What Is Perfume?

Perfume is a type of fragrance that can be worn to give a person a pleasant scent. It is a combination of oil, alcohol, and other chemicals that are combined to produce a distinctive smell that can be used to attract people or make them more attractive. Perfume is also called parfum or eau de toilette and it comes in many different concentrations. There are both natural and synthetic perfumes. Some of the most popular include lavender, citrus, vanilla, and musk. Some perfumes can last for hours or even days and can be worn on the neck, wrists, arms, or legs.

The earliest known use of perfume dates back to ancient times and the art of creating scents has been popular throughout history. References to perfume materials and formulas have been found in the writings of the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, and Romans. The first liquid perfumes were made by combining oils with crushed flowers, herbs, roots, or other natural substances. The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) developed the process of distilling oils, which greatly improved perfume making and is still used today.

By the early modern period, perfume had become a symbol of wealth and social standing and men often carried a small bottle with them to use on their journeys or when meeting important persons. In contrast, women of modest means typically wore only a light, clean-smelling scented powder or soap. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the once prestigious and refined practice of wearing perfume was considered rather tacky and only prostitutes and other low-class people continued this habit.

Modern perfumes are usually made of a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients. Natural elements are primarily from flower, fruit, root or vegetable extracts and can also include animal odors from musk, whales, and beaver. The chemical properties of natural products can be mimicked using synthetic compounds, which has greatly expanded the range of perfumes available and made them more affordable for most people.

The highest perfume concentration is called Parfum and it is usually an alcoholic solution containing 20 to 50 percent perfume compounds. Eau de parfum is a slightly less concentrated version that has an average of 10-25 percent perfume compounds and eau de toilette or cologne contains 2 to 6 percent. Other types of perfume include bath oils, skin perfumes, and aftershave lotions.

Fragrance is the generic name for any kind of odor-enhancing product and can include perfumes, colognes, body mists, bath oils, and even some hair sprays. Most perfumes are made with a mixture of oils and other compounds but some are purely synthetic and contain no natural components at all. Most perfumes are listed as a proprietary blend on the label and their composition is kept secret. For this reason, these types of products are not subject to the same safety laws as other cosmetics and food. However, these kinds of products are regulated in some countries and may not be sold to children.