There’s a lot to consider – and, ultimately, a lot to get wrong – when looking for a perfume that’s tailor-made for you, from top perfume notes to woody bases and fragrance types. Many experts believe that if you understand the fundamentals of fragrance, you’ll be one step closer to finding a scent you’ll love the first time you try it.
Understanding the various fragrance categories and the perfume notes that exist within them is one of the first and most important elements. Notes are a way of describing the components that make up each element of perfume, and they are divided into three categories: top, heart, and base.
Recognizing Fragrance Notes
The top notes of a perfume are made up of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly but appear right after spraying a perfume, so they’re crucial for making an initial impression.
Meanwhile, the heart or middle notes appear shortly after the top notes have faded and formed the perfume’s main body; these are usually a little more mellow and last longer.
Finally, base notes introduce depth and solidity to perfume by forming the main body. These aren’t usually detectable until 30 minutes or so after application, but depending on their potency, they can last up to 24 hours.
To create a unique and complex formulation, each perfume uses the most precious and rare ingredients in its top, middle, and base notes. Furthermore, the perfumes are all sold in pairs and can be worn together or separately. “I have a passion for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, always ensuring each perfume pair is unique,” one perfume brand founder said.
The five main families are Floral, Oriental, Fresh, Fougère, and Woody.
The latest addictive arts collection is all about capturing hedonism’s rush and thrill. “Each perfume is created to transport the wearer on a one-of-a-kind journey through scent pharmacology – something completely new with a true luxury fragrance experience at its core,” says.
Categories of Fragrance
The different fragrance types that all perfumeries use to characterize their creations are the next area to master. The five main families are floral, oriental, fresh, fougère, and woody, with each having its sub-families.
This method simplifies the relationship between specific perfume notes and makes it much easier to classify perfume types.
There are four distinct types of oriental fragrances: floral oriental, soft oriental, oriental, and woody oriental. Each sub-family has its spin on the theme, but they’re all associated with rich, sensual scents with a warming eastern influence.
A soft oriental, for example, contains notes of smooth carnation, incense, and spices, whereas a woody oriental contains notes of vanilla, musk, and cardamom, which are more sensual.
Base notes, which include euphoric (floral oriental) and hypnotic (spicy amber oriental), form the main body of a perfume and will take your senses on a journey. Rich and heady florals are at the heart of euphoric, which is layered with darker oakwood notes and finished with sandalwood, musk, and sweet vanilla. This is a perfume of hedonistic excess.
The hypnotic note is a noble and addictive one. Smoky incense, pink pepper, elemi, bergamot, and a dying spark of fiery ginger to rich clove, black cherry, and cinnamon – and those are just the base notes.
If you enjoy the fresh and romantic scents of roses, jasmine, lilies, and frangipani, your preferences are most likely in the floral family (soft florals, floral, soft florals, and floral oriental), which is known for light and feminine perfumes that uplift the spirit.
Woody fragrances, which include the sub-families wood, mossy woods, and dry woods, are frequently used to create unisex or less overtly feminine scents.
Wood, which is made up of deeper notes like amber, cedar, and sandalwood, evokes a sense of mystery, making it ideal for evenings when a stronger scent is required.
The citrus, green, and water sub-families make up the fresh fragrance family, which is known for its zesty, refreshing, and effervescent qualities. Fresh notes, such as freshly cut grass, sea spray, and crushed green leaves, will energise you and make you feel ready for anything.
It’s also great for balancing or pairing with fruity notes that might be too sweet or overpowering otherwise. It combines kaffir lime leaf and violet leaf with apple for a decadent way to wear a green oriental.
Fougère is the last element in the fragrance family tree, containing elements from all four other families. A Fougère fragrance, which means “fern” in French, typically contains notes of lavender, geranium, vetiver, bergamot, oakmoss, and coumarin to create a traditionally more masculine or unisex scent.
Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, and Parfum are all terms that describe the concentration of a fragrance. These are frequently relied upon to estimate how much perfume is diluted in alcohol within the bottle, and thus how strong or long-lasting it is. The truth is that the difference in perfume strength can refer to entirely different compositions, where perfumers reshape a scent across its many concentrations to create entirely different experiences.
Perfume Strengths and see what they’re all about
Cologne eau de toilette
We’re used to thinking of Eau de Cologne as a specific type of fragrance, with a sharp blend of hesperidic notes, herbs, florals, and musks, but did you know that it’s also a specific concentration of fragrance? An EdC is a perfume that contains between 2 and 5% perfume, but it can also refer to a fragrance that is presented in a lighter style.
So, in addition to your 4711, a very traditional Eau de Cologne, you can enjoy something lighter and more modern like Bulgari’s Eau Parfumee Au The Vert. By defining the green tea accord, which has since become so prevalent in modern fragrances, this iconic tea cologne changed the face of perfumery. This is the perfect example of how an Eau de Cologne can bring levity and simplicity to a complex blend of ingredients – spritz it liberally throughout the day and enjoy refreshing, light green tea all day.
Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum are two different types of fragrances
You’re probably familiar with the terms Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum, and you’ve probably been told that there’s a big difference between the two. The truth is that there is… and that there isn’t much of a difference between EdTs and EdPs. Yes, EdTs are typically lighter (7-12 percent perfume) than EdPs (12-20 percent), and thus have a longer-lasting effect. However, the distinction can lead to a shift in the emphasis placed on the many distinct nuances of a fragrance’s signature.
However, a brand may choose to create completely different compositions for the EdT and EdP concentrations of the same fragrance, each highlighting different aspects of the perfume’s personality. Alien by Mugler is a good example of this, as it was originally launched as an Eau de Parfum with a heady, syrupy jasmine note contrasted by blond woods. It’s big, bold, and brassy, with an intergalactic-sized trail. The Eau de Toilette, which debuted a few years later, rebalances the equation slightly, with a lighter sillage, yes, but also a focus on freshly cut jasmine petals shimmering with citrus dew. Two different scent concentrations result in two completely different experiences.
eau de parfum
The Parfum (also known as ‘Pure Parfum,’ ‘Extrait,’ or ‘Extrait de Parfum’) is the strongest of all perfume strengths. A Pure Parfum is not a pure perfume compound in a bottle, despite the name, because that would be far too dense and flat when sniffed. Alcohol gives the perfume room to breathe, and a Parfum concentration is usually around 20-30%, resulting in a wonderful richness. The main difference between parfums and other fragrances is that parfums are denser and wear closer to the skin. A parfum is a more personal type of perfume that is often dabbed on, creating a personal experience that is best enjoyed by the person wearing it or those fortunate enough to get close to them.
Perfumers will create a new perfume composition for the Parfum concentration, similar to Eau de Parfums and Eau de Toilettes. Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire is one of my favorite perfumes. In the Parfum, what was a fizzy rendition of black cherry and rose in the Eau de Parfum and an exuberant festival berries and musk in the Eau de Toilette transforms into the pure cherry pie. Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire Parfum is a gourmand take on Guerlain’s little black dress that celebrates the concept of wealth. You’ll be as tasty as cherry pie if you wear it!