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Cool, Fun, Interesting Perfume Facts

Posted by: Shopgirl, on: Monday, 24 February 2014

The fascinating world of perfume has a long, long line of history filled with truths and myths. Here are some of the quirkiest bits:

• Perfume, a 4000-year old art (more ancient than pharaohs and kings!), takes its origin in the Latin word “per fume” which is literally “through smoke” and refers to the incense-based perfumes containing spices and herbs like coriander and frankincense.

• Modern perfume (a blend of essential oils with alcohol) started in 1310. Hungary Water, made for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, was primarily composed of rosemary, thyme and verbena essence. It was also designed to be taken as tonic water and was also prescribed by physicians for gargling.

• Perfume was first used as a mask. Back when bathing was still very much a luxury and was not yet considered a hygiene thing, the rich would perfume themselves in order to mask unpleasant odours.

• Grasse in the southern region of France is the current capital of perfumery. The rich soil and favourable climate in Provence, France has proved to be conducive for growing hundreds of plan varieties that are used for perfumes.

• Perfumes contain weird ingredients. It’s not all sweet, spice and everything nice with perfumes. Some of the most exquisite creations would contain animal sources like glands (civet, castoreum), musk and excretions (ambergris). Ambergris, the most expensive ingredient, is known to be whale vomit to most but is actually poop according to some experts.

• Technology is a game changer. One such example is the invention of “headspace”, a scientific technique that uses sensors to recreate scents. The sensors would detect and analyse scents of objects and generate a list of ingredients and their proportions to help perfumers recreate it.

• Signature scents get lost on its wearer. The nose is a very complex thing and can adjust itself so well that you can get accustomed to it. When this happens, the wearer loses track of its scent unless it consciously sprayed or sniffed. This rather weird phenomenon is what causes wearer to overcompensate sometimes, spraying more than they usually do in order to smell it.

• Scents stick to clothes as well. We were always told that the essence of fragrance comes out only when applied directly on skin. Wearers with sensitive skin always found this frustrating. An alternative would be to spray it on clothes, but not on delicate fabrics, to go around this unyielding rule.

• Pulse points are not the only spots to wear perfume. It is also recommended to apply some on the hair as the hair’s oil would retain the scents longer and its motions would help diffuse the scents even better. Just take care of not over spraying as the alcohol content in perfumes tend to dry the mane.

• Perfume has a psychological effect on the wearer. Numerous scientific studies showed that there is a link between scents and emotions. The right scent can trigger a myriad of memories and emotions. Lavender is said to have a calming effect while citrus excites and energises.

• Prices are marketing tools. Prices don’t always dictate quality. Sometimes, it is just used to “position” fragrances among its market. Even the best perfumer can come up with affordable perfumes of the highest quality. While the price is primarily determined by its raw materials and concentration, both can affect the quality of the perfume, it is also dictated by non-perfume costs like the packaging and the expense of putting it out in the market. The perfume contents itself is a very small fraction of the cost of the entire bottle. Most designer brand perfumes would admit to this.

• Synthetics can be expensive, too. Many people think that essences containing natural absolutes are more expensive than synthetics. This is not always true as synthetics have gradually evolved by high technology and can now be just as rare as the natural ingredients. There are synthetic fragrance oils that cannot be found in nature like the marine scented Calone. Many find this counterintuitive but it is just the way the perfume market goes.

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