Dec 20, 2009

Fragrance and the power of scent


Scent has a lot of power. It can lift your mood, relax you, attract potential suitors and project an entirely different image. Of course, used incorrectly it can make the people around you sneeze, faint and run away. So what can you do to make sure your fragrance is pleasing?

Start with a scented antiperspirant. Choose a solid or gel formula (not a spray or "crystal rock") for maximum protection against sweat and "odor" (isn't that an awful word?), then apply it every morning to your underarms. The active ingredients in your antiperspirant will keep you from sweating, while the fragrance will help mask any of your personal, um, "odor" that is less than pleasant. For starters, I suggest trying something with a subtle baby-powder scent, or a product marked "Regular Scent", rather than something with a green apple or cinnamon fragrance (which can be totally overwhelming, cause headaches and clash with your perfume).

Above, I mentioned your perfume. PERFUME: "per fumum" - comes from the Latin, meaning "through the smoke." In ancient times, fragrant resins were burned as incense offerings that was the origin. Today, we understand perfume to be a solution containing 15% to 30% perfume oils and 85% to 70% alcohol, respectively.

The word perfume has actually come to encompass several different forms of fragrance. In order potency these are less expensive perfumes (also called parfum), Eau De Toilette ( lighter & more delicate fragrance, less expensive than Eau de Parfum, and lasts a few hours) and Eau De Cologne (has the greatest dilution of fragrances with a 3-5% concentration of perfume essence, lasting up to 2 hours). Many people consider shower gels, body lotions and dusting powders to be forms of perfume. The general rule is that the more potent fragrances (perfume, eau de cologne) should be applied with a much lighter hand than their less potent counterparts. Another thing to consider is that dry skin tends to absorb scent, making it smell weaker, while oily skin often renders the fragrance stronger. Finally, scents will smell much stronger in summer than in winter!

Feeling overwhelmed? You've just reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of fragrance information. Another thing we have to look at is fragrance families, or groups of fragrances with similar ingredients and scents. There are four main families:

Floral Scents- Floral scents can be derived from well defined single flower notes or contain the scents of many flowers in a bouquet. Think of roses, lilies (lily of the valley) and lavender. For example a single note like, DIORISSIMO by Christian Dior, or a whole bouquet of floral effects, as in QUELQUES FLEURS by Houbigant. As a matter of fact, all perfumes contain floral notes in some quantity. Some floral fragrances you may know? Chanel #5, Estee Lauder Pleasures and Lancome Poeme.

Exotic Scents- These invoke that heady feeling of the Far East. Rich, intoxicating and warm, they smell of amber, musk, vanilla and sandalwood. These perfumes also contain ingredients that are reminiscent of fragrances from the East. Such ingredients can be exotic blossom notes, spices, balsams, resins, and animalic components. The character of the exotic perfumes are such that they are mostly used as so-called winter or evening perfumes. You've probably heard of Guerlain's Shalimar, and the same company's Samsara, or perhaps Abercrombie and Fitch, Acqua di Parma. Famous oriental fragrance includes Black Pearls by Elizabeth Taylor. Exotic perfumes are best for eveningwear due the fact that most carry a very heavy scent.

GREEN Earthy Scents - Lush forests, leaves, grasslands and meadows make up the familiar scent of most woody fragrances; these are often citrusy. Since woody scents contain many green notes (patchouli, pine, basil and juniper), and earthy accents in perfumes are not pronounced, always subtle. These perfumes are ideally suited so a natural or nature lover personality. Famous woody perfumes are L'Eau d'Issey and Chanel's Cristalle. Other Woody Scents Givenchy, Versace, Paco Rabanne, and Coty.

MOSSY Woody Scents - different kinds of tree mosses and oak moss play an important part in nearly all perfume types. They are of special significance in the chypre notes. Mossy nuances are very complex and can have, besides the basic moss element, algae-like, leathery, woody and other characteristics. Their especially good fixing qualities, as well as their ability to give fragrances substance and depth, make them indispensable.

POWDERY- is the fragrance effect produced by the interaction of long-lasting, mossy, woody, sweet and crystalline elements. Many perfumes leave a powdery overall impression after evaporation of the fresh and floral ingredients.

LIGHT - perfume notes owe their character mainly to fresh, citrus, floral, fruity and green components. They contain practically no sweet, balsamic or sultry elements. It used to be difficult, but today, the perfumer has the means to give good fixation also to perfumes of light character.

Fresh Scents- Fresh scents are often the choice of younger girls because the rarely-overpowering notes of grass and water can be worn anywhere. In European regions, freshness is generally associated with lemon, lavender and green notes, light floral components. In other regions, North America for example, sweet and powdery perfumes are also considered as fresh. Try wearing Dardoff Cool Water.

SWEET - elements exist in many perfumes, in differing amounts, especially in exotic and heavy chypre perfumes. The best-known example of a sweet-smelling natural product is the extract of the vanilla bean.

SPICY - fragrance notes are used in the perfume industry in the form of essential oils from almost all the well-known spices. For example, cinnamon and clove are used widely in Oriental perfumes. Many masculine perfumes contain portions of spice-oils-for example: marjoram, coriander and pepper.

Remember to keep your perfume properly stored away from the harmful effects of light and oxygen. It will keep an average of six months without deterioration, or for a much longer period.

FRESH: in relation to the effect of a perfume, is a subjective feeling that can be caused by different fragrance impressions.

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