You may already have a signature scent, or you may already know exactly what you like when it comes to fragrances…but, are you willing to step out of your perfume comfort zone and try something new? Whether you are a perfume aficionado or just starting to explore the world of fragrance and don’t know where to begin, understanding the language of perfume can help you understand your unique palette, and may open your “nose’ to something completely new and wonderful!
Fragrances are alcohol based and designed in specific strengths, eau de toilette, eau de parfum and colognes. These industry generic descriptions apply to the percentages of ingredients to alcohol ratio and give an indication to how long the scent will last on the skin.
EDTs, EDPs and Colognes
Eau de Parfums (EDP) contain between 12% and 18% perfume oil. On application, the top notes are released, but amazingly, over 20- 30% of the fragrance will remain noticeable up to 18/24 hours later. If you want a fragrance that lasts, this is the type of formulation to buy. It is best to apply EaudeParfum where the blood beats closest to the skin – pulse points, wrists, collarbone, décolleté, throat, inner thighs, and around the ankles. Tip: Avoid applying an Eau de Parfum behind the ears as there are glands there which can affect the settling of the scent.
Eau de Toilettes (EDT) contain the same ingredients as Eau de Parfums, but the fragrance level is lower. The perfume oil content is between 8% to 10%. Eau de Toilettes have a lighter scent that does not last as long, they were originally designed as refreshing body splashes to help people wake up, as part of their morning toilette.
Colognes are traditionally a more masculine product, although this is changing and they are now widely used by women. Colognes are similar in composition to Eau de Parfums and Eau de Toilettes and have a fragrance level between 8% and 10%. While these are generally agreed upon concentrations, some perfume houses will sometimes adjust the amounts of fragrance oils for certain notes in their EDT andEDP versions, causing the two concentrations to smell different instead of just stronger or weaker.
Perfumers instinctively understand the importance of harmony within fragrance and consider choosing the right notes to create subtle shifts and flow in the structure of accords and compositions. Each scent meets the skin and interacts with heat and body chemistry, creating a marriage between the fragrance notes and the wearer. This marriage develop as the notes evaporate or “drydown”. The movement of evaporation should be seamless and smooth as the scent dissipates. Most fragrances are structured around a classic triangle or pyramid, from top to bottom – Head, Heart and Base.
Structure: A fragrance triangle used to describe the composition from top to middle to bottom.
Accords: A combination of two or more different materials that create a novel effect that smells very different from the materials experienced on their own.
Head Notes – These are small, lighter molecules designed to create an initial impression. They are vital to fragrance, setting the scene and drawing us in. They are generally citrus and green notes and can include lemon, lime, neroli, bergamot, grapefruit, lavender, thyme & basil. Heart Notes – These larger, more rounded notes follow the head notes and can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour to develop. Heart notes are varied and may include white flowers, spices, woods, resins and grasses. Base Notes – These are the heaviest, fattest molecules, building solidity, depth and comfort into the fragrance. They are often the notes that clients are attracted to. They evaporate more slowly, generally appearing only 30 minutes after application. Base notes can include various woods, resins, balms, oakmoss, vanilla, amber and musk.
Citrus: Each note in this family is primarily composed of citrus scents such as bergamot, lemon, orange, tangerine and grapefruit, to which other orange- tree elements (orange blossoms, petite grain or neroli oil) have been added.
Floral: This note represents a large number of the feminine creations. Floral fragrances use numerous essences such as rose, jasmine, violet and freesia.
Oriental: Oriental notes in fragrance stand out because of their unique blend of warmth and sensuality. They draw their richness from heady substances like musk, vanilla and precious woods, often associated with exotic floral and spicy scents.
Spicy: Spices express themselves in a powerful, sparkling and aphrodisiac manner. Spicy perfumes are mysterious, captivating and bewitching!
Woody: Notes of amber, woods, vanilla, spices and musks bring depth to a fragrance. The most commonly used notes in woody fragrances are cedarwood, sandalwood, oakmoss, patchouli and vetiver.
Now that you know the basics of perfume, think about the scents that are most appealing to you and remember, that the joy of discovering perfume is not in amassing dozens of bottles on your dressing table, it’s in smelling and taking pleasure in fragrance -a deeply personal experience, and falling in love with the world of perfume like we have at Etiket!