceremonies was probably during the rule of Queen Sheba. Queen Hatshepsut, the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, led many expeditions to search out incense, spices and herbs for the production of perfumes. It wasn't until the beginning of the Golden Age that perfumes were allowed to be used by the masses. Previously, their use was reserved for only a select few. Generally, the use of incense was restricted to religious worship, pharaohs and the wealthy. After priests relinquished their hold on the use of incense, Egyptians were encouraged to perfume themselves often. The Egyptians used perfumes as part of the embalming process for the dead as well. Many perfumes were in the form of incense composed from water or oil soaked resins and woods. Perfume bottles would be found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs enabling them to take their perfumes into the afterlife. The use of aromatics was part of the Egyptian culture from everyday life to death. They also carried a reputation for creating some of the most lavish containers for their perfumes. The containers were often made from alabaster, glass and porcelain.
The ancient Greeks and Romans took their cue from the experienced Egyptians and took it one step further. The Greek perfume shops and bath houses were social gathering places filled with scent. The Greeks were the first to comprise their perfumes from a liquid which combined fragrant powders with oils. These liquid perfumes were store in bottles called alabastrums. The bottle were named this because they were originally made of alabaster but they were also made of combinations of alabaster and gold. The lily and rose were flowers that were given high regard in Greek society. The Greeks used olive and almond oils as a trapping agent for these popular flowers. The fragrant oils would be added to their bath water and again applied after bathing.
Just like the Greeks, the Romans were famous for their bath houses and incorporated perfume into their culture. The public bath house was a social gathering place and would be visited after the work of the day was completed. It was a place for you to exercise, bathe and socialize. One room in the Roman bath house referred to as the "unctuarium" would be filled with pots and jar of fragrant oils for use by its denizens.
India was a perfume producing country and their scents were mostly incense based like the Egyptians. The distillation process knowns as Ittar or Attar (a natural perfume oil derived from botanicals) was mentioned in the Hindu Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita. The mention of agarwood oil dates back to the Harschcharita which was written in the 7th century in Northern India. In ancient times perfumes were derivatives from herbs, spices and flowers.
A book entitled "Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations" was written in the 9th century by an Arabian chemist by the name of Al-Kindi. It includes over 100 different methods and recipes for the art of perfume making. The book also included some of the equipment for the perfume making process, including the mention of the alembic. An alembic is an alchemical still which is composed of two vessels connected by a tube and it is used in the distilling process.
Ibn Sina was a Persian chemist who introduced the distilling process that extracts oils from flowers and is the procedure that is most commonly used today. Before his discovery, liquid perfumes were combinations of oil and crushed herbs or flower pedals which produced a strong blend. Rose water was immediately popular because of its delicate nature. These processes significantly influenced western perfumery along with the many scientific developments, in particular, chemistry.
Like the Egyptians, the Chinese found the use of incense very important as well in the ceremonies surrounding death. The body would be throughly washed and then perfumed. Incense would also be lit to fill the room with its aroma. China has always had a reputation for its love and appreciation of flowers. Chinese women would wrap flowers into the hair creating a bun with beautiful scents. The Japanese were also known for the burning of incense, gums and resins for ritual.
One of the oldest perfumes was unearthed during an archaeological dig in 2005 in Pyrgos, Cyprus. The perfumes that were discovered were more than 4,000 years old. The dig unearthed an ancient perfumery with an assortment of equipment for the perfume making process. Some of which included stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles. The factory itself was spread over an area of 43,000 square feet. This was an important discovery and confirmed that perfume making was a serious industry.
Today, all that we know about the production processes for perfume making rests largely on the shoulders of the ancient world. It is through their knowledge and experience that enables us to continue the art of perfume.
This will not be a lengthy tutorial on how to press the atomizer button on your fragrance bottle, but it will discuss the most common types of fragrance application. Is there a right and wrong way to apply perfume? The answer is no, but, there are some good general rules in order to help you get the most our of your fragrance. Fragrances are expensive, so there is no point in wasting them. Here are three of the most commonly used application methods.
Pulse points are areas of skin where the blood flow is directly under the skin surface. These pulse point are constantly supplied with warmth. The fragrance is in constant contact with a heat source which assists in activating and diffusing the fragrance. Some common pulse points are located at the neck, wrists, inner elbow and the chest or cleavage. When applying to the wrists, it is generally thought that rubbing a fragrance once applied, heats up the skin surface and breaks down the molecules — not a good idea. It is almost second nature that people apply fragrances to the wrist. There are many that have abandoned this method because they generally wash their hands after using the restroom or perform duties that involve a great deal of hand washing and hence, wash off the fragrance as well.
The Cloud Method
It is thought that spritzing perfume and walking through the cloud is generally a good way to apply perfume. When I am taking about perfume, I mean pure perfume. Spray the perfume into the air and walk straight into its mist. The downfall to this application type is there is less perfume that comes directly in contact with skin. Walking through a cloud of perfume must be done prior to dressing. This application type will usually be relatively equally distributed as long as you're not fully clothed. Perfume was not designed to interact with inert materials. Yes, perfume can be sprayed on clothing to enjoy notes that would otherwise evolve and disappear on the skin but you also run the risk of staining clothing by spraying perfume directly on them. I personally don't recommend the cloud method application type because there is just as much perfume that ends up on the floor and not enough on your body when it will develop. There are two good reasons to spritz perfume. First, it's a good way to apply fragrance if you will be in close quarters with other people. Second, if you are with people that may react negatively to even the littlest bit of over-application of a fragrance.
There are a few fragrance manufactures that offer many skin care and bath products that are scented with the same fragrance as their fragrance lines. This usually gives you a fuller scent and sillage. Layering is a benefit if you are completely satisfied with those products. More and more people are purchasing fragrance free products that they are happy which will not interfere with their fragrance. The downfall here is, not everyone loves the other products in a manufactures line.
The pulse point method is probably the most common practice for fragrance application. Depending on your skin type, dry or oily, fragrances can react differently depending on the point of application. Some people like to spray the wrist. I find that this is probably the first place scent leaves the skin. Inside the elbow can also work for some people but I find that if you are wearing long sleeves, the fragrance will be rubbed off with the normal action of arm movement. The most successful locations for the pulse point method are the neck and chest. These areas might give you the best longevity and sillage. These two areas of the body are generally very warm and scent will be held very well. Wearing fragrances on the chest will also provide the wearer the added benefit of catching a whiff from time to time.