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FAQs about Perfume

by Andrea Sparks

Elegant woman putting on perfume

Smell is the strongest sense associated with emotion, so wearing a perfume that complements you is both important and personal. Discovering the perfect perfume for you is only part of the experience, however. Understanding how perfume works can help you wear your perfume in the most effective way. Read on to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about perfumes and fragrances.

Questions about Perfume:

  1. Why do perfumes smell different on different people?
    Perfumes react to your own body chemistry, making certain notes smell differently on your skin than someone else's. It's important to test perfumes out on your skin and allow the fragrance to settle, to see which scents complement you before purchasing a perfume. Changes in hormones, diet and medications can also alter the way a perfume smells on your skin, even if you've been wearing it for a long time, so it's important to have a variety of perfumes that suit you.

  2. What does the term "notes" mean in perfume?
    Most perfumes are made up of top, middle and base notes -- scents that have different molecular weights that cause them to develop at different rates when applied to the skin. Top notes are the first scent you notice in a perfume once the perfume has been applied to your skin. Top notes evaporate the most readily of all the scents in a perfume. Middle notes are the main body of the perfume's fragrance and take longer to develop on the skin than top notes. Middle notes are what classify the fragrance family, such as greens, florals, aldehydics, chypre, oriental, fougere and tobacco/leather, of a perfume. Base notes are the last scent to develop in a perfume and last the longest on the skin. Base notes also act as a fixative in the perfume, slowing down the evaporation of lighter notes and making the perfume last longer.

  3. What is the difference between an eau de cologne, eau de toilette and perfume?
    These terms refer to the concentration of fragrance oils added to a fragrance. Fragrance mixtures with the title "eau" (water) have a lower proportion of perfume oil to alcohol content. An eau de cologne generally has 2 to 5 percent concentration; eau de toilette has 4 to 10 percent concentration; and eau de perfume has 8 to 15 percent concentration of perfume oil.

  4. How can I make the smell of my perfume last longer?
    Applying perfume to moisturized skin is the most important key to making your perfume's scent last longer. Dry skin does not have the necessary oils for perfume to absorb into the skin, so your perfume will evaporate quickly if skin is not properly moisturized. Applying an unscented lotion or moisturizer before applying perfume can help your perfume's scent last. Layering your scents with lotions and other body products in the matching scent can help your perfume last throughout the day while also enhancing the fragrance of the perfume.

  5. How do I pick the right perfume for the right season and time of day?
    Light, fresh floral or citrus perfumes are better for warmer months because the warmth of the skin will cause the perfume to expand and release its fragrance. In the cooler months, this warming effect doesn't happen as readily, so a heavier, richer perfume is recommended. The same goes for daytime and evening perfumes. During the daytime, a lighter floral scent will be better and more appropriate for the workplace, while a deeper, musky or woody scent is ideal for the evening. Many perfumes also come with a specific recommendation for when to wear them.

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