Why do perfumes smell different on different people?
Your own body chemistry affects how different perfume 'notes' react on your skin and therefore smell. Anything that affects the "natural" smell of your skin, such as stress, hormonal changes, your current diet or medications, your skin's PH level, might change how a perfume smells on you.
Why do some fragrances seem to last much longer than others?
Some fragrance ingredients simply last longer than others – woody notes, for instance, can be smelt on the skin days after the perfume has been used, whereas light citrus oils evaporate quickly and won't be discernable after a few hours. A perfume is made with many different ingredients and so it is that combination that determines how long it will actually last, allied to the concentration of perfume used – the more concentrated a perfume, the longer it will last (see below, "what is the difference between an EDP and EDT").
To an extent this question also depends on the user. People with dry skin usually find their fragrance holding time shorter than those with oily skin because oily skin has more natural moisture to hold in the fragrance. PH levels (the amount of acidity in our skin) also varies slightly from person to person. Our individual levels of PH will determine how each ingredient in a fragrance will react.
Finally, your nose can develop scent fatigue with certain scent notes if it smells them repeatedly, the scent receptors can become overloaded and you just don't register this scent after a while. So you may think that your perfume has disappeared but it may in fact still be smellable by others.
How do I make my fragrance last longer?
Fragrance lasts longer on some people than on others because of differences in our skin (oily or dry) and in our PH levels. To achieve a longer effect, try layering your fragrance. Using a fragrance bath gel, then a moisturizer or powder, and then a perfume - Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum or Eau de Cologne - will usually have a longer lasting effect. Also, apply your fragrance low on the body, as well as behind your ears and on your neck, so that the scent rises and you won't lose it as quickly. A light spray on the hair can last all day.
How long can I keep my fragrance stored?
Fragrances don't last forever, but if you keep the bottle in a cool, dry, dark place you will prolong its scent. Heat and light can destroy a fragrance so keep it in particular away from sunlight. Fragrances usually last at least 3 years from the date they were manufactured.
What is the difference between perfumes such as Eau de Cologne, Eau de Parfum ( EDP) and Eau de Toilette ( EDT)?
These terms refer to the strength of the fragrance, or more specifically, to how much alcohol and/or water has been added to the fragrance oils (alcohol is used to help the scent evaporate and be smelt). Parfum (generally the most concentrated form you can buy) has 15-25% perfume oil dissolved in alcohol. Any mixture with a lower proportion of oil to alcohol/water is called an "eau" (French for water).
Eau Fraiche (Usually 3% or less perfume oil in alcohol/water)
Eau de Cologne (2 – 5% perfume oil)
Eau de Toilette (4 – 10% perfume oil)
Eau de Parfum (8 – 15% perfume oil)
Soie de Parfum (15 – 18% perfume oil)
PARFUM or Perfume (15 – 25% — also sometimes referred to as extract or extrait)
Perfume Oil (15-30% perfume oil in an oil rather than alcohol base)
Does perfume need special handling?
Fragrances should be kept away from excessive heat or cold, and to avoid evaporation, the cap must be tightly closed to maintain fragrance integrity. Also, do not expose the fragrance for any length of time to sunlight.
What are perfumes made from?
Perfumes are made from a mixture of oils, which are derived from natural ingredients or else synthesized chemically, and alcohol and water which dilute the oils and allow them to evaporate.
Essential oils are volatile, fragrant liquids extracted from plant leaves, bark, wood, stems, flowers, seeds, buds, roots, resins and petals, through a variety of methods. Steam distillation is often used, but there are many other methods including expression (squeezing), maceration (soaking in a solvent), enfleurage (extraction via fatty materials).
Synthetic oils are much used nowadays also. Modern chemistry can duplicate almost exactly the chemical makeup of any essential oil and allow the manufacture of that oil without any of the difficulties caused by growing and harvesting of natural materials. In addition, oils that once were derived from animals (musk being a good example, which is naturally derived from the musk deer) can be replicated without any cruelty or effect on animals (all "animal" notes in our perfumes are synthetic). Finally, chemistry can produce notes which don't actually exist in nature but which smell wonderful. The smell of the sea, for example, can be suggested by some synthetic perfume ingredients in a way that just can't be captured naturally.
What are top, middle and base notes?
Because we don't have many words to describe smells, we borrow from other senses, e.g. hearing (music) and sight (painting) and thus use the word "note" to describe a particular scent and "palette" to describe the array of scents at a perfumer's disposal. Perfumes are said to be divided up into three main notes: "top (or head)" , "middle (or heart)" and "base (or soul)" notes.
Top notes provide the first scent impression of a fragrance once it has been applied to the skin. They are usually lighter, more volatile aromas that evaporate readily, like fruity and citrus oils such as lemon, bergamot and orange. Their scent usually lingers for between 5 and 30 minutes.
Middle notes, sometimes referred to as "heart notes", make up the body of the perfume. They may be evident from the start, but will usually take 10-30 minutes to fully develop on the skin. They are the notes that classify the fragrance family (floral, oriental, chypre, etc, see below) and are the most recognizable part of the fragrance. These would include most of the floral scents, e.g. rose, lavender.
Base Notes are those with the greatest molecular weight. They last the longest, and are also important as fixatives, that is, they help slow down the evaporation rates of the lighter notes, giving the fragrance holding power. Common base notes include oakmoss, patchouli, woods, musk and vanilla.
What are fragrance families?
Perfumes are often grouped into families to help people understand what type of scent they might like. There are many classification systems in use, but many list 7 major families:
Greens, Florals, Aldehydics, Chypre, Oriental, Fougère & Tobacco/Leather.
Greens: a fresh, sharp, "outdoors" perfume made from blending herbs, mosses, ferns and citrus notes; Our "Inis – the energy of the sea" fragrance is an example, although it has a lot of floral attributes as well.
Florals: the most common perfume family, made mainly from floral oils. Our "Connemara" perfume is a good example.
Aldehidics: this is a category which came into being with the development of synthetic fragrance ingredients called aldehydes, which have a rich, waxy smell and give a sophisticated and modern feel.
Chypre: the word "chypre" is French for Cyprus, the Mediterranean island, which was famous for a particular type of perfume with a floral and green/citrus mix. Our "Innisfree" perfume would be a good example.
Oriental: this is a family of exotic and heavy/spicy perfumes made from such exotic ingredients as musk, vanilla and sandalwood. Our "Inis Moonlight" perfume is an example, but it is a light, "watery" Oriental and not at all heavy.
Fougère: this is the French for "fern" and as this suggests is a family of fresh, mossy, green fragrances, often found in men's fragrances. Our "Patrick" Cologne would be a good example.
Tobacco/Leather: perfumes in this family, as the name suggests, are reminiscent of tobacco and leather and are made from woody and spicy rich ingredients, mainly for men.
How long can I keep my fragrance stored?
Fragrances don't last forever. There are certain precautions though that will ensure the quality of the fragrance. Keep the bottle in a dry, dark place. Heat can also destroy a fragrance so keep it from extreme temperatures. Fragrances usually last 3 years from the date they were manufactured.