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Perfume Concentrations & Fragrance  NotesPerfume Concentrations & Fragrance  Notes

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A guide from Perfume to Cologne

Parfum or Eau de Toilette: What is the Difference?

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. The % by volume that you see on the bottles is the amount of alcohol that is in the fragrance blend. The concentration by percent/volume of perfume oil (aromatic compounds) is as follows:

  • Perfume extract (Extrait) is made with 15-40% (typical ~ 22%) of perfume oils. It is the costliest form of fragrance.
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP) ranges between 15 and 22% (typical ~ 15%) of aromatic compounds.
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT) ranges between 8 to 15% (typical ~ 10%) of perfume oils.
  • Eau de Cologne (EDC) has just between 3-8% (typical ~ 5%) of perfume oils.
  • Eau Fraiche (Body Splash and Aftershave) with 1 to 3% of perfume oils is the weakest dilution of fragrance.

The intensity and longevity of a perfume is based on the concentration, intensity and longevity of the aromatic compounds (natural essential oils/perfume oils) used: As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent created. Different perfumeries or perfume houses assign different amounts of oils to each of their perfumes. Therefore, although the oil concentration of a perfume in Eau de Parfum (EDP) dilution will necessarily be higher than the same perfume in Eau de Toilette (EDT) from within the same range, the actual amounts can vary between perfume houses. An EDT from one house may be stronger than an EDP from another house.

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 the description of a scent. Nonetheless, connoisseurs of perfume can become extremely skillful at identifying components and origins of scents.

Short description of Fragrance Notes

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: 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. They are also called the "head notes".
  • Middle notes: The scent of a perfume that emerges just prior to when the top notes dissipate. 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. They are also called the "heart notes".
  • 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.

The scents in the top and middle notes are influenced by the base notes; as well the scents of the base notes will be altered by the type of fragrance materials used as middle notes. Manufacturers of perfumes usually publish perfume notes and typically they present it as fragrance pyramid, with the components listed in imaginative and abstract terms.

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