Monday, September 22, 2008


Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces a pleasant smell.

Bottles of some notable commercial perfumes: (clockwise from top left) Bois de Violette, Serge Lutens, 1992; Angel, Thierry Mugler, 1994; Shalimar, Guerlain, 1925; Beyond Paradise, Estée Lauder, 2003; No. 5, Chanel, 1921 (Pre-1950 bottle); Cabochard, Parfums Grès, 1959 (original bottle); Bellodgia, Caron, 1927; Arpège, Lanvin, 1927 (original bottle); Nombre Noir, Shiseido, 1981; Mitsouko, Guerlain, 1919; Pour Un Homme, Caron, 1934.
Bottles of some notable commercial perfumes: (clockwise from top left) Bois de Violette, Serge Lutens, 1992; Angel, Thierry Mugler, 1994; Shalimar, Guerlain, 1925; Beyond Paradise, Estée Lauder, 2003; No. 5, Chanel, 1921 (Pre-1950 bottle); Cabochard, Parfums Grès, 1959 (original bottle); Bellodgia, Caron, 1927; Arpège, Lanvin, 1927 (original bottle); Nombre Noir, Shiseido, 1981; Mitsouko, Guerlain, 1919; Pour Un Homme, Caron, 1934.




Main article: History of perfume
Egyptian scene depicting the preparation of Lily perfume
Egyptian scene depicting the preparation of Lily perfume
Etruscan perfume vase shaped like a female head
Etruscan perfume vase shaped like a female head

The word perfume used today derives from the Latin "per fumum", meaning through smoke. Perfumery, or the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt but was developed and further refined by the Romans and Persians. Although perfume and perfumery also existed in East Asia, much of its fragrances are incense based.

The world's first recorded chemist is considered to be a person named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the second millennium BC in Mesopotamia.[1]

Recently, archaeologists have uncovered what is believed to be the world's oldest perfumes in Pyrgos, Cyprus. The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years. The perfumes were discovered in an ancient perfumery factory. At least 60 distilling stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were found in the 43,000-square-foot (4,000 m2) factory.[2] In ancient times people used herbs and spices, like almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, bergamot, but not flowers.[3]

The Arabian chemist, Al-Kindi (Alkindus), wrote in the 9th century a book on perfumes which he named ‘Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations’. It contained more than hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. The book also described one hundred and seven methods and recipes for perfume-making, and even the perfume making equipment, like the alembic, still bears its Arabic name[4].

The Persian Muslim doctor and chemist Avicenna (also known as Ibn Sina) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose. Until his discovery, liquid perfumes were mixtures of oil and crushed herbs, or petals which made a strong blend. Rose water was more delicate, and immediately became popular. Both of the raw ingredients and distillation technology significantly influenced western perfumery and scientific developments, particularly chemistry.

Knowledge of perfumery came to Europe as early as the 14th century due partially to the spread of Islam. But it was the Hungarians who ultimately introduced the first modern perfume. Made of scented oils blended in an alcohol solution, the first modern perfume was made in 1370 at the command of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary and was known throughout Europe as Hungary Water. The art of perfumery prospered in Renaissance Italy, and in the 16th century, Italian refinements were taken to France by Catherine de' Medici's personal perfumer, Rene le Florentin. His laboratory was connected with her apartments by a secret passageway, so that no formulas could be stolen en route. France quickly became the European center of perfume and cosmetic manufacture. Cultivation of flowers for their perfume essence, which had begun in the 14th century, grew into a major industry in the south of France. During the Renaissance period, perfumes were used primarily by royalty and the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from the sanitary practices of the day. Partly due to this patronage, the western perfumery industry was created. By the 18th century, aromatic plants were being grown in the Grasse region of France to provide the growing perfume industry with raw materials. Even today, France remains the centre of the European perfume design and trade.


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. Various sources differ considerably in the definitions of perfume types. The concentration by percent/volume of perfume oil is as follows:

  • Perfume extract (Extrait): 15-40% (IFRA: typical 20%) aromatic compounds
  • Eau de Parfum (EdP): 10-20% (typical ~15%) aromatic compounds. Sometimes listed as "eau de perfume".
  • Eau de Toilette (EdT): 5-15% (typical ~10%) aromatic compounds
  • Eau de Cologne (EdC): Chypre citrus type perfumes with 3-8% (typical ~5%) aromatic compounds
  • Splash and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compounds

Perfume oil is necessarily diluted with a solvent because undiluted oils (natural or synthetic) contain high concentrations of chemical components (natural or otherwise) that will likely result in allergic reactions and possibly injury when applied directly to skin or clothing. As well, the scents in pure perfume oils are far too concentrated to smell pleasant. By far the most common solvent for perfume oil dilution is ethanol or a mixture of ethanol and water. Perfume oil can also be diluted by means of neutral-smelling liquid oils such as fractionated coconut oil, or liquid waxes such as jojoba oil.

The intensity and longevity of a perfume bases on the concentration, intensity and longevity of the used aromatic compounds (natural essential oils / perfume oils): 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.

Men's fragrances are rarely as EdP or perfume extracts. As well, women's fragrances are rarely sold in EdC concentrations. Although this gender specific naming trend is common for assigning fragrance concentrations, it does not directly have anything to do with whether a fragrance was intended for men or women.

Furthermore, some fragrances with the same product name but having a different concentration name may not only differ in their dilutions, but actually use different perfume oil mixtures altogether. For instance, in order to make the EdT version of a fragrance brighter and fresher than its EdP, the EdT oil may be "tweaked" to contain slightly more top notes or fewer base notes. In some cases, words such as "extrême", "intense" or "concentrée", that might indicate aromatic concentration are sometimes completely different fragrances that relates only because of a similar perfume accord. An example of this would be Chanel‘s Pour Monsieur and Pour Monsieur Concentrée.

Eau de Cologne (EdC) since 1706 in Cologne, Germany is originally a specific fragrance and trademark. However outside of Germany the term has become generic for Chypre citrus perfumes (without fond notes).

Since 1994 in Germany are produced more than 100 different perfumes basing on natural sources with the feature to be skin protecting: They have ~1% aromatic compounds and are useful as scent with hoemostatic (homeopathic) effects; and ad Jojoba as perfumes, as (herpes-protecting) lip-gloss and as skin-care[citation needed].

Describing a perfume

Shelves of perfumes
Shelves of perfumes

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 useful guide to the general consumer in description of the experience of a scent. Nonetheless, connoisseurs of perfume can become extremely skillful at identifying components and origins of scents in the same manner as wine experts [5].

The most practical way to start describing a perfume is according to the elements of the fragrance notes of the scent or the family it belongs to, all of which affect the overall impression of a perfume from first application to the last lingering hint of scent[6][7]

Fragrance notes

Main article: Note (perfumery)

Perfume is described in a musical metaphor as having three sets of 'notes', making the harmonious chord of the scent. 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. 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.

Manufactures of perfumes usually publish perfume notes and typically they present it as fragrance pyramid, with the components listed in imaginative and abstract terms.

Olfactive families

Grouping perfumes, like any taxonomy, can never be a completely objective or final process. Many fragrances contain aspects of different families. Even a perfume designated as "single flower", however subtle, will have undertones of other aromatics. "True" unitary scents can rarely be found in perfumes as it requires the perfume to exist only as a singular aromatic material.

Classification by olfactive family is a starting point for a description of a perfume, but it cannot by itself denote the specific characteristic of that perfume.


The traditional classification which emerged around 1900 comprised the following categories:

  • Single Floral: Fragrances that are dominated by a scent from one particular flower; in French called a soliflore. (e.g. Serge Lutens' Sa Majeste La Rose, which is dominated by rose.)
  • Floral Bouquet: Containing the combination of several flowers in a scent.
  • Amber: A large fragrance class featuring the sweet slightly animalic scents of ambergris or labdanum, often combined with vanilla, flowers and woods. Can be enhanced by camphorous oils and incense resins, which bring to mind Victorian era imagery of the Middle East and Far East.
  • Wood: Fragrances that are dominated by woody scents, typically of agarwood, sandalwood and cedar. Patchouli, with its camphoraceous smell, is commonly found in these perfumes.
  • Leather: A family of fragrances which features the scents of honey, tobacco, wood and wood tars in its middle or base notes and a scent that alludes to leather.
  • Chypre: Meaning Cyprus in French, this includes fragrances built on a similar accord consisting of bergamot, oakmoss, patchouli, and labdanum. This family of fragrances is named after a perfume by François Coty. A notable example is Mitsouko (a popular name for girls in Japanese) by Guerlain.
  • Fougère: Meaning Fern in French, built on a base of lavender, coumarin and oakmoss. Houbigant's Fougère Royale pioneered the use of this base. Many men's fragrances belong to this family of fragrances, which is characterized by its sharp herbaceous and woody scent.


Since 1945, due to great advances in the technology of perfume creation (i.e., compound design and synthesis) as well as the natural development of styles and tastes; new categories have emerged to describe modern scents:

  • Bright Floral: combining the traditional Single Floral & Floral Bouquet categories.
  • Green: a lighter and more modern interpretation of the Chypre type.
  • Oceanic/Ozone: the newest category in perfume history, appearing in 1991 with Christian Dior's Dune. A very clean, modern smell leading to many of the modern androgynous perfumes.
  • Citrus or Fruity: An old fragrance family that until recently consisted mainly of "freshening" eau de colognes due to the low tenacity of citrus scents. Development of newer fragrance compounds has allowed for the creation of primarily citrus fragrances.
  • Gourmand: scents with "edible" or "dessert"-like qualities. These often contain notes like vanilla and tonka bean, as well as synthetic components designed to resemble food flavors. An example is Thierry Mugler's Angel.

Fragrance wheel

Main article: Fragrance wheel
Fragrance Wheel perfume classification chart, ver. 1983
Fragrance Wheel perfume classification chart, ver. 1983

The Fragrance wheel is a relatively new classification method that is widely used in retail and in the fragrance industry. The method was created in 1983 by Michael Edwards, a consultant in the perfume industry, who designed his own scheme of fragrance classification.The new scheme was created in order to simplify fragrance classification and naming scheme, as well as to show the relationships between each of the individual classes[8].

The five standard families consist of Floral, Oriental, Woody,Fougère, and Fresh, with the former four families being more "classic" while the latter consisting of newer bright and clean smelling citrus and oceanic fragrances that have arrived due to improvements in fragrance technology. With the exception of the Fougère family, each of the families are in turn divided into sub-groups and arranged around a wheel.

Aromatics sources

Plant sources

Plants have long been used in perfumery as a source of essential oils and aroma compounds. These aromatics are usually secondary metabolites produced by plants as protection against herbivores, infections, as well as to attract pollinators. Plants are by far the largest source of fragrant compounds used in perfumery. The sources of these compounds may be derived from various parts of a plant. A plant can offer more than one source of aromatics, for instance the aerial portions and seeds of coriander have remarkably different odors from each other. Orange leaves, blossoms, and fruit zest are the respective sources of petit grain, neroli, and orange oils.

Animal sources

  • Ambergris: Lumps of oxidized fatty compounds, whose precursors were secreted and expelled by the Sperm Whale. Ambergris is commonly referred to as "amber" in perfumery and should not be confused with yellow amber, which is used in jewelry.
  • Castoreum: Obtained from the odorous sacs of the North American beaver.
  • Civet: Also called Civet Musk, this is obtained from the odorous sacs of the civets, animals in the family Viverridae, related to the Mongoose. The World Society for the Protection of Animals investigated African civets caught for this purpose.[9]
  • Honeycomb: From the honeycomb of the Honeybee. Both beeswax and honey can be solvent extracted to produce an absolute. Beeswax is extracted with ethanol and the ethanol evaporated to produce beeswax absolute.
  • Musk: Originally derived from the musk sacs from the Asian musk deer, it has now been replaced by the use of synthetic musks which usually are called “white musk”.

Other natural sources

  • Lichens: Commonly used lichens include oakmoss and treemoss thalli.
  • "Seaweed": Distillates are sometimes used as essential oil in perfumes. An example of a commonly used seaweed is Fucus vesiculosus, which is commonly referred to as bladder wrack. Natural seaweed fragrances are rarely used due to their higher cost and lower potency than synthetics.

Synthetic sources

Main article: Aroma compound

Many modern perfumes contain synthetic odorants synthesized. Synthetics can provide fragrances which are not found in nature. For instance, Calone, a compound of synthetic origin, imparts a fresh ozonous metallic marine scent that is widely used in contemporary perfumes. Synthetic aromatics are often used as an alternate source of compounds that are not easily obtained from natural sources. For example, linalool and coumarin are both naturally occurring compounds that can be inexpensively synthesized from terpenes. Orchid scents (typically salicylates) are usually not obtained directly from the plant itself but are instead synthetically created to match the fragrant compounds found in various orchids.

The majority of the world's synthetic aromatics are created by relatively few companies. They include:

Each of these companies patents several processes for the production of aromatic synthetics annually.


Natural and synthetics are used for their different odor characteristics in perfumery

Naturals Synthetics
Variance Vary by the times and locations where they are harvested. It's much more difficult to produce consistent products with equivalent odor over years of harvest. As such, the perfumer has to "manually" balance-out the natural variations of the ingredients in order to maintain the quality of the perfume. Much more consistent than natural aromatics. However, differences in organic synthesis may result in minute differences in concentration of impurities. If these impurities have low smell (detection) thresholds, the differences in the scent of the synthetic aromatic will be significant.
Components Thousands of chemical compounds. Depending on purity, consists primarily of one chemical compound.
Scent Uniqueness Bears a somewhat similar scent to its originating material, depending on the extraction method. Similar to natural scents if the compounds are the same. Novel scent compounds not mimicking natural compounds however, bear little scent likeness to natural materials.
Scent Complexity Deep and complex fragrance notes. Softer with subtle scent nuances. Pure and pronounced fragrance notes. Structural and defined.
Price Perfume composed of largely natural materials are usually much more expensive. Perfumes using largely synthetic aromatics can be available at widely-affordable prices. However, synthetic aromatics and perfumes are not necessarily cheaper than naturals.

Obtaining natural odorants

Before perfumes can be composed, the odorants used in various perfume compositions must first be obtained. Synthetic odorants are produced through organic synthesis and purified. Odorants from natural sources require the use of various methods to extract the aromatics from the raw materials. The results of the extraction are either essential oils, absolutes, concretes, or butters, depending on the amount of waxes in the extracted product. [10]

All these techniques will, to a certain extent, distort the odor of the aromatic compounds obtained from the raw materials. This is due to the use of heat, harsh solvents, or through exposure to oxygen in the extraction process which will denature the aromatic compounds, which either change their odor character or renders them odorless.

  • Maceration/Solvent extraction: The most used and economically important technique for extracting aromatics in the modern perfume industry. Raw materials are submerged in a solvent that can dissolve the desired aromatic compounds. Maceration lasts anywhere from hours to months. Fragrant compounds for woody and fibrous plant materials are often obtained in this manner as are all aromatics from animal sources. The technique can also be used to extract odorants that are too volatile for distillation or easily denatured by heat. Commonly used solvents for maceration/solvent extraction include hexane, and dimethyl ether. The product of this process is called a "concrete".
    • Supercritical fluid extraction: A relatively new technique for extracting fragrant compounds from a raw material, which often employs Supercritical CO2. Due to the low heat of process and the relatively nonreactive solvent used in the extraction, the fragrant compounds derived often closely resemble the original odor of the raw material.
    • Ethanol extraction: A type of solvent extraction used to extract fragrant compounds directly from dry raw materials, as well as the impure oily compounds materials resulting from solvent extraction or enfleurage. Ethanol extraction is not used to extract fragrance from fresh plant materials since these contain large quantities of water, which will also be extracted into the ethanol.
  • Distillation: A common technique for obtaining aromatic compounds from plants, such as orange blossoms and roses. The raw material is heated and the fragrant compounds are re-collected through condensation of the distilled vapour.
    • Steam distillation: Steam from boiling water is passed through the raw material, which drives out their volatile fragrant compounds. The condensate from distillation are settled in a Florentine flask. This allows for the easy separation of the fragrant oils from the water. The water collected from the condensate, which retains some of the fragrant compounds and oils from the raw material is called hydrosol and sometimes sold. This is most commonly used for fresh plant materials such as flowers, leaves, and stems.
    • Dry/destructive distillation: The raw materials are directly heated in a still without a carrier solvent such as water. Fragrant compounds that are released from the raw material by the high heat often undergo anhydrous pyrolysis, which results in the formation of different fragrant compounds, and thus different fragrant notes. This method is used to obtain fragrant compounds from fossil amber and fragrant woods where an intentional "burned" or "toasted" odor is desired.
    • Fractionation: Through the use of a fractionation column, different fractions distilled from a material can be selectively excluded to manipulated the scent of the final product. Although the product is more expensive, this is sometimes performed to remove unpleasant or undesirable scents of a material and affords the perfumer more control over their composition process.
  • Expression: Raw material is squeezed or compressed and the oils are collected. Of all raw materials, only the fragrant oils from the peels of fruits in the citrus family are extracted in this manner since the oil is present in large enough quantities as to make this extraction method economically feasible.
  • Enfleurage: Absorption of aroma materials into wax and then extracting the odorous oil with ethyl alcohol. Extraction by enfleurage was commonly used when distillation was not possible because some fragrant compounds denature through high heat. This technique is not commonly used in the present day industry due to its prohibitive cost and the existence of more efficient and effective extraction methods. [6]

Fragrant extracts

Although fragrant extracts are known to the general public as the generic term "essential oils", a more specific language is used in the fragrance industry to describe the source, purity, and technique used to obtain a particular fragrant extract.

Of these extracts, only absolutes, essential oils, and tinctures are directly used to formulate perfumes.

  • Absolute: Fragrant materials that are purified from a pommade or concrete by soaking them in ethanol. By using a slightly hydrophilic compound such as ethanol, most of the fragrant compounds from the waxy source materials can be extracted without dissolving any of the fragrantless waxy molecules. Absolutes are usually found in the form of an oily liquid.
  • Concrete: Fragrant materials that have been extracted from raw materials through solvent extraction using volatile hydrocarbons. Concretes usually contain a large amount of wax due to the ease in which the solvents dissolve various hydrophobic compounds. As such concretes are usually further purified through distillation or ethanol based solvent extraction. Concretes are typically either waxy or resinous solids or thick oily liquids.
  • Essential oil: Fragrant materials that have been extracted from a source material directly through distillation or expression and obtained in the form of an oily liquid. Oils extracted through expression are sometimes called expression oils.
  • Pomade: A fragrant mass of solid fat created from the enfleurage process, in which odorous compounds in raw materials are adsorbed into animal fats. Pommades are found in the form of an oily and sticky solid.
  • Tincture: Fragrant materials produced by directly soaking and infusing raw materials in ethanol. Tinctures are typically thin liquids. [6]

Products from different extraction methods are known under different names even though their starting materials are the same. For instance, orange blossoms from Citrus aurantium that have undergone solvent extraction produces "orange blossom absolute" but that which have been steam distilled is known as "neroli oil".

Composing perfumes

Perfume compositions are an important part of many industries ranging from the luxury goods sectors, food services industries, to manufacturers of various household chemicals. The purpose of using perfume or fragrance compositions in these industries is to affect customers through their sense of smell and entice them into purchasing the perfume or perfumed product. As such there is significant interest in producing a perfume formulation that people will find aesthetically pleasing.

The perfumer

Main article: Perfumer

The job of composing perfumes that will sell is left up to an expert on perfume composition or known in the fragrance industry as the perfumer. They are also sometimes referred to affectionately as a "Nez" (French for nose) due to their fine sense of smell and skill in smell composition.

The composition of a perfume typically begins with a brief by the perfumer's employer or an outside customer. The customers to the perfumer or their employers, are typically fashion houses or large corporations of various industries. The perfumer will then go through the process of blending multiple perfume mixtures and sell the formulation to the customer, often with modifications of the composition of the perfume.

The perfume composition will then be either used to enhance another product as a functional fragrance (shampoos, make-up, detergents, car interiors, etc.), or marketed and sold directly to the public as a fine fragrance.[5]


Paper blotters are commonly used by perfumers to sample and smell perfumes and odorants.
Paper blotters are commonly used by perfumers to sample and smell perfumes and odorants.

Although there is no single "correct" technique for the formulation of a perfume, there are general guidelines as to how a perfume can be constructed from a concept. Although many ingredients do not contribute to the smell of a perfume, many perfumes include colorants and anti-oxidants to improve the marketability and shelf life of the perfume, respectively.

Basic framework

Perfume oils usually contain tens to hundreds of ingredients and these are typically organized in a perfume for the specific role they will play. These ingredients can be roughly grouped into four groups:

  • Primary scents: Can consist of one or a few main ingredients for a certain concept, such as "rose". Alternatively, multiple ingredients can be used together to create an "abstract" primary scent that does not bear a resemblance to a natural ingredient. For instance, jasmine and rose scents are commonly blends for abstract floral fragrances. Cola flavourant is a good example of an abstract primary scent.
  • Modifiers: These ingredients alter the primary scent to give the perfume a certain desired character: for instance, fruit esters may be included in a floral primary to create a fruity floral; calone and citrus scents can be added to create a "fresher" floral. The cherry scent in cherry cola can be considered a modifier.
  • Blenders: A large group of ingredients that smooth out the transitions of a perfume between different "layers" or bases. Common blending ingredients include linalool and hydroxycitronellal.
  • Fixatives: Used to support the primary scent by bolstering it. Many resins and wood scents, and amber bases are used as fixatives.

The top, middle, and base notes of a fragrance may have separate primary scents and supporting ingredients.

The perfume's fragrance oils are then blended with ethyl alcohol and water, aged in tanks for a minimum of 14 days and filtered through processing equipment to remove any sediment and particles before the solution can be filled into the perfume bottles.[citation needed]

Fragrance bases

Instead of building a perfume from "ground up", many modern perfumes and colognes are made using fragrance bases or simply bases. Each base is essentially modular perfume that is blended from essential oils and aromatic chemicals, and formulated with a simple concept such as "fresh cut grass" or "juicy sour apple". Many of Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria line, with their simple fragrance concepts, are good examples of what perfume fragrance bases are like.

The effort used in developing bases by fragrance companies or individual perfumers may equal that of a marketed perfume, since they are useful in that they are reusable. On top of its reusability, the benefit in using bases for construction are quite numerous:

  1. Ingredients with "difficult" or "overpowering" scents that are tailored into a blended base may be more easily incorporated into a work of perfume
  2. A base may be better scent approximations of a certain thing than the extract of the thing itself. For example, a base made to embody the scent for "fresh dewy rose" might be a better approximation for the scent concept of a rose after rain than plain rose oil. Flowers whose scents cannot be extracted, such as gardenia or hyacinth, are composed as bases from data derived from headspace technology.
  3. A perfumer can quickly rough out a concept from a brief by cobbling together multiple bases, then present it for feedback. Smoothing out the "edges" of the perfume can be done after a positive response.

Reverse engineering

Creating perfumes through reverse engineering with analytical techniques such as GC/MS can reveal the "general" formula for any particular perfume. The difficulty of GC/MS analysis arises due to the complexity of a perfume's ingredients, this is particularly due to presence of natural essential oils and other ingredients consisting of complex chemical mixtures. However, "anyone armed with good GC/MS equipment and experienced in using this equipment can today, within days, find out a great deal about the formulation of any perfume... customers and competitors can analyze most perfumes more or less precisely."[11]

Antique or badly preserved perfumes undergoing this analysis can also be difficult due to the numerous degradation by-products and impurities that may have resulted from breakdown of the odorous compounds. Ingredients and compounds can usually be ruled out or identified using gas chromatograph (GC) smellers, which allow individual chemical components to be identified both through their physical properties and their scent.

Reverse engineering of best-selling perfumes in the market is a very common practice in the fragrance industry due to the relative simplicity of operating GC equipment, the pressure to produce marketable fragrances, and the highly lucrative nature of perfume market.

Health and environmental issues

Perfume ingredients, regardless of natural or synthetic origins, may all cause health or environmental problems when used or abused in substantial quantities. Although the areas are under active research, much remains to be learned about the effects of fragrance on human health and the environment.



Evidence in peer-reviewed journals shows that some fragrances can cause asthmatic reactions even when the participants could not actually smell the fragrances[12]. Many fragrance ingredients can cause allergic skin reactions[13] or nausea.[14][15][16]

In some cases, an excessive use of perfumes may cause allergic reactions of the skin. For instance, acetophenone, ethyl acetate[citation needed] and acetone[citation needed] while present in many perfumes, are also known or potential respiratory allergens. Nevertheless this may be misleading, since the harm presented by many of these chemicals (either natural or synthetic) is dependent on environmental conditions and their concentrations in a perfume. For instance, linalool, which is listed as an irritant, causes skin irritation when it degrades to peroxides, however the use of antioxidants in perfumes or reduction in concentrations can prevent this.

Some research on natural aromatics have shown that many contain compounds that cause skin irritation[17], However some studies, such as IFRA's research claim that opoponax is too dangerous to be used in perfumery, still lack scientific consensus [18]. It is also true that sometimes inhalation alone can cause skin irritation.


There is scientific evidence that some common ingredients, like certain synthetic musks, can disrupt the balance of hormones in the human body (endocrine disruption)[19] [20] and even cause cancer (nitro-musks). Some natural aromatics, such as oakmoss absolutes, contain allergens and carcinogenic compounds [17] [21].



Synthetic musks are pleasant in smell and relatively inexpensive, as such they are often employed in large quantities to cover the unpleasant scent of laundry detergents and many personal cleaning products. Due to their large scale use, several types of synthetic musks have been found in human fat and milk [3], as well as in the sediments and waters of the Great Lakes [22]. [23]

These pollutants may pose additional health and environmental problems when they enter human and animal diets.

Species endangerment

The demands for aromatic materials like sandalwood, agarwood, musk has led to the endangerment of these species as well as illegal trafficking and harvesting.

Safety regulation

The perfume industry in the US is not directly regulated by the FDA, instead the FDA controls the safety of perfumes through their ingredients and require that they be tested to the extent that they are Generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Due to the need for protection of trade secrets, companies rarely give the full listing of ingredients regardless of their effects on health. In Europe, the mandatory listing of any of a number of chemicals thought to be hazardous has just begun. As well many old perfumes of like chypres and fougeres classes, which require the use of oakmoss extract, are being reformulated because of these new regulations.

reserving perfume

Fragrance compounds in perfumes will degrade or break down if improperly stored in the presence of:

Proper preservation of perfumes involve keeping them away from sources of heat and storing them where they will not be exposed to light. An opened bottle will keep its aroma intact for several years, as long as it is well stored.[5] However the presence of oxygen in the head space of the bottle and environmental factors will in the long run alter the smell of the fragrance.

Perfumes are best preserved when kept in light-tight aluminium bottles or in their original packaging when not in use, and refrigerated at a relatively low temperatures between 3-7 degrees Celsius. Although it is difficult to completely remove oxygen from the headspace of a stored flask of fragrance, opting for spray dispensers instead of rollers and "open" bottles will minimize oxygen exposure. Sprays also have the advantage of isolating fragrance inside a bottle and preventing it from mixing with dust, skin, and detritus, which would degrade and alter the quality of a perfume.

Famous perfumes classified by year of creation

Year Name Company Perfumer
1390 Fiori di Capri Carthusia
1709 Farina Eau de Cologne Johann Maria Farina Johann Maria Farina (1685-1766)
1714 Kölnisch Wasser Farina Gegenüber Johann Maria Farina
1780 Royal English Leather Creed
1789 Number Six Caswell-Massey
1792 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser 4711 Wilhelm Muhlens
1798 Eau de Lubin Parfum Lubin Pierre François Lubin
1799 Gold Medal Atkinsons
1806 Jean Marie Farina Roger & Gallet
1815 Freshman Truefitt & Hill Francis Truefitt
1821 Lavender Floris
1828 Pot Pourri Santa Maria Novella
1853 Eau de Cologne Imperial Guerlain Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain
1862 Fantasia de Fleurs Creed
1872 Hammam Bouquet Penhaligon's William Henry Penhaligon
1889 Jicky Guerlain Aimé Guerlain
c. 1900 Bouquet Nouveau Roger & Gallet
1901 Edwardian Bouquet Floris
1902 Blenheim Bouquet Penhaligon's William Henry Penhaligon
1904 Mouchoir de Monsieur Guerlain Jacques Guerlain
1908 Florida Water Murray & Lanman
c.1910 Astris L.T. Piver L.T. Piver
c.1912 Chypre D'Orsay
1911 English Fern Penhaligon's William Henry Penhaligon
c. 1911 Illusion Drake
c.1911 Narcise Noir Parfums Caron
1912 L'Heure Bleue Guerlain Jacques Guerlain
1912 Quelques Fleurs L'Original Houbigant
1913 April Violets Yardley
c. 1913 La Feuilleraie Gueldy
c.1913 Muguet Coty
1913 Violette Précieuse Parfums Caron Ernest Daltroff
1916 Acqua di Parma Colonia Acqua di Parma
1917 Chypre de Coty François Coty François Coty
1919 Mitsouko Guerlain Jacques Guerlain
1919 Tabac Blond Caron Ernest Daltroff
1921 N°5 Chanel Ernest Beaux
1922 June Roses Morny
1922 No. 22 Chanel Ernest Beaux
1922 Nuit de Noël Caron Ernest Daltroff
1924 Cuir de Russie Chanel Ernest Beaux
c.1925 Mon Studio Calliste
c.1925 My Sin Lanvin
1925 Shalimar Guerlain Jacques Guerlain
1926 Bois des Îles Chanel Ernest Beaux
1926 Paris Coty
1927 Arpège Lanvin André Fraysse
1927 Bellodgia Caron Ernest Daltroff
1927 L'Aimant Coty Francois Coty, Vincent Roubert
1928 Soir de Paris Bourjois Ernest Beaux
1929 Liu Guerlain Jacques Guerlain
1930 Acqua di Parma Profumo Acqua di Parma
1930 Joy Jean Patou Henri Alméras
1932 Je Reviens House of Worth Maurice Blanchet
1932 Tabu Dana Jean Carles
1933 Vol de Nuit Guerlain Jacques Guerlain
1933 Angélique Encens Creed
1934 Blue Grass Elizabeth Arden Fragonard
1934 Dunhill for Men Alfred Dunhill
1934 Pour Un Homme Caron Ernest Daltroff
1935 Nuit de Longchamp Parfum Lubin
1936 French Cancan Caron Ernest Daltroff
c.1936 Kobako Bourjois
1937 Colony Patou
1938 Dancing Time Durbarry
1939 It's You Arden
1940 Snuff Schiaparelli
1943 Arôme 3 D'Orsay
1944 Bandit Robert Piguet Germaine Cellier
1944 Femme Rochas Edmond Roudnitska
1945 White Shoulders Elizabeth Arden
1946 Coeur-Joie Nina Ricci Germaine Cellier
1946 Ma Griffe Carven Jean Carles
1947 Vent Vert Balmain Germaine Cellier
1948 Fracas Robert Piguet Germaine Cellier
1948 L'Air du Temps Nina Ricci Françis Fabron
1949 Rose Caron Michel Morsetti
1949 English Leather Dana
1950 Orange Spice Creed
1951 Eau d'Hermès Hermès Edmond Roudnitska
1951 Prince Douka Marquay
1952 Wind Song Prince Matchabelli Georges V. Matchabelli
1952 Quadrille Balenciaga
1953 Youth Dew[1][2] Estée Lauder Estée Lauder
1954 Electrique Max Factor
1954 Poivre Caron Michel Morsetti
1955 Chanel Pour Monsieur Chanel Henri Robert
1955 Pine Sylvestre Silvestre Lino Vidal
1956 Diorissimo Christian Dior Edmond Roudnitska
1957 Le De Givenchy
1957 L'Interdit (original) Givenchy Francis Fabron
1959 Monsieur de Givenchy Givenchy Michel Hy
1959 Cabochard Parfums Grès Bernard Chant
1960 Unforgettable Avon
1961 Eau d'Hadrien Annick Goutal Annick Goutal
1961 Vetiver Guerlain Jean-Paul Guerlain
1962 Bal a Versailles Jean Desprez Jean Desprez
1963 Diorling Christian Dior Paul Vacher
1964 Idole de Lubin Parfum Lubin
1965 Aramis Aramis
1966 Eau Sauvage Christian Dior Edmond Roudnitska
1967 Climat Lancôme
1968 Irisia Creed
1969 Ô Lancôme Robert Gonnon
1969 Chamade Guerlain Jean-Paul Guerlain
1970 Equipage Hermès Guy Robert
1970 Sélection Verte Creed
1971 No. 19 Chanel Henri Robert
1972 Diorella Christian Dior Edmond Roudnitska
1972 Fleurissimo Creed
1973 Charlie Revlon Harry A. Cuttler
1973 Ciara Revlon
1974 Baby Soft Love's
1974 Cristalle Chanel Henri Robert
1974 Eau de Guerlain Guerlain Jean-Paul Guerlain
1975 Zeste Mandarine Pamplemousse Creed
1976 Lily of the Valley Penhaligon's
1976 Violetta Penhaligon's
1976 Z-14 Halston Vincent Marsello
1977 Opium Yves Saint-Laurent Jean-Louis Sieuzac
1978 Anaïs Anaïs Cacharel Raymond Chaillan/Roger Pellegrino
1978 Azzaro Pour Homme Azzaro Gérard Anthony, Martin Heiddenreich, Richard Wirtz
1978 Bluebell Penhaligon's Michael Pickthall
1978 Cinnabar Estée Lauder
1978 Magie Noire Lancôme G. Goupy / J-C Niel
1978 White Linen Estée Lauder Sophia Grojsman
1979 Nahéma Guerlain Jean-Paul Guerlain
1980 Ivoire Balmain Francis Camail
1980 Patou Pour Homme Jean Patou Jean Kerleo
1981 Kouros Yves Saint-Laurent Pierre Bourdon
1981 Must de Cartier Cartier Jean-Jacques Diener
1981 Nombre Noir Shiseido Jean-Yves Leroy
1981 Giorgio Giorgio Beverly Hills Group Work: M.L. Quince, Francis Camail, Harry Cuttler
1982 Drakkar Noir Guy Laroche Pierre Wargnye
1982 Trussardi Trussardi
1982 Quorum Antonio Puig
1983 Paris Yves Saint-Laurent Sophia Grojsman
1984 Coco Chanel Jacques Polge
1985 Obsession Calvin Klein Jean Guichard
1985 Poison Christian Dior Jean Guichard
1985 Green Irish Tweed Creed Oliver Creed
1986 Prescriptives Calyx Prescriptives Sophia Grojsman
1987 Lou Lou Cacharel Jean Guichard
1988 Cool Water Davidoff Pierre Bourdon
1988 Eternity Calvin Klein Sophia Grojsman
1988 Fahrenheit Christian Dior Jean-Louis Sieuzac, Maurice Roger
1989 Red Door Elizabeth Arden Carlos Benaim, Olivier Gillotin
1989 Samsara Guerlain Jean-Paul Guerlain
1990 Trésor Lancôme Sophia Grojsman
1991 Gendarme Gendarme
1992 Angel Thierry Mugler Olvier Cresp
1992 Bois de Violette Serge Lutens Christopher Sheldrake
1992 L'eau d'Issey Issey Miyake Jacques Cavallier
1992 Feminitè du Bois Shiseido Christopher Sheldrake
1993 Jean-Paul Gaultier Classique Jean-Paul Gaultier Jacques Cavallier
1994 CK One Calvin Klein Harry Fremont and Alberto Morillas
1995 24, Faubourg Hermès Maurice Roucel
1995 Hugo Hugo Boss Francis Kurkdjian/Creations Aromatiques
1995 Le Mâle Jean-Paul Gaultier Francis Kurkdjian
1995 Millésime Impérial Creed
1996 Acqua di Gió Pour Homme Giorgio Armani Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier
1996 Angel Men/A*Men Thierry Mugler
1996 Dolce Vita Christian Dior Pierre Bourdon and Maurice Roger
1996 Spring Flower Creed Olivier Creed
1996 Tommy Girl Tommy Hilfiger
1996 Organza Givenchy Sophie Labbé
1997 Envy Gucci Maurice Roucel
1997 Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka Annick Menardo
1998 Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior Annick Menardo
1998 Bulgari Black Bulgari Annick Menardo
1998 Noa Cacharel Olivier Cresp
1999 Dzing! L'Artisan Olivia Giacobetti
1999 J’Adore Christian Dior Calice Becker
2000 En Passant Frederic Malle Olivia Giacobetti
2000 Tea for Two L'Artisan Olivia Giacobetti
2001 1872 Clive Christian
2001 Chergui Serge Lutens Christopher Sheldrake
2001 Coco Mademoiselle Chanel Jacques Polge
2001 Light Blue Dolce & Gabbana Olivier Cresp
2001 Mugler Cologne Thierry Mugler Alberto Morillas
2001 No. 1 Clive Christian
2001 Nu Yves Saint-Laurent Jacques Cavallier
2001 X Clive Christian
2002 Addict Christian Dior Thierry Wasser
2002 Black Cashmere Donna Karan
2002 2 Comme des Garçons
2002 Chance Chanel Jacques Polge
2002 M7 Yves Saint Laurent Alberto Morillas, Jacques Cavallier
2003 100% Love Shaping Room Sophia Grojsman
2003 Amor Amor Cacharel Laurent Bruyere, Dominque Ropion
2003 Beyond Paradise Estée Lauder
2003 Brit Burberry
2003 Narciso Rodriguez For Her Narciso Rodriguez Francis Kurkdjian & Christine Nagel
2004 Eau des Merveilles Hermès Ralf Schwieger / Nathalie Feisthauer
2004 Flowerbomb Viktor & Rolf Olivier Polge / Carlos Benaim / Domitille Bertier
2004 Pure Poison Christian Dior
2005 Alien Theirry Mugler Dominique Ropion / Laurent Bruyere
2005 Chinatown Bond No. 9 Aurelien Guichard
2005 Euphoria Calvin Klein
2005 Un Jardin sur le Nil Hermès Jean-Claude Ellena
2006 Black Orchid Tom Ford
2006 Terre d'Hermès Hermès Jean-Claude Ellena
2006 Rose 31 Le Labo Daphne Bugey
2006 Lily & Spice Penhaligon's
2006 Insolence Guerlain Maurice Roucel
2007 Fleur du Mâle Jean-Paul Gaultier Francis Kurkdjian
2007 Prada Infusion d'Iris Prada
2007 Gucci by Gucci Gucci
2007 Black Roberto Cavalli
2008 8 88 Comme des Garçons

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