Fragrances are odorous compounds used to scent the human body, animals, food, objects, and living spaces. They may be natural or synthetic.
Scents are made from a combination of essential oils, fragrance compounds, fixatives and solvents, and can be in liquid or solid form. The most common form is a perfume.
Perfume refers to a mixture of fragrance molecules, which are typically diluted in alcohol and water. Generally, the higher concentration of a perfume, the longer it lasts.
The word perfume comes from the Greek words for “scent” and “floral.” Flowers or other growing things give off their own distinctive smells.
There are a few types of perfume, including single florals, floral bouquets and woody perfumes. Many perfumes also contain other fragrances, such as citrus.
Top notes, middle notes and base notes:
The top note is the first scent that a person detects on application of a perfume and is a very important part of selling a perfume. The top notes evaporate quickly and are usually composed of light, airy molecules.
Middle notes are the next scents that a person detects on application of perfume. These are composed of heavier, more complex molecules. These are often called heart notes and are typically more pleasant with time.
A natural fragrance is a mixture of fragrance molecules, which are either extracted from a plant, flower or fruit by a process known as extraction, or produced artificially using chemical synthesis. It can vary in composition from supplier to supplier depending on when, where and how the ingredients are harvested, processed, and extracted.
A synthetic fragrance is a chemical perfume, which is made in laboratories. It can be a pure or mixed aroma, and is usually more expensive than its natural counterparts due to the cost of synthesis.
These fragrances are a mix of different chemical compounds to create the desired effect, and they can range from delicate to overpowering in strength. They can be formulated into perfumes, lotions, soaps, candles, and other consumer products.
They are also a major component of cleaning and personal care products, such as laundry detergents, softeners, and fragranced cleaners. They can irritate the skin, cause headaches, eye and nose irritation, nausea and other respiratory symptoms. They can even be a source of exposure to toxic chemicals, such as phthalates.
Safe and effective fragrances:
A good fragrance should be based on high quality ingredients, ideally natural, that are not harmful to the health of people or the environment. Luckily, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) have standards to help ensure that all fragrances are safe.
For over 50 years, IFRA and RIFM have worked to develop safety profiles for chemicals in fragrances and their uses. IFRA sets voluntary standards for the chemicals found in fragrances, while RIFM tests them to ensure that they are not harmful to humans.
Despite all the work done to make fragrances safer, it is still necessary to be aware of the toxicity of these chemicals. The most common side effects of fragrances are headaches, eye and nose irritation, nausea, and loss of coordination. Other side effects include breathing problems, memory impairment, and endocrine disruption.