Ancient Egyptians created the earliest perfumes over 4,000 years ago. Their skill with aromatic oils and essences influenced ancient Greek and Roman cultures, reached western Europe and established the principles of modern perfumery. Egyptians’ perfumery skills were so sophisticated that a perfume discovered in King Tut’s tomb was still fragrant thousands of years later.
Technology led to the invention of synthetic fragrances. In 1889, Aimé Guerlain created Jicky, the first fragrance combining both synthetic and natural ingredients. Chanel No. 5, a classic brand created in 1903, is completely synthetic. In fact, today’s top brands are either partially or wholly synthetic. Perfumes are named according to their percentage of oil fragrances. These include:
- Perfume/Parfum, the most intense (and priciest) concentration, contains 20%-30% oil and lasts six to eight hours.
- Eau de Parfum (EDP) contains 15%-20% oil and lasts four to five hours
- Eau de Toilette (EDT) contains 5%-15% oil and lasts one to three hours.
- Eau de Cologne (EDC) contains 2%-4% oil and lasts up to two hours.
How Perfume and Cologne Are Made
Making a perfume involves a 4-phase process. That process includes gathering ingredients, extracting the oil, blending oils, and aging the result.
- Gathering - This phase ensures enough of the raw fragrance source is available for processing. For example, one pound of solid gardenia perfume requires roughly 4,400 pounds of gardenia flowers. Factoring in how one perfume may contain dozens or hundreds of ingredients, it’s easy to understand how gathering fragrance sources could become complex. Fragrances are derived from plant, animal or synthetic sources.
- Extraction - The fragrance is separated from the raw material using expression, distillation, solvent extraction, enfleurage or maceration.
- Blending - A master perfumer determines how to blend the scents. After blending, the master scent is mixed with alcohol. During this stage, a fragrance’s concentration and intensity are created.
- Aging - Finally, some perfumes need aging to ensure the perfect scent. Only the finest perfumes require aging for months, possibly years.
Popular Perfume Brands
Michael Edwards, industry expert, developed the fragrance wheel, a classification tool that assigns fragrances according to the following 14 fragrance families. These families include:
- Soft Floral
- Soft Oriental
- Dry Woods
- Mossy Woods
- Woody Oriental
- Floral Oriental
- Aromatic Fougère
These have developed into some of the world’s greatest perfumes. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Black Opium by YSL (Oriental)
- Chanel No. 5 by Chanel (Soft Floral)
- Christian Dior J’adore (Floral)
- Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey (Woody Oriental)
- Jimmy Choo Women’s Perfume (Woody Oriental)
- La Vie Est Belle by Lancome (Floral Oriental)
- Paris Hilton Can Can (Floral Oriental)
- Thierry Mugler’s Angel (Woody Oriental)
- Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (Woody Oriental)
- Viva La Juicy by Juicy Couture (Woody Oriental)
Some more luxury options that people may consider indulging in include:
- DKNY Golden Delicious (Floral)
- Clive Christian No 1 Imperial Majesty (Woody Oriental)
- 24 Faubourg by Hermes (Mossy Woods)
- Joy Perfume by Jean Patou (Floral)
Popular Cologne Brands
Below are some popular men’s colognes and their fragrance families. Men’s colognes also fall into one of the 14 fragrance families. Despite what you may think, men’s fragrances are often more subtle than those for women.
- Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani (Floral)
- Ck One by Calvin Klein (Citrus)
- Cool Water by Davidoff (Aromatic Fougère)
- Dolce & Gabbana by Dolce & Gabbana (Aromatic Fougère)
- Eternity by Calvin Klein (Aromatic Fougère)
- L'eau D'issey by Issey Miyake (Water)
- Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana (Floral)
- Montblanc Legend by Mont Blanc (Aromatic Fougère)
- Obsession by Calvin Klein (Woody Oriental)
- Versace Eros by Versace (Woody Oriental)
- Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Eau De Parfum (Woody Oriental)
- Clive Christian ‘X‘ Perfume Spray (Dry Woods)
- Incense Oud Eau de Parfum by Kilian (Woody Oriental)
- Bond No. 9 Silver Bond Eau De Parfum Spray (Dry Woods)