Perfume is one of the most fascinating inventions of mankind, a mixture of fragrant essential oils or fragrances, fixatives and solvents, in liquid form, used to give the human body, animals, food, objects and living spaces an agreeable scent.
A perfume is made of a base (usually alcohol) and a fragrance compound, such as an essential oil, absolute or synthetic. The combination of the two is what makes a perfume unique and special.
The most common type of base is ethyl alcohol, which evaporates quickly on the skin. Others include benzyl benzoate, coumarin, beeswax or phthalates.
There are many types of fragrance compounds, some of which are based on the chemistry of certain plants and flowers, and some of which are simply added to an already-existing perfume to create a new scent. In general, most perfumes contain one or more of these fragrance compounds, usually in varying concentrations.
These aromas are classified according to their properties and effects on the sense of smell. For instance, some fragrances are categorized as floral or fruity, while others belong to other families.
Single Floral and Floral Bouquet: This traditional category is characterized by flower-like and fruity fragrances that may be fresh, powdery or smoky. It contains the flowers of roses, jasmines, osmanthus, lilies, and many other species.
Bright Floral: This family is a little more modern, with scents like cut grass or crushed green leaf and cucumber-like flavors. It includes the floral scents of lilies, roses and jasmine but also some woody, oriental or ozonic fragrances.
Green: This group is a bit more masculine and less sweet than the Bright Floral family, and it has more woody and ozonic characteristics. It is characterized by green grass and cucumber-like scents, but also some aromatic elements such as calone.
Aquatic, Oceanic and Ozonic: This family is characterized by clean scents that are reminiscent of the sea or water. It includes calone, which was discovered in 1966 and is often used to accent floral, oriental and woody fragrances.
Orchids: These are not usually directly used for perfumes, but they are a main source of odorants that are sometimes included in a perfume. Orchids contain various compounds, such as terpenes and salicylates, which are a common component of many different types of scents.
Animal extract: Some perfumes contain extract from animals, such as musk or ambergris, to add depth to the scent. Other substances such as coal, coal tar or petroleum are also used to produce perfumes, as are synthetic chemicals.
Synthetic Aromatics: Some modern perfumes use synthetic ingredients to provide aromas that are not found naturally, such as calone or linalool. These are typically inexpensive to synthesize and impart a variety of fragrances, from fresh ozonous metallic marine scents to a soft, woody amber.
It should be remembered that most perfumes are volatile oils, so they should not be sprayed on exposed parts such as the forehead or underarms and should not be rubbed on hair or sensitive skin. Some long-wave ultraviolet rays can react with the volatile oils, causing a photochemical reaction and eventually skin inflammation.