A perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and other ingredients. It is usually in liquid form, which is applied to the body or objects, such as food and clothing. Perfumes are used for both beauty and hygiene. They can also be used to mask unpleasant body odors. However, in small amounts, perfume can cause allergic contact dermatitis. This type of hypersensitivity reaction may develop after several exposures.
Today, perfumes are created in laboratories, using synthetic chemicals and aromatics. These chemical compounds can be produced at low costs. But the process can be complex and challenging to get the right scent. Many fragrances contain aspects of many different groups and families.
The perfume making process involves collecting ingredients, blending them, and aging them. Some ingredients come from plants, while others come from animal secretions. Some people still use traditional herbal methods for everyday use.
A perfume is composed of three main structural parts: the top, middle, and base notes. Each note is influenced by the other two. Top notes typically have a strong, fresh scent. Middle notes are deeper and more subtle. Base notes are a lingering, long-lasting aroma.
In the ancient world, perfumes were crafted by collecting essential oils from plants. These were then mixed with liquids for religious and ceremonial purposes. Essential oils are extracted through maceration, steam distillation, or enfleurage. When used in the formulation of perfumes, they are usually diluted with alcohol.
During the seventeenth century, the perfume industry experienced a boom. During the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I, fragrances were used in all public places. Even today, they are used for air fresheners. As a result, they can cause environmental problems.
There are dozens of different kinds of perfume. Some are based on synthetic ingredients, while others are a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients. Natural ingredients can include herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Others, such as linalool, are naturally occurring.
Several ancient perfume making techniques are still used by popular perfume brands. The most common perfume making technique is distillation. For example, the French perfumer Houbigant used the method in 1884 to create Fougere Royale.
Similarly, the Arab chemist Al-Kindi described the processes of perfume-making in his Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations. He listed more than 100 recipes and the equipment used to create perfumes.
Fragrances are categorized by the concentration of their aromatic compounds. Five major categories are Floral, Woody, Aquatic, Modern Oceanic, and Aromatic Fougere. All of these are divided into subgroups.
Top notes are light molecules and often comprise citrus fruit and herbs. Middle notes are more subtle and are influenced by other aromatics. Lastly, base notes are the final stage of the perfume. Most perfumes have three distinct notes.
A perfume is generally perceived 30 minutes after application. Depending on the skin and the type of skin, it may take longer for the scent to be detected. If the person wearing the perfume has an oily skin, the scent might last longer.