Why do we, men and women alike, use fragrances? To that question, there are many answers. Some use fragrances as a form of personal _expression, a way of making a statement about his- or herself without saying a word. Others use perfumes to make themselves more attractive and create a more favorable impression on others. Still others use perfumes to enhance their mood and to improve their general well-being.
We all have reasons for using fragrances. But before you head out to buy a bottle of scent, did you know that our bodies have a unique scent signature that makes us take easily to some types of perfumes, but not to others? So, a kind of perfume that is great on, say, your best friend may not work out for you.
Our scent signature is the particular chemistry of our body, and our body chemistry is strongly affected by our diet, our lifestyle choices (whether we drink or smoke or exercise regularly), the medication that we take (if we are taking any), and other factors. Our skin type and general coloring also dictates which type of scent will smell good on us. With this in mind, what then is the best way to go about choosing what fragrances will work for us? In selecting a type of perfume, there are three keys that you should remember: theme, notes and concentration.
Theme, also known as accord, is what differentiates one fragrance from another. The theme of a perfume depends on its base, and there are four basic scent bases:
Citrus. Citrus-based perfumes are light and fresh. They are made from citrus fruits like oranges, mandarins, lemons and bergamots.
Floral. Floral scents are based on flowers, either from a single flower or a mix of different kinds. Flowery perfumes are sweet and strong.
Earth. Perfumes with an earth base are made from minerals or from plants other than flowers. Sample earth bases are sandalwood, honey, cinnamon and vanilla. Earth-based scents are simple yet mysterious.
Musk. Musk bases are taken from the odorous sacs of animals, particularly the Asian musk deer and the civet. However, because of ethical issues, perfume companies now create musk scents synthetically. Musk fragrances are heavy and sexy.
Fragrance notes refer to the impressions left by the scent as it evaporates from the skin upon application. Each scent has three notes: the top note, the heart note, and the base note.
Top note. The top note is the scent of the perfume that appears instantly upon application. It is the scent that creates the first impression for the perfume, the one designed to attract attention to the perfume.
Heart note. The top note dissipates quickly and leaves behind it the heart note of the perfume. The heart note is the body of the perfume. It tells us what the perfume is all about. The heart note appears within one or two minutes after the top note evaporates.
Base note. The base note, along with the heart note, is the main theme of the perfume. You can smell the base note around thirty minutes after applying the fragrance.
A perfume’s concentration, on the other hand, tells us how much perfume oil is there in a fragrance. Perfume oils in their purest form are very volatile and can cause allergies or injuries if applied directly to the skin. Thus, they are diluted in solvents such as ethanol, or a combination of ethanol and water. Perfume extracts are the strongest and the most concentrated, and they are best used when applied only to the pulse points of the body. Next to perfume extracts come eau de perfume and eau de toilette. They are not as concentrated as perfume extracts, with eau de perfume being stronger than toilet water, but they are long lasting and can be sprayed all over the body. The eau de cologne is the lightest of the fragrances.
When buying a fragrance, there are a few important things to consider:
First, you have to determine how much you are willing to spend on a fragrance, and once you have set a budget, you should stick to it.
Second, do not buy a perfume just because you liked how it smelled on someone else. Remember that in scents, our body chemistry plays an important role, so whatever works on someone else may not work for you.
The third thing is that you should not be in a hurry to buy a scent. The notes of a perfume take time to come out, so you should also take your time as you sample perfumes. However, try not to test more than three scents at a time. Our noses can only sniff so much before it develops olfactory fatigue.
Lastly, imagine yourself wearing that scent at work or when going on a date. The fragrance should speak of you and your personality.
Once you have bought your perfume, store it in a place where it will not be exposed in direct sunlight, or to extreme heat or cold. Such conditions will only ruin the delicate chemistry of the perfume. Also, do not hoard your fragrances. A scent is meant to be used, or else it will just evaporate and fade in its bottle.
Do you know how to use a fragrance to its full effect? Remember that perfumes rise and evaporate. So, to heighten the effect of the scent on our skin, it is best to apply it from the feet going upward, taking special notice of the pulse points.
The pulse points are the places on our skin where our heartbeat is felt. These are the insides of the ankles, the back of the knees, the stomach, the bosom, the throat, the back of the ears, the inner side of the wrists and the inner bend of the elbows. The heat from these pulse points intensifies the body of the perfume.
Applying perfumes should become a habit, not for anything else, but as a way of loving yourself. A fragrance, after all, is meant to enhance your mood and make you feel good and beautiful.