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Perfume

Perfume

The word perfume derives from the Latin perfumare, meaning “to smoke through”.[3] Perfumery, as the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization and possibly Ancient China.[4] It was further refined by the Romans and the Muslims.

The world’s first-recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia.[5] She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics, then filtered and put them back in the still several times.[6]

On the Indian subcontinent, perfume and perfumery existed in the Indus civilization (3300 BC – 1300 BC).[7]

A Byzantine alembic used to distill perfumes

Ancient Egyptian perfume vessel in shape of a monkey; 1550-1295 BC; faience; height: 6.5 cm, width: 3.3 cm, depth: 3.8 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

In 2003,[8] archaeologists uncovered what are believed[by whom?] to be the world’s oldest surviving perfumes in Pyrgos, Cyprus. The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years. They were discovered in an ancient perfumery, a 300-square-meter (3,230 sq ft) factory[8] housing at least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels, and perfume bottles. In ancient times people used herbs and spices, such as almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, and bergamot, as well as flowers.[9] In May 2018, an ancient perfume “Rodo” (Rose) was recreated for the Greek National Archaeological Museum’s anniversary show “Countless Aspects of Beauty”, allowing visitors to approach antiquity through their olfaction receptors.[10]

In the 9th century the Arab chemist Al-Kindi (Alkindus) wrote the Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations, which contained more than a hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters, and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. The book also described 107 methods and recipes for perfume-making and perfume-making equipment, such as the alembic (which still bears its Arabic name.[11][12] [from Greek ἄμβιξ, “cup”, “beaker”][13][14] described by Synesius in the 4th century[15]).

The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose. Until his discovery, liquid perfumes consisted of mixtures of oil and crushed herbs or petals, which made a strong blend. Rose water was more delicate, and immediately became popular. Both the raw ingredients and the distillation technology significantly influenced western perfumery and scientific developments, particularly chemistry.

There is controversy on whether perfumery was completely lost in Western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. That said, the art of perfumery in Western Europe was reinvigorated after the Islamic invasion of Spain and Southern Italy in 711 and 827. The Islamic controlled cities of Spain (Al-Andalus) became major producers of perfumes that were traded throughout the Old World. Like in the ancient world, Andalusians used fragrance in devotion to God. Perfumes added a layer of cleanliness that was needed for their devotion. Andalusian women were also offered greater freedoms than women in other Muslim controlled regions and were allowed to leave their homes and socialize outside. This freedom allowed courtship to occur outside of the home. As a result, Andalusian women used perfumes for courtship.[16]

Recipes of perfumes from the monks’ of Santa Maria Delle Vigne or Santa Maria Novella of Florence, Italy, were recorded from 1221.[17] In the east, the Hungarians produced around 1370 a perfume made of scented oils blended in an alcohol solution – best known as Hungary Water – at the behest of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary.[18][19][20] The art of perfumery prospered in Renaissance Italy, and in the 16th century the personal perfumer to Catherine de’ Medici (1519–1589), René the Florentine (Renato il fiorentino), took Italian refinements to France. His laboratory was connected with her apartments by a secret passageway, so that no formulae could be stolen en route. Thanks to Rene, France quickly became one of the European centers of perfume and cosmetics manufacture. Cultivation of flowers for their perfume essence, which had begun in the 14th century, grew into a major industry in the south of France.

Between the 16th and 17th centuries, perfumes were used primarily by the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from infrequent bathing.[21] In 1693, Italian barber Giovanni Paolo Feminis created a perfume water called Aqua Admirabilis,[22] today best known as eau de cologne; his nephew Johann Maria Farina (Giovanni Maria Farina) took over the business in 1732.[23][24]

By the 18th century the Grasse region of France, Sicily, and Calabria (in Italy) were growing aromatic plants to provide the growing perfume industry with raw materials. Even today, Italy and France remain the center of European perfume design and trade.

Dilution classes[edit]

Original Eau de Cologne flacon 1811, from Johann Maria Farina, Farina gegenüber

Vintage atomizer perfume bottle

Perfume types reflect the concentration of aromatic compounds in a solvent, which in fine fragrance is typically ethanol or a mix of water and ethanol. Various sources differ considerably in the definitions of perfume types. The intensity and longevity of a perfume is based on the concentration, intensity, and longevity of the aromatic compounds, or perfume oils, used. As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent. Specific terms are used to describe a fragrance’s approximate concentration by the percent of perfume oil in the volume of the final product. The most widespread terms[25] are:

  • parfum or extrait, in English known as perfume extract, pure perfume, or simply perfume: 15–40% aromatic compounds (IFRA: typically ~20%);
  • esprit de parfum (ESdP): 15–30% aromatic compounds, a seldom used strength concentration in between EdP and perfume;
  • eau de parfum (EdP) or parfum de toilette (PdT): 10–20% aromatic compounds (typically ~15%); sometimes called “eau de perfume” or “millésime.” Parfum de toilette is a less common term, most popular in the 1980s, that is generally analogous to eau de parfum.
  • eau de toilette (EdT): 5–15% aromatic compounds (typically ~10%); This is the staple for most masculine perfumes.
  • eau de Cologne (EdC): 3–8% aromatic compounds (typically ~5%). This concentration is often simply called cologne; see below for more information on the confusing nature of the term.
  • eau fraîche: products sold as “splashes”, “mists”, “veils” and other imprecise terms. Generally these products contain 3% or less aromatic compounds and are diluted with water rather than oil or alcohol.[25]

There is much confusion over the term “cologne”, which has three meanings. The first and oldest definition refers to a family of fresh, citrus-based fragrances distilled using extracts from citrus, floral, and woody ingredients. Supposedly these were first developed in the early 18th century in Cologne, Germany, hence the name. This type of “classical cologne” describes unisex compositions “which are basically citrus blends and do not have a perfume parent.”[26] Examples include Mäurer & Wirtz’s 4711 (created in 1799), and Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne impériale (1853).

In the 20th century, the term took on a second meaning. Fragrance companies began to offer lighter, less concentrated interpretations of their existing perfumes, making their products available to a wider range of customers. Guerlain, for example, offered an eau de Cologne version of its flagship perfume Shalimar. In contrast to classical colognes, this type of modern cologne is a lighter, diluted, less concentrated interpretation of a more concentrated product, typically a pure parfum. The cologne version is often the lightest concentration from a line of fragrance products.[26]

Finally, the term “cologne” has entered the English language as a generic, overarching term to denote a fragrance typically worn by a man as opposed to a woman, regardless of its concentration. The actual product worn by a man may technically be an eau de toilette, but he may still say that he “wears cologne”. A similar problem surrounds the term “perfume”, which is sometimes used in a generic sense to refer to fragrances marketed to women, whether or not the fragrance is actually an extrait.

Classical colognes first appeared in Europe in the 17th century. The first fragrance labeled a “parfum” extract with a high concentration of aromatic compounds was Guerlain’s Jicky in 1889. Eau de toilette appeared alongside parfum around the turn of the century. The EdP concentration and terminology is the most recent, being originally developed to offer the radiance of an EdT with the longevity of an extrait. Parfum de toilette and EdP began to appear in the 1970s and gained popularity in the 1980s. EdP is pobably the most widespread strength concentration, often the first concentration offered, and usually referred to generically as “perfume.”[25]

Imprecise terminology[edit]

J.B. Filz in Vienna. Perfumeries with long traditions, such as J.B. Filz, created their own scents.[27]

The wide range in the percentages of aromatic compounds that may be present in each concentration means that the terminology of extrait, EdP, EdT, and EdC is quite imprecise. Although an EdP will often be more concentrated than an EdT and in turn an EdC, this is not always the case. Different perfumeries or perfume houses assign different amounts of oils to each of their perfumes. Therefore, although the oil concentration of a perfume in EdP dilution will necessarily be higher than the same perfume in EdT from within a company’s same range, the actual amounts vary among perfume houses. An EdT from one house may have a higher concentration of aromatic compounds than an EdP from another.

Furthermore, some fragrances with the same product name but having a different concentration may not only differ in their dilutions, but actually use different perfume oil mixtures altogether. For instance, in order to make the EdT version of a fragrance brighter and fresher than its EdP, the EdT oil may be “tweaked” to contain slightly more top notes or fewer base notes. Chanel No. 5 is a good example: its parfum, EdP, EdT, and now-discontinued EdC concentrations are in fact different compositions (the parfum dates to 1921, whereas the EdP was not developed until the 1980s). In some cases, words such as extrêmeintense, or concentrée that might indicate a higher aromatic concentration are actually completely different fragrances, related only because of a similar perfume accord. An example of this is Chanel’s Pour Monsieur and Pour Monsieur concentrée.

Historically, women’s fragrances tended to have higher levels of aromatic compounds than men’s fragrances. Fragrances marketed to men were typically sold as EdT or EdC, rarely as EdP or perfume extracts. This is changing in the modern fragrance world, especially as fragrances are becoming more unisex. Women’s fragrances used to be common in all levels of concentration, but today are mainly seen in parfum, EdP and EdT concentrations.[citation needed]

Solvent types[edit]

Perfume oils are often diluted with a solvent, though this is not always the case, and its necessity is disputed. By far the most common solvent for perfume-oil dilution is alcohol, typically a mixture of ethanol and water or a rectified spirit. Perfume oil can also be diluted by means of neutral-smelling oils such as fractionated coconut oil, or liquid waxes such as jojoba oil.

Applying fragrances[edit]

The conventional application of pure perfume (parfum extrait) in Western cultures is behind the ears, at the nape of the neck, under the armpits and at the insides of wrists, elbows and knees, so that the pulse point will warm the perfume and release fragrance continuously. According to perfumer Sophia Grojsman behind the knees is the ideal point to apply perfume in order that the scent may rise.[28] The modern perfume industry encourages the practice of layering fragrance so that it is released in different intensities depending upon the time of the day. Lightly scented products such as bath oil, shower gel, and body lotion are recommended for the morning; eau de toilette is suggested for the afternoon; and perfume applied to the pulse points for evening.[29][self-published source] Cologne fragrance is released rapidly, lasting around 2 hours. Eau de toilette lasts from 2 to 4 hours, while perfume may last up to six hours.[30]

A variety of factors can influence how fragrance interacts with the wearer’s own physiology and affect the perception of the fragrance. Diet is one factor, as eating spicy and fatty foods can increase the intensity of a fragrance.[31] The use of medications can also impact the character of a fragrance.[31] The relative dryness of the wearer’s skin is important, since dry skin will not hold fragrance as long as skin with more oil.[30]

Describing a perfume[edit]

An original bottle of Fougère Royale by Houbigant. Created by Paul Parquet in 1884, it is one of the most important modern perfumes and inspired the eponymous Fougère class of fragrances.

Fragrance pyramid

The precise formulae of commercial perfumes are kept secret. Even if they were widely published, they would be dominated by such complex ingredients and odorants that they would be of little use in providing a guide to the general consumer in description of the experience of a scent. Nonetheless, connoisseurs of perfume can become extremely skillful at identifying components and origins of scents in the same manner as wine experts.[32]

The most practical way to start describing a perfume is according to the elements of the fragrance notes of the scent or the “family” it belongs to, all of which affect the overall impression of a perfume from first application to the last lingering hint of scent.[33][34]

The trail of scent left behind by a person wearing perfume is called its sillage, after the French word for “wake”, as in the trail left by a boat in water.

Fragrance notes[edit]

Perfume is described in a musical metaphor as having three sets of notes, making the harmonious scent accord. The notes unfold over time, with the immediate impression of the top note leading to the deeper middle notes, and the base notes gradually appearing as the final stage. These notes are created carefully with knowledge of the evaporation process of the perfume.

  • Top notes: Also called the head notes. The scents that are perceived immediately on application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person’s initial impression of a perfume and thus are very important in the selling of a perfume. Examples of top notes include mint, lavender and coriander.
  • Middle notes: Also referred to as heart notes. The scent of a perfume that emerges just prior to the dissipation of the top note. The middle note compounds form the “heart” or main body of a perfume and act to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant with time. Examples of middle notes include seawater, sandalwood and jasmine.
  • Base notes: The scent of a perfume that appears close to the departure of the middle notes. The base and middle notes together are the main theme of a perfume. Base notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume. Compounds of this class of scents are typically rich and “deep” and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after application. Examples of base notes include tobacco, amber and musk.

The scents in the top and middle notes are influenced by the base notes; conversely, the scents of the base notes will be altered by the types of fragrance materials used as middle notes. Manufacturers who publish perfume notes typically do so with the fragrance components presented as a fragrance pyramid,[35] using imaginative and abstract terms for the components listed.

Olfactive families[edit]

The grouping of perfumes can never be completely objective or definitive. Many fragrances contain aspects of different families. Even a perfume designated as “single flower” will have subtle undertones of other aromatics. There are hardly any true unitary-scent perfumes consisting of a single aromatic material.

The family classification is a starting point to describe a perfume, but does not fully characterize it.

Traditional categories[edit]

Opium by YSL, of amber or oriental fragrance class

A floral bouquet, Joy from Jean Patou

The traditional categories which emerged around 1900:

  • Single Floral: Fragrances dominated by a particular flower; in French called a soliflore. Example: Serge Lutens Sa Majeste La Rose.)
  • Floral Bouquet: Compound of several flower scents. Examples: Houbigant Quelques Fleurs, Jean Patou Joy.
  • Amber or “Oriental”: Large class featuring sweet, slightly animalic scents of ambergris or labdanum, often combined with vanilla, tonka bean, flowers and woods. Can be enhanced by camphorous oils and incense resins, evoking Victorian era “Oriental” imagery. Traditional examples: Guerlain Shalimar, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle.[36]
  • Woody: Fragrances dominated by woody scents, typically agarwood, sandalwood, cedarwood, and vetiver. Patchouli, with its camphoraceous smell, is commonly found in these perfumes. Traditional examples: Myrurgia Maderas De Oriente, Chanel Bois des Îles. Modern: Balenciaga Rumba.
  • Leather: A family of fragrances featuring honey, tobacco, wood and wood tars in the middle or base notes and a scent that alludes to leather. Traditional examples: Robert Piguet Bandit, Balmain Jolie Madame.
  • Chypre (IPA: [ʃipʁ]): Meaning Cyprus in French, this includes fragrances built on bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum. Named after oakmoss scent (chypre powder), popularized with the success of François Coty’s Chypre (1917). Modern example: Guerlain Mitsouko.
  • Fougère (IPA: [fu.ʒɛʁ]): Meaning fern in French, built on a base of lavender, coumarin and oakmoss, with a sharp herbaceous and woody scent. Named for Houbigant’s Fougère Royale, many men’s fragrances belong to this family. Modern examples: Fabergé Brut, Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir, Penhaligon’s Douro.

Modern[edit]

Since 1945, new categories have emerged to describe modern scents, due to great advances in the technology of compound design and synthesis, as well as the natural development of styles and tastes:

  • Bright Floral: Combining Single Floral & Floral Bouquet traditional categories. Example: Estée Lauder Beautiful.
  • Green: Lighter, more modern interpretation of the Chypre type, with pronounced cut grass, crushed green leaf and cucumber-like scents. Examples: Estée Lauder Aliage, Sisley Eau de Campagne, Calvin Klein Eternity.
  • AquaticOceanicOzonic: The newest category, first appearing in 1988 Davidoff Cool Water (1988), Christian Dior Dune (1991). A clean smell reminiscent of the ocean, leading to many androgynous perfumes. Generally contains calone, a synthetic discovered in 1966, or more recent synthetics. Also used to accent floral, oriental, and woody fragrances.
  • Citrus: An old fragrance family that until recently consisted mainly of “freshening” eau de colognes, due to the volatility of citrus scents. Development of newer fragrance compounds has allowed for the creation of more tenacious citrus fragrances. Example: Penhaligon’s Quercus.
  • Fruity: Featuring fruits other than citrus, such as peach, cassis (black currant), mango, passion fruit, and others. Example: Ginestet Botrytis.
  • Gourmand (French: [ɡuʁmɑ̃]): Scents with “edible” or “dessert-like” qualities, often containing vanilla, tonka bean, and coumarin, as well as synthetic components designed to resemble food flavors. A sweet Example: Thierry Mugler’s Angel (sweet).

Fragrance wheel[edit]

Fragrance Wheel perfume classification chart, ver. 1983

This newer classification method is widely used in retail and the fragrance industry, created in 1983 by the perfume consultant Michael Edwards. The new scheme simplifies classification and naming, as well as showing the relationships among the classes.[37]

The five main families are FloralOrientalWoodyAromatic Fougère, and Fresh, the first four from the classic terminology and the last from the modern oceanic category. Each of these are divided into subgroups and arranged around a wheel. In this scheme, Chanel No.5, traditionally classified as an aldehydic floral, is placed under the Soft Floral sub-group, while amber scents are within the Oriental group. Chypre perfumes are more ambiguous, having affinities with both the Oriental and Woody families. For instance, Guerlain Mitsouko is under Mossy Woods, but Hermès Rouge, a more floral chypre, is under Floral Oriental.

Aromatics sources[edit]

Plant sources[edit]

Citrus tree blossom

Resins in perfumery include myrrh

Frankincense

Plants have long been used in perfumery as a source of essential oils and aroma compounds. These aromatics are usually secondary metabolites produced by plants as protection against herbivores, infections, as well as to attract pollinators. Plants are by far the largest source of fragrant compounds used in perfumery. The sources of these compounds may be derived from various parts of a plant. A plant can offer more than one source of aromatics, for instance the aerial portions and seeds of coriander have remarkably different odors from each other. Orange leaves, blossoms, and fruit zest are the respective sources of petitgrain, neroli, and orange oils.

  • Bark: Commonly used barks include cinnamon and cascarilla. The fragrant oil in sassafras root bark is also used either directly or purified for its main constituent, safrole, which is used in the synthesis of other fragrant compounds.[38]
  • Flowers and blossoms: Undoubtedly the largest and most common source of perfume aromatics. Includes the flowers of several species of rose and jasmine, as well as osmanthus, plumeria, mimosa, tuberose, narcissus, scented geranium, cassie, ambrette as well as the blossoms of citrus and ylang-ylang trees. Although not traditionally thought of as a flower, the unopened flower buds of the clove are also commonly used. Most orchid flowers are not commercially used to produce essential oils or absolutes, except in the case of vanilla, an orchid, which must be pollinated first and made into seed pods before use in perfumery.
  • Fruits: Fresh fruits such as apples, strawberries, cherries rarely yield the expected odors when extracted; if such fragrance notes are found in a perfume, they are more likely to be of synthetic origin. Notable exceptions include blackcurrant leaf, litsea cubeba, vanilla, and juniper berry. The most commonly used fruits yield their aromatics from the rind; they include citrus such as oranges, lemons, and limes. Although grapefruit rind is still used for aromatics, more and more commercially used grapefruit aromatics are artificially synthesized since the natural aromatic contains sulfur and its degradation product is quite unpleasant in smell.
  • Leaves and twigs: Commonly used for perfumery are lavender leaf, patchouli, sage, violets, rosemary, and citrus leaves. Sometimes leaves are valued for the “green” smell they bring to perfumes, examples of this include hay and tomato leaf.
  • Resins: Valued since antiquity, resins have been widely used in incense and perfumery. Highly fragrant and antiseptic resins and resin-containing perfumes have been used by many cultures as medicines for a large variety of ailments. Commonly used resins in perfumery include labdanum, frankincense/olibanum, myrrh, balsam of Peru, benzoin. Pine and fir resins are a particularly valued source of terpenes used in the organic synthesis of many other synthetic or naturally occurring aromatic compounds. Some of what is called amber and copal in perfumery today is the resinous secretion of fossil conifers.
  • Roots, rhizomes and bulbs: Commonly used terrestrial portions in perfumery include iris rhizomes, vetiver roots, various rhizomes of the ginger family.
  • Seeds: Commonly used seeds include tonka bean, carrot seed, coriander, caraway, cocoa, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, and anise.
  • Woods: Highly important in providing the base notes to a perfume, wood oils and distillates are indispensable in perfumery. Commonly used woods include sandalwood, rosewood, agarwood, birch, cedar, juniper, and pine. These are used in the form of macerations or dry-distilled (rectified) forms.
  • Rom terpenes. Orchid scents

Animal sources[edit]

A musk pod. Extensive hunting of male musk deer for their pods in recent history has resulted in the detriment of the species.

Ambergris

  • Ambergris: Lumps of oxidized fatty compounds, whose precursors were secreted and expelled by the sperm whale. Ambergris should not be confused with yellow amber, which is used in jewelry. Because the harvesting of ambergris involves no harm to its animal source, it remains one of the few animalic fragrancing agents around which little controversy now exists.
  • Castoreum: Obtained from the odorous sacs of the North American beaver.
  • Civet: Also called civet musk, this is obtained from the odorous sacs of the civets, animals in the family Viverridae, related to the mongoose. World Animal Protection investigated African civets caught for this purpose.[39]
  • Hyraceum: Commonly known as “Africa stone”, is the petrified excrement of the rock hyrax.[40]
  • Honeycomb: From the honeycomb of the honeybee. Both beeswax and honey can be solvent extracted to produce an absolute. Beeswax is extracted with ethanol and the ethanol evaporated to produce beeswax absolute.
  • Musk: Originally derived from a gland (sac or pod) located between the genitals and the umbilicus of the Himalayan male musk deer Moschus moschiferus, it has now mainly been replaced by the use of synthetic musks sometimes known as “white musk”.

Other natural sources[edit]

  • Lichens: Commonly used lichens include oakmoss and treemoss thalli.
  • “Seaweed”: Distillates are sometimes used as essential oil in perfumes. An example of a commonly used seaweed is Fucus vesiculosus, which is commonly referred to as bladder wrack. Natural seaweed fragrances are rarely used due to their higher cost and lower potency than synthetics.

Synthetic sources[edit]

Many modern perfumes contain synthesized odorants. Synthetics can provide fragrances which are not found in nature. For instance, Calone, a compound of synthetic origin, imparts a fresh ozonous metallic marine scent that is widely used in contemporary perfumes. Synthetic aromatics are often used as an alternate source of compounds that are not easily obtained from natural sources. For example, linalool and coumarin are both naturally occurring compounds that can be inexpensively synthesized from terpenes. Orchid scents (typically salicylates) are usually not obtained directly from the plant itself but are instead synthetically created to match the fragrant compounds found in various orchids.

One of the most commonly used classes of synthetic aromatics by far are the white musks. These materials are found in all forms of commercial perfumes as a neutral background to the middle notes. These musks are added in large quantities to laundry detergents in order to give washed clothes a lasting “clean” scent.

The majority of the world’s synthetic aromatics are created by relatively few companies. They include:

  • Givaudan
  • International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF)
  • Firmenich
  • Takasago
  • Symrise

Each of these companies patents several processes for the production of aromatic synthetics annually.