Fragrance Files

Fragrance Files

Fragrance is a new, quarterly series that explores the world of fragrances — from the ingredients and compounds that make them up to how they are used in everyday life.

Choosing a perfume is a highly personal and oftentimes tricky endeavor. The many bottles of colognes and perfumes on display at the beauty counter can be overwhelming, and it’s hard to tell whether or not a particular scent will last on your skin or even smell good when you’re trying it on.

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Perfumes are typically categorized into various “note families” according to their scent profile and the olfactory impression they give off: Floral, Fresh, Oriental, Woody, etc. Those notes then combine into the accord that forms the overall fragrance experience. Each scent family has its own distinctive characteristics and different individuals will gravitate toward certain perfumes more than others.

Generally, the more you like one scent category, the more likely it is that you’ll love other perfumes within that same scent family. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the percentage of aromatic compounds found in a perfume (or “fragrance”) at an EdT, EdP or EDT dilution isn’t always equivalent across companies.

The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on a product ingredient list is an umbrella term for the undisclosed mixture of dozens of scent chemicals and compounds, which may include synthetics that can be created to mimic natural odorants such as calone (gives a fresh, ozonous marine quality) and coumarine (gives a green floral character). These perfume chemicals are not evaluated by IFRA’s self-governing international body and some have been linked to allergic reactions and reproductive harm.