Fragrance is a mixture of hundreds of different chemicals used to make personal and home care products. Many of these chemicals have been linked to health problems, including cancer and birth defects. Others have been linked to hormonal disruption. Fragrance chemicals are also widely used in air fresheners and make-up. Fragrance chemicals also have the potential to mask natural smells.
Most perfumes start as pure perfume oils and are then diluted with water or alcohol. The percentage of oil in these products varies considerably, from as little as three to twenty percent. For example, cologne contains three to five percent oil, while eau de toilette contains 60 to eighty percent alcohol and twenty percent water. After dilution, perfume oils are ready to age.
In contrast, synthetic perfumes are created in laboratories and have a wide range of synthetic ingredients. These products can mimic the fragrance of natural oils, but are more difficult to create. Perfumes are usually divided into three structural components, called head, middle, and base notes, each of which is important to the perception of each of the other notes. The top note, composed of small molecules, has the most noticeable and fresh scent. Common top notes include herbs and citrus fruits.
Most modern perfumes contain synthetic odorants, including linalool and coumarin. These compounds are used as an alternative source for the compounds found in nature. The synthetics also enhance the longevity of a perfume, which is one of the main reasons for their use in personal care products. The scent of a fragrance can elicit emotions and feelings from consumers.
The first step in making a perfume is collecting raw materials, such as herbs or flowers. Once the raw materials are collected, they are subjected to various processes to extract the scents. Some raw materials cannot survive distillation, but others can. Some of these raw materials are infused into wax or embedded into fabric.
Fragrances are used for many different purposes, from sensuality to relaxation. The use of fragrance has been documented since ancient civilizations. For example, the Hungarians began producing perfume in 1370. Then the art of perfumery flourished during the Renaissance in Italy. Rene the Florentine, the personal perfumer of Catherine de’ Medici, brought these refined techniques to France. His personal perfumery studio was linked to Catherine de’ Medici’s apartments.
Fragrances have been classified into five main categories. Fresh fragrances are those with citrus or sea scents, while the Gourmand fragrances feature light florals and exotic fruit scents. These fragrances are fresh and invigorating, and can be very refreshing. They can be used in perfumes for both men and women.