Many women have a favorite scent and wear the same perfume for years. Their partners come to love and recognize it, even if they don’t know the brand name. Certainly, many never learn about the different perfume types or know whether their partners signature scent is an eau de parfum or eau de toilette.
What are the different types of perfume? Perfumes vary in concentration, and their scent ‘type’ (such as floral, citrus, woody and oriental). Perfumes use different essential oils to produce their top, mid and base notes to create a unique scent.
Scent combinations are endless. Why is that? Perfumes vary in concentration, types, categories, and notes. Read on to learn what this all means. You’ll find out why perfumes match the wearer’s personality, why some people wear the same scent for years, and why others change perfume with their mood.
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What Are The Different Types Of Perfume?
Why do we prefer the perfume that we do? In addition to perfume types, there are also scented categories. Then, there are scent “notes,” which add an additional layer of sophistication to perfume. Knowing what are the different types of perfume can help you to better understand your personal tastes when it comes to scents of all kinds.
What Is The Definition Of Perfume?
The working definition of perfume is the mix of fragrant oils, compounds, solvents, and fixatives. The purpose is to give people, animals, or even food a pleasant scent. The earliest of civilizations used perfume. In the nineteenth century, it became a commercial commodity. Manufacturers used synthesized compounds to create and market fragrances.
Before synthesized compounds, people made perfumes from essential oils and other aromatic scents that they distilled from natural oils and botanicals. People infused the scents in wax or other fats. Apply a thin layer to the skin, which absorbed the scent. Today, manufacturers create perfumes by blending petroleum-based aromatic hydrocarbons with essential oils.
What Are the Different Perfume Concentrations?
Manufacturers create modern scents by diluting the scent mixture with a type of alcohol. How they dilute it and with which kind of alcohol determines the concentration of the scent. Depending on that concentration, the resulting product is either perfume, a perfume extract, or cologne.
Let’s learn more about these perfume concentrations, beginning with the highest concentration and working our way down.
Parfum, which is also called “extrait de parfum,” is pure perfume. Parfum has the highest concentration of fragrance. It contains 15-40% fragrance. The average percentage falls between 20-30% for most. Due to the high concentration, parfums last longer, up to eight hours most of the time. Of course, it’s also the most expensive.
Eau de Parfum
Eau de parfum (EDP) comes in next in terms of fragrance concentration. The concentration is typically between 15-20%. Eau de parfum lasts for about five hours. As you would expect, it’s a bit less expensive than parfum. Because it’s concentrated enough to last and has a better price tag, it’s the most common type of perfume sold. It’s affordable enough to wear every day.
Eau de Toilette
Taken from the French “faire sa toilette” (that means getting ready), eau de toilette (EDT) has an approximate 5-15% fragrance concentration. Thus, it’s less expensive than eau de parfum. Naturally, that makes it accessible for those on a budget. EDT’s fragrance lasts about two to three hours. In some circles, eau de toilette is meant to wear during the day only. The stronger eau de parfum is for evenings.
Eau de Cologne
Eau de cologne (EDC) has a much lower concentration of 2-4% percent concentration and a higher concentration of alcohol. It’s much cheaper than other types of fragrance. Consequently, the scent lasts you only a couple of hours. EDC often sells in larger bottles since you need to use more to maintain the scent.
Eau fraiche has a similar concentration as eau de cologne and, thus, lasts for about two hours as well. The fragrance concentration here is from 1-3% only and contains less alcohol than cologne. The contents are mostly water.
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Now that you understand the different concentrations for perfume, next are the basic categories to describe the scent types, from floral to fruity, to earthy.
What Are the Different Perfume Scents?
Simply, the scent types place the various aromas themselves into categories. Understanding the types helps you learn your personal preferences. It also aids in shopping for perfume. Department store sales assistants at the perfume counter often understand the categories. They can help you sample tester fragrances to match your tastes.
As the name implies, floral scents are most often made from various flowers to create a traditionally feminine scent. They can be a single note of one flower, such as a lavender or rose. Or, they can contain a combination of several.
The expectation for floral scents is often more sweet than sexy. Because of this, florals are classic scents. Women usually apply a floral fragrance for formal events, family occasions, and church services.
Tangy and fruity are the best ways to describe citrus scents. The essential oil blend contains a lively infusion of citrus fruits. You’ll pick up their scent during daytime and outdoor activities as well as other festive occasions.
Some of the well-known brands that contain citrus scents are Clinique’s Happy, Jo Malone’s Grapefruit, The Gap’s Close, and Calvin Klein’s CK One.
Woody scents tend to be more unisex because they contain bark and moss type fragrances. They recreate natural forest scents. They blend well into masculine or feminine scents. Men and women alike wear woody fragrances as everyday scents, whether that be to the office or on weekend excursions.
Some of the more notable woody fragrances are Estée Lauder’s Knowing and. Chanel No. 19, Others are Ralph Lauren’s Romance, Britney Spears’ Believe, and Gucci’s Envy Me.
Oriental scents aim to be sexy and exotic. Reserved for strong, distinct, feminine perfumes, oriental scents are intentionally rich and exotic. They are a complex blend of animalistic base scents like ambergris or even musk combined with warm, earthy or amber notes. From there, some scents combine further with florals to create a bold, mysterious impression.
Some of the best-selling, seductive oriental scents are Elizabeth Taylor’s Black Pearls, Guerlain’s Shalimar, Givenchy’s Organza, and Versace’s Crystal Noir.
Fruity scents are both spicy and fresh. They please the olfactory sensors with the comforting and pleasant scents of peach, mango, berries, and apples, for example. They combine well with floral scents, becoming even more enticing. They can overpower, so applying sparingly creates the perfect aroma, and extends the life of your perfume bottle.
Some of the fruity scents you may have heard of include Liz Claiborne, Ralph Lauren’s Ralph Wild, Victoria’s Secret’s Very Sexy Now.
Green scents are notoriously unisex and don’t fall into the category of sexy or alluring. Yet, they are refreshing and popular for daytime wear due to their fresh smell reminiscent of freshly-cut grass. Modern and sporty, they are perfect for casual wear and outdoor events.
Some of the highest-ranking green scents are Ralph Lauren’s Safari, Adidas’ Adrenaline Woman, and Escada’s Magnetism.
Oceanics are a bit more modern since they require a lot of synthetic compounds. The first to appear on the market was Dune by Christian Dior in 1991. Oceanic scents are blends of artificial elements that emanate natural smells associated with ocean spray, linen, or crisp mountain air. They inspire a feeling of clean and fresh energy.
In addition to Dune, some of the more popular oceanic scents include Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden, Cool Water Woman by Davidoff, and Ocean Dream by Giorgio Beverly Hills.
Spice scents follow the adage about “sugar and spice.” They call to mind the warming kitchen smells of baked comfort foods like cinnamon rolls and gingerbread. In a spicy scent, you’ll detect everything from cinnamon to pepper, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.
Understandably, these are not the go-to for a formal night on the town or date night. They are, however, inviting scents that work well in any other social situation. Some of the top spicy perfumes are Chanel’s Coco and Estée Lauder’s Cinnabar.
Next, we’ll talk about fragrance notes. Notes blend together to form the final scent.
What Are The Different Perfume Notes?
When blending essential oils and synthetic compounds to make perfume, there are three levels, or notes, of scent. True, some fragrances contain only a single note. Though, most include several. The scents are deliberately added in balanced levels of top, middle, and base notes. Selecting which scents to place at which level is an art. It is essential to creating a successful scent.
Top notes are also called head notes or opening notes because they are the lightest notes in the scent. These are the scents you recognize right away. They are also the first to fade away because of their light molecular structure. Nonetheless, they are critical to the scent because they give the first impression. The top note is what you smell when you test a bottle at the store, for example.
Top notes are often citrus or fruits scents because they are attractive and alluring. If you’re not impressed, then the top note failed its mission. The more subtle task of the top note is to transition you into the core of the fragrance.
The middle notes also called heart notes for a good reason. Once the top note evaporates, the heart of the fragrance reveals itself. Middle notes last longer than the top notes. They, in turn, influence the base notes yet to come.
Thus, the perfume’s heart is pleasing and smooth. It’s often a mix of floral and fruit tones. Sometimes, you’ll detect spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Other typical middle notes are florals like rose and geranium, or spices like lemongrass, coriander, and neroli.
Lastly, the base notes are the final fragrance note, which reveals itself once the top note disappears entirely. These base notes intertwine with the middle note to give a full-bodied experience of the fragrance.
Often called the “dry-down period,” this is the time when the base notes deliver a lasting impression. Base notes are rich, lingering on your skin long after the top notes have gone. Common base notes include woody scents like sandalwood as well as spicy ones like vanilla, amber, and various types of musk.
Without this three-level combination of notes, perfume would lose its aesthetic appeal. Together, however, you experience a signature scent worth remembering.
Understanding what are the different types of perfume is important as the art of making perfume has come a long way since the ancient days of essential oils and beeswax. Today, there are distinctly different perfume types from which to choose. Those types vary in concentration (and price) and fall into several easy-to-understand categories.
Do you lean toward spicy, floral, or sweet? Or perhaps you enjoy the clean scent of the outdoors and go for woody, green, or oceanic. No matter your taste, there are hundreds of scents out there for you.
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In your quest for the perfect scent, you are now armed with the basic of perfume knowledge and vocabulary. Now you can experiment like the expert you are. Have a little fun discovering your perfume personality.
Related: Choosing A Perfume To Suit Your Personality
Before you go, I have put together a review of the most elegant perfumes ranging from timeless classics to modern day sophistication that I think you will enjoy. You can check it out below.
Discover Your Perfect Fragrance
Please take a moment to browse through my hand-picked collection of exquisite perfumes.
There may just be the perfect fragrance waiting there for you!
Andrew is a fragrance enthusiast, collector, and seasoned writer who has a burning passion for all things fragrance and flavour-related, from woody aromatics to green & spicy. Andrew’s Full Bio.