A dab of parfum as one dashes out of the house, is one of the great pleasures of life – and the most delightful finishing touch, by the strictest sartorial standards.
I used to choose my perfume solely on the design of the bottle and the packaging, (I know right? But those unbelievably cute bottles are very seductive.) Not any more, now that I am older and wiser my methods have become a little more sophisticated.
Nowadays, I tend to buy only from actual perfume houses. I stay away from designer perfumes or celebrity endorsed products. (Celebrity endorsed tend to be the very worst in terms of quality and sometimes ethics. They are out for a quick buck, so to speak) Even good quality perfumes from respectable design houses, can be rejected. In my case, it is well known among my friends & colleagues, that I like Hermes as a brand and was given items from their fragrance range as gifts. Grateful as I am, for the kind thought, I am not keen on them and really would not suggest to anyone to give perfume as a gift. (unless you are familiar with the recipients taste.)
Avoiding expensive mistakes when buying fragrance.
#Choosing fragrance, takes time and patience. I try on a selection of scents, in person, but only one at a time, on any given day. Good perfume has top notes, (what we immediately perceive as smell) middle notes, (the actual scent that stays on the skin for several hours) and then a final note (towards the end). If you mix different fragrances, – the final result will not be representative of the actual fragrance we buy.
#The recommendation is to only apply perfume on clean bare skin, after bathing or showering. I love to spray my scarves and gloves too though. (Be warned as my method, may stain light silks or pale coloured cashmere)
#On my dressing table, I only keep one perfume at a time. Once the packaging is removed, perfume starts to deteriorate straight away. Keeping out of direct heat, sun, or strong light will help make it last longer. The lovely bottles are a delight for the eye, but ideally once opened, perfume should be used quickly. (Under 6 months)
#Less is more: Though some suggest we keep a portfolio of different fragrances, to suit our mood, I just keep the special one which is precious to me. Only make seasonal changes. For example I use different perfume in the winter and different in the summer. I enjoy the consistency and love it when the perfume becomes more me, so to speak. It becomes embedded, on my clothes and in wardrobe as a light fresh scent.
Fragrances come in different strengths, which partly determines the price range.
Parfum, sometimes known as extrait de parfum is the most concentrated form and usually very expensive. Concentration is generally between 20% to 30% for most parfums and contain far less alcohol than other fragrance types making them less likely to dry out the skin.
Pure Parfum lasts the longest; usually six to eight hours, it’s great for evenings, but do beware, as the scent can be overwhelming on the tube during the day. I rarely buy this, as it’s so expensive, and when I do, it’s reserved for evenings.
Eau de Parfum
Eau de parfum has the next highest concentration of fragrance (between 15% and 20%.) On average, eau de parfum will last for four to five hours. It is more affordable than parfums and more widely available. This is my regular choice, for every day wear.
Eau de Toilette
Eau de toilette is next down with concentration of between 5% and 15%. It is cheaper than eau de parfum and is one of the most popular types of fragrance available. fragrance will normally last for two to three hours. Some prefer Eau de toilette for day wear, while eau de parfum is considered nightwear. I just found out that it’s derived from the French term “faire sa toilette” which means getting ready.
Eau de Cologne
Eau de cologne, still lower concentration – about 2% to 4% percent of fragrance and more alcohol. It is cheaper than other types of fragrance however the scent generally only lasts for up to two hours. I sometimes use this in the summer, when eau de Parfums can be overwhelming. It generally comes in huge bottles, it’s inexpensive and great for splashing around. (Did you know: Originally eau de cologne referred to a traditional recipe that used herb and citrus notes with little anchoring with base notes.)
Eau fraiche is a newer product and will generally last less than two hours. Concentration is very low only 1% to 3%. of fragrance – the rest being alcohol and water. Though it’s probably an OK choice for hot, summer days, I prefer simply washing with a good French soap!
The story of perfume creation
Perfumes are synthesised in laboratories, by gifted, perfume creators. The base ingredients can be chemical compounds, or essential oils. Usually a mix. The cost of the base ingredient, will determine to some degree the cost of the product. For example anything made with pure essential oils, will always cost more.
Back in the glory days of couture fashion, the house designer would meet with the perfume creator for lunch. They would have a chat, eat something delicious, have a few glasses of wine and jot some perfume ideas on a napkin or two. The perfume creator would then go back to the lab, and create the perfume to suit the fashion designer’s clothes collection & style. It was mostly, a civilised affair and everyone would meet for champagne, celebrate and admire. The perfume was very much, a side line to the actual, fashion range.
Those were the good old days! The creation of today’s fashion perfumes will involve a huge marketing team, focus groups and other hangers on. Fragrance (as well as handbags and small accessories) are major sources of income for most fashion houses. The clothes are just the side line. So basically when buying a fragrance from a ‘fashion’ line, we will pay rather a lot, for marketing, advertising and brand value.
good deed of the day: please share with us, your favourite perfume and fragrance philosophy. Are you loyal to the same perfume or do you prefer change?
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