What Is Perfume?

Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents in liquid form that gives the human body, food, living spaces, or objects an agreeable smell. The word is derived from the Latin words perfumeria, which means “scent.” (1)

Perfume can be a powerful tool for making a first impression and leaving a lasting impression on others. It can evoke emotion, uplift or depress you and also trigger memories of a place or person. In addition, some types of perfume contain pheromones which can make you smell attractive to other people.

Fragrance is the combination of a variety of ingredients which creates a scent that can last for a very long time on your skin. Perfume can contain a mix of natural or synthetic ingredients depending on your personal preference and budget. Many natural perfumes contain a mix of different plant extracts and distilled essential oils such as flowers, herbs, grasses, spices, fruits, woods, roots, resins and animal secretions such as musk. However, natural perfumes can be expensive and difficult to source sustainably. This is why modern perfumes often use a blend of both natural and synthetic fragrances to achieve the desired results.

A perfume’s scent will evolve over the course of the day as it interacts with your unique body chemistry. This is because perfume contains different structural components called Top, Heart and Base notes. The top notes are what you can perceive immediately after applying the perfume. These are light molecules that evaporate quickly and usually consist of citrus, fruit and herb fragrances. The middle notes come in next and mellow as they blend with your skin’s chemistry. Finally, the base notes are the fragrance that lasts for the longest and is typically composed of wood, amber and musk fragrances.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when selecting a perfume is being prejudiced against a specific note. For example, some people are anosmic to musk which makes it nearly impossible for them to smell a perfume that contains this note. Therefore, you should never dismiss a perfume because you have had a bad experience with another type of fragrance that contained the same note.

Once you have narrowed down the selection of perfumes that appeal to you, you should evaluate them by their sillage and projection. Sillage is the amount of perfume that is left behind when you move or walk and projection is the intensity at which you can perceive the fragrance when someone walks past you. In general, lighter fragrances are better for daytime and more intense ones are best to wear at night. After that, it is all about your individual preferences and what you find uplifting, calming or seductive. With a little bit of knowledge, selecting the right perfume for you is easy! So, don’t be afraid to try something new. You might be surprised at what you end up liking! Good luck and enjoy your perfume!