Fragrance is an odor or fragrance which is created using chemical compounds, both natural and synthetic. These chemicals are found in a wide range of consumer goods including hair care products, cleaning supplies, make-up, household cleaners and perfumes.
Perfume is a liquid mixture containing fragrant essential oils derived from plants and spices or synthetic aromatic compounds. These are typically diluted with alcohol and are used to create a scent. A perfume can be classified as an eau de parfum (EdP), extrait, EdT, or cologne and can be made for men or women.
A perfume contains 3 structural parts: head notes, middle notes, and base notes. Each note contributes a different type of scent to the overall fragrance. The head notes are light and fresh. The middle notes are more complex and provide a fuller and richer scent. The base notes are deep and lingering.
Generally speaking, a perfume is created through a process of collection and blending which involves extracting essential oils from plants and using a variety of techniques to bring the scent into the desired form. Some of these processes include evaporation, mixing, and distillation. A perfume can be bottled as a tincture, a solid, or a liquid.
The composition of a perfume is usually left to an expert in the field who is known as a “perfumer” or “nose” in the fragrance industry. The job of a perfumer is to formulate a fragrance which will be able to be sold and appeal to customers. The formulation of a fragrance is an art and a science, and the skills involved in this process can be highly specialized.
Many of the perfumers in the fragrance industry are trained to understand the chemistry behind creating a specific fragrance and can often work with chemists or scientists to create new and innovative products. They also have to ensure the fragrance is not harmful to the consumers who will be purchasing and wearing it.
Some of the chemicals used in the creation of perfumes and fragrances are carcinogens, teratogens, respiratory irritants, sensitizers, and neurotoxins that can cause headaches, eye and nose irritation, nausea, memory loss, and other health problems. Exposure to these chemicals can also result in respiratory illness and allergic reactions that can be difficult to treat.
For example, phthalates, which are used in most fragrances, have been linked in animal studies to disruption of hormones and even to the development of malformations of the penis and testes. These ingredients can also interfere with the functioning of the immune system and may cause allergies, asthma, and other chronic illnesses.
While fragrances are a vital part of our culture and society, the 4,000 chemicals used in their creation can be toxic to human health. These ingredients can be absorbed into the skin and into the lungs, where they can be breathed in and deposited into the bloodstream.
These harmful effects can be exacerbated by secondhand exposure to these chemicals. This is especially true for those who live in crowded homes and frequently use products containing fragrances such as candles, scented laundry detergents, and fabric softeners.