Types of Perfume Scents

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

We all love things that smell good. Our sense of smell affects our taste when eating, and can bring about forgotten memories. We spend a great deal of time and money creating things that smell good to ourselves and the opposite sex. We use deodorant, aftershave, scented soaps and perfume. However, very few of us really know what perfume is, how it is made or what the difference is between Parfum and Cologne.
  • Perfume is the most expensive of the type of fragrance one can find on the market today. Perfume is a mixture of alcohol, essential oils, fixative and aroma compounds. The essential oils are made by distilling flowers and plants such as roses, plants, grasses, orange blossoms and other fragrant botanicals.

    Fixatives bind all of the different fragrances together, and are found in things such as musk deer and balsams. The amount of alcohol used depends on how strong you want the perfume to be. If you want to create a milder perfume, you use more alcohol. If you want a stronger smelling perfume, you would use less alcohol.
The scent of a Perfume usually consists of three notes. The first one, or "top note", is made out of the most volatile fragrance oil and its scent fades quickly. It is the aroma initially sniffed after you immediately apply the product. The second, or "middle note", will begin to present itself within a few minutes of application; and the third or "base note" will kick in about 5 minutes after usage and will be the bouquet for the remainder of the day. Parfums are usually made using 20% - 40% fragrance oils held in alcohol, and contain about 50% of the long lasting base note. That's why it is the most expensive type of perfume on the market.
  • Eau de parfum is the most popular form of perfume on the market today. It contains between seven and fourteen percent fragrance oils. About thirty percent of the fragrance that you first spray on will be lost in a few hours, but the remaining seventy percent will last about twenty four hours. If you are looking for a perfume that holds its scent for long periods of time, then this is the perfume for you.

  • Esprit de parfum is the least concentrated of all of the perfumes largely used by women. It is however, slightly stronger than eau de toilet. Esprit de parfum is made using the same methods as perfume, accept it is more diluted and the scent is not strong, but lasts a long time.

  • Musk was given its name because it originally got its scent from the musk deer. The deer would be killed and its gland removed. They would then dry the gland in the sun, hot rock, or in hot oil. Similar scents used to make musk can be found in the musk ox, musk rat, musk duck, musk wood of the guianas and several other animals. The grain of musk will scent millions of cubic feet of air without losing very much weight. Musk has a very strong and pleasant scent, and is used in a lot of perfumes as well.

  • Cologne is approximately five percent essential oils, which is a much smaller ratio than the more expensive perfume which has approximately twenty too forty percent.

  • Eau de cologne was invented by Giovanni Paolo de Feminis near the end of the 17th century. In its original recipe it contained water, alcohol and the oils of bergamot, lemon, orange and orange blossom, with the addition of lavender oil and rosemary oil. Today it is also made using synthetic scents. It is one of the only perfumes that is widely used by men. Eau de cologne has the least concentrated scent of all of the perfumes.

  • Eau de toilet is slightly stronger than eau de cologne, but is still a very light scented type of perfume.
Since perfume was first invented, it has burgeoned into a ten billion dollar a year industry. They all come at different prices, depending on the brand name and the quality of the perfume itself. Parfum tends to be the most expensive of the bunch by far, with eau de toilet and eau de cologne being the least expensive. Here is an example of how a brand name can affect the price. Only about ten percent of the price of a bottle of perfume is the scent itself. Most of the cost goes into packaging, advertising, profit and tax. Although it does take tons of crushed rose petals to make the scent you smell in one bottle of authentic rose perfume, which is why you tend to pay the most money for perfume, since it has the highest concentrate of oils.

One last thing to remember or know, do not rub your wrists together after applying the fragrance! It "bruises" the scent and will change the aroma. When you purposely rub your wrists together, you are mixing your own body oils (and whatever else you have applied to your skin) into the chemical compound of the fragrance. Just let the scent air dry on your wrists and other areas where applied.

Also, do not smell the fragrance direct from the bottle (if a spray-type). It will smell differently on you than in the bottle.