‘perfume’ The word comes from the Latin, meaning “a sweet-smelling fluid containing the essence of flowers and other substances”. But perfume has its origins in ancient Roman ritual. In the temples of Rome, crushed flowers, leaves, wood shavings, spices and aromatic resins were thrown onto burning coals as offerings to the gods. Their scent was released through smoke ( per fumum).
The difference between ‘perfume’ and ‘fragrance’?
To most people, the words essentially mean the same, and you can safely use one or the other. You will find that usage varies from country to country: in the United States, fragrance is the more common description; in England, scent or fragrance. In France? Parfum!
The fragrance industry tends to refer to the most concentrated form of a scent as perfume or parfum in contrast, say, to the less concentrated eau de toilette or cologne. Perfumers, on the other hand, use the word specifically to describe their fragrant creations, their perfumes.
Perfume, Eau de Parfum or Parfum de Toilette, Eau de Toilette and Cologne?
Each represents a different ‘concentration’ of actual perfume oil in a scent. Perfume, parfum or extrait is the most concentrated, longest-lasting fragrance form with 12 to 30 per cent perfume oils. The newer Eau de Parfum or Esprit de Parfum interpretations are almost as concentrated as the traditional extraits, but the Parfum de Toilette or Eau de Toilette (a Cologne, in the United States) is a lighter strength, with a level of fragrance anywhere from 4 to 18 per cent. In Europe, the word Eau de Cologne describes a very light level of fragrance, only 1 to 3 per cent oil.
‘notes’ in a fragrance
They are the different phases through which a fragrance develops when you spray it on your skin. Each of these stages or groups of “notes” has a different degree of volatility.
The head or top notes are the first impression of a fragrance. These are the light volatile notes that burst on your skin as you first spray, the fragrance you experience as you open a bottle. The head notes are so volatile that they usually wear away within 10 to 15 minutes.
As they fade, the heart or middle notes bloom on your skin. These form the core of the composition, and are the dominant theme of the fragrance.
This theme is accentuated and fixed by the base or soul notes. These are the foundation of the fragrance, the notes that bind the other ingredients together. They create the memory that makes the theme linger in your mind, and make the fragrance last for some four to five hours on your skin.