What is Fragrance?


Fragrance is a pleasant-smelling liquid which people put on their bodies to make themselves smell nice. It is made from a mixture of various scent chemicals, usually including essential oils and synthetic perfume chemicals. Some people have allergies to particular scents and some use odor-neutralizing soap or body lotion when they want to avoid certain smells. Several companies produce and market fragrances, which can be found in almost any store that sells cosmetics. Some people also make their own homemade perfume.

The word fragrance (also perfume, scent, and redolence) suggests a mixture of sweet or pleasing odors, especially those of flowers or other growing things. Perfume is a specific type of fragrance, but the term fragnance can also be used for other kinds of scented products such as soaps and lotions. Perfume can be made from natural ingredients or synthesized in laboratories using various chemical compounds. It is sometimes referred to as parfum in Europe and cologne in the United States, but it can contain from tens to hundreds of chemicals, so it is more generically referred to as “fragrance” on an ingredient list.

There is a wide range of perfumes available, and the different types can be grouped into scent families. The Fragrance Wheel, invented by a perfumer, helps to classify the scents into groups that share similar olfactory characteristics. The families and subfamilies that are side-by-side on the wheel are the closest in olfactory chemistry, and those that are further apart are less related.

Scent molecules are often classified into head, middle, and base notes. Head notes are the most noticeable at first, but they quickly evaporate and are largely replaced by middle notes and base notes. Middle and base notes combine to form the main scent that lasts for at least 30 minutes after the perfume has been applied. The odors of a perfume are also often described as being mellow, fresh, woody, or spicy.

In the late eighteenth century, perfume became a social symbol of status. Men who wanted to appear prestigious would wear eau de cologne and women who sought to be considered desirable would dress in perfume. The scents of aristocracy were rich, luxurious, and flowery; middle-class and working class people typically wore more musky scents such as vanilla or sandalwood.

Fragrance chemicals can cause a variety of negative reactions, including dermatitis, headaches, and asthma, as well as some behavioral changes such as depression and anxiety. Many fragrance chemicals are also known carcinogens. There is no single safe amount to consume of perfume, so consumers should always read the ingredient lists on products before buying. In the US, a product that says “fragrance” or “parfum” on its label is usually a mixture of at least ten chemicals, and in Europe it is more likely to be made up of about 50 ingredients. Some consumer organizations have developed scoring systems, such as Skin Deep, that help consumers determine whether a product is safe to use.