What Is Fragrance?


Fragrance is the term used to describe a combination of various natural and/or synthetic aromatic materials that creates a definite odor effect. It can be combined to form a perfume, cologne or body spray. In the case of a fragrance, the word “fragrance” is often used to refer to all of the individual raw materials and compounds that go into the product and are not necessarily listed on the ingredient list. Fragrance includes essential oils, extracts and chemicals as well as many other raw materials. It is possible for a single fragrance to have several hundred components.

The raw material that gives the fragrance its initial impression on the wearer. It may be natural (such as citrus peels or herbs) or artificial (methyl acetate or propionic aldehydes to emphasize the first “fruity” impression of a cologne).

A perfumer’s ability to combine different raw materials and create a balanced complex that develops an accord. Accord is achieved when the components of the fragrance blend into a unified impression that can be described and classified as one whole – an analogous process to music composition. The concept of accord is a central part of perfumery and the art of creating fragrance.

An aromatic extract of a natural plant material that has been processed by enfleurage, alcohol extraction or steam distillation. An important raw material for perfume because it provides a fresh and crisp impression, it is used as a top note in colognes and can act as an olfactory bridge in complex perfumes.

A family of scents that are often perceived as feminine and delicate. They contain ingredients such as jasmine, rose and lily of the valley and include a wide variety of subfamilies. A very common and widely used group of notes. The olfactory impression of earth, grass and roots, especially those of the iris family (i.e., orris oil).

The olfactory impression of green leaves, bark, wood and other plant materials. This is a very broad and diverse group of scents that also contains a number of key natural and synthetic ingredients, such as pine and cedar oils.

A group of fragrance notes that is generally seen as warm and woody. They usually feature spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and bay and may include woods like sandalwood and patchouli.

Two studies in the 1980’s reported that male job applicants exhibited negative bias against female candidates who wore perfume. This was most pronounced when the perfumes were very strong. Other research has shown that women can be biased against men who wear excessive amounts of fragrance, even if it is subtle, because the smell can mask a natural body odor that indicates genetic compatibility. The International Fragrance Association and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials set voluntary standards for chemicals in a fragrance. These are known as the IFRA and RIFM regulations.