Fragrance is one of the most ubiquitous chemicals, but the science behind it is largely unknown. While 4,000 different chemicals are known to be toxic, only about 800 have been tested for toxicity. Most fragrances are grouped with other chemicals and insecticides. But what is it? Here is a primer on fragnance and its possible hazards. A fragrance can be harmful if it has too many chemicals in it, or it can be harmless if it has too few.
In a 2003 study, psychologists from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Virginia used fragrance to gauge how perfume affects mood. Women chose scents that either improved their mood or matched their mood. Other factors influenced the choice of scents. The mood of the woman wearing the fragrance could also be a factor, and the person’s personality might play a role. A male subject wearing the scent of a sporty woman is likely to feel energized and energetic. Those wearing perfumes that smelled “sporty” would have a fresh, airy scent.
Other scents with a fruity or floral component include fresh water, lemon, lime, and other citrus fruits. A fragrance with this flavor profile can be considered a gourmand scent and evoke thoughts of sweet, fruity dishes and desserts. These are the most popular scents for men and women who want to feel more feminine, but if you’re not looking for a fruity fragrance, there’s a scent for you!
Modern perfumes can contain tens to hundreds of ingredients. The fragrances used in perfumes can contain essential oils extracted from natural aromatic plant extracts, synthetic aromatic chemicals, animal secretions, and other chemicals. The perfumes are usually made of at least 80 percent alcohol, 10 percent water, and 2 percent oil. They last several hours and develop their signature scent as the body’s temperature changes. The longer they last, the stronger the scent.
Perfumes have been shown to elicit pleasurable associations with the brain. The brain’s reward system also plays a role in the experience of fragrance, although the exact mechanism has not been studied. It’s believed that the pleasure we experience from fragrance is partially driven by associative learning, which is the process by which perfumes gain emotional significance. When this happens, the brain’s reward system is activated.
Perfumes contain three distinct notes, known as the top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The top notes, known as the head note, produce the most immediate impression of a perfume. These are made up of very light molecules and are evaporative, so they dissipate quickly. The middle notes, on the other hand, develop slowly over a period of time, and can appear anywhere from two minutes to one hour after application.