In the nineteenth century, wearing perfume was seen as ungendered, but men wore it equally. The deodorizing drive led to the end of perfume. Men and women became obsessed with reducing unpleasant smells, while the germ theory promoted an unfavorable view of the body odor. Perfume was then categorized according to gender, with floral scents considered to be more feminine and sharp, woody aromas considered to be more masculine.
In the Middle Ages, the art of perfumery was first practiced by the Egyptians, and it spread throughout Europe. King Louis XIV, whose name means “perfume king,” had a floral pavilion in his court, and dried flowers were put in bowls around the palace. Royal guests were bathed in rose petals or goat’s milk, and the royals would often douse their visitors in fragrance. Eventually, perfumery became a huge business in France, and Grasse was the country’s leading perfume producer.
Modern perfumes contain anywhere from ten to eight hundred ingredients. These include essential oils from aromatic plants and synthetic compounds classified by structural groups. Thousands of ingredients are used to create the scents in perfumes, with the formula being closely guarded. The perfume industry uses thousands of different ingredients, including synthetic chemicals, alcohol, petrochemicals, coal tar, and water. The fragrance oil is then dissolved in solvents, which enhance the perfume’s perceived strength and stability. Some perfumes can contain over 800 ingredients, and the process may take several years to complete.
In general, perfumes are created to create three distinct scents – top, middle, and base. Perfume oil concentrations are proportional to the scent of the fragrance. In some cases, perfumes are diluted with water, while others are blended with alcohol. Most perfumes consist of three notes: top, heart, and base. The top note is the most powerful and produces the most immediate impression. The middle note gradually emerges over time before the top note is dispersed.
There are also different types of perfume, which are categorized according to the aromatic content. The most common is eau de cologne, which contains between three and eight percent of aromatic compounds. It originated in Cologne, Germany, where Johann Maria Farina mixed it for the first time. The fragrance quickly gained popularity among royalty. As word spread, local pharmacies and apothecaries started producing variants of eau de cologne.
Sillage is another important factor when choosing a perfume. Sillage refers to the amount of fragrance that extends from the body to the surroundings. The best-known perfumes are those that last the longest and are diluted in ethanol. Pure perfumes tend to be dense in the air and can almost taste. They can transfer the fragrance to clothing, clothes, and even people. The resulting scent is a mixture of natural oils and synthetic ingredients.
There are also synthetic and natural aromas that mimic natural fragrances. They differ in cost and composition, as the former is more expensive than the latter. Moreover, they have different effects on the body. Some of these synthetic fragrances are similar to natural scents, but are diluted and stabilized with alcohol, which helps control the concentration and duration of the fragrance. Some synthetic fragrances are considered novel, and are very unique in their own right. They can also be expensive compared to their natural counterparts.