What Is Perfume? How perfumes are made?

Jun 12, 2017

What Is Perfume? How perfumes are made? 

The history of the perfume dates back since the early civilization. Today we all are familiar with that divine liquid. What is more, we are ready to pay a big price. We know the names of the famous brands, we know how to apply the perfume, but still, do we know what the perfume is? Do you know how it is made and how it works? 

Well, if you are curious to learn more about perfumes this article will shed some light on the issue.

What is perfume and what do perfumes consist of?

The Perfume is a form of liquid encased in a bottle. It is a mixture of water, alcohol, natural essential oils, fixatives, and solvents. Typically, the perfume contains between 20% - 40% fragrance. Perfume is unique because it has the ability to evoke images, memories, and different emotions on our mind. 

The chemistry of the perfume

The chemistry of the perfume is never the same. However, the main components are familiar to everyone: Alcohol, water, and a special mix of fragrances. The scent could be fresh citrus, musk, floral, etc., depending on the essential oils included. 

The base of the perfume is either alcohol, beeswax or water. Mainly it is ethyl alcohol used in the liquid for its property to evaporate quickly in contact with the skin. 

The fragrance can be derived from plants (natural essential oils) or can be synthetic. 

For the perfume to be perfect is required balance between the base and the fragrance, so that the combination not to be too obtrusive or light. 


As we mentioned the oils used in perfumes could be natural or synthetic. The essential oils are extracted from flowers, herbs, petals, plants, roots, even animals. These oils are made of three notes, which develop gradually. They are: the top note, the middle note, and the base note. The first one (top note) can be smelled immediately. It comes first, but also it doesn’t last a long time. Then is the heart note which emerges after some time and can be smelled during the next 3 hours. Finally, the base note stays for up to 8 hours – it is the strongest one. The different notes are the reason why the scent of the perfume changes throughout the day. Of course, there are other factors, which also have an effect on the way your perfume smell, such as a skin type, hormones, concentration of the perfume, etc. 

The synthetic oils are derived with the help of different chemical reactions and methods. 

Because of the chemical reactions be mindful where store your perfume. Chemical reactions caused by light can change the scent of your perfume. The same refers to humidity. That is why, you should keep your perfume away from sunlight – cool and dark places are preferable. You can also buy special boxes for keeping your perfumes.  

An interesting fact

Did you know what actually is responsible for your ability to smell and differentiate scents? It’s your cells in the nose – they recognize the evaporating molecules and then send electrical messages to your brain. There are many books written about the perfumes and our perceptions, the relation between our senses, how fragrances influence us, what was the role of the perfume in the past and many interesting things to learn.

Types of perfumes 

Some people think that every scented liquid they buy is perfume. The truth is that you rarely buy perfumes because they are very expensive. What you tend to buy is Eau de Toilette or Eau de Cologne. What’s the difference?

Eau de Parfum

After the real perfume, Eau de perfume (EDP) is the next type of perfume with a high concentration of fragrance - between 15% and 20%. Most people actually use it. It is preferable because of its intensity. It lasts for about five hours. The best part is that is less expensive than the perfume. So, for everyday use, specialist recommend using it. 

Eau de Toilette

Eau de toilette (EDT) has a less concentration 5% to 15%. Its price is cheaper, but you pay for the quality. That’s mean because of the small concentration, the fragrance will last only up to 3 hours.

Eau de Cologne

Eau de cologne, or EDC, it contains the smallest amount of fragrance – up to 4 %. Because of that, it is much cheaper than the other products and lasts up to 2 hours. However, it often is offered in big bottles so you can reapply every two hours. 

Short Fragrance Guide

What else should we know about scents? Well, they are classified in families. When categorized, fragrances are easy to describe. Here are the most popular scent families: 

Floral: dominated by the scent of flowers

Fruity: sweet -here the dominant scent is fruit; including citrus. Citruses often are a companion to more floral notes

Herbaceous: made of variety of herbs

Green: made of fresh grass or leaves

Woody: made of different types of wood 

Musk: made by the musk deer – very mystic (one of the most favorite aromas)

Amber: like tree resin

Animalic: include bodily smells

Oriental: contain spicy notes

How to recognize different notes and to describe your perfume 

The easiest way to describe a perfume is by the components it is made of (the mix of notes). You can say to which family (category) the perfume belongs. For a person who is not professional, it’s hard to tell apart all the notes. However, try to distinguish the main notes – floral, citrus, green, etc.  

Finally, you know that moment when someone passes by leaving a scent trace. Do you know what is that called? The trail of fragrance left by a person wearing perfume is called “sillage.” It’s a word with French origin, meaning “wake’. It means that the trace left wakes something in the person smelled it.  

Perfumes are something special; they give the last touch to our individuality. A person can be characterized by the perfumes they use and… perfumes can do miracles from boosting our mood and confidence to attracting a new partner.