What’s a perfume?

What’s a perfume?
6 August 2015 adddesign

What’s a perfume? What does it mean EDT or EDP? Lots of people use fragrances in everyday life, but they don’t know what’s inside a bottle.

A perfume is a mixture of:

  • a compound of natural and chemical products;
  • denatured alcohol;
  • water;
  • colorants or other additives (facultative).

The compound is the base that actually gives fragrance to the perfume. The alcohol is the medium that allows the fragrance to diffuse, thanks to its evaporation at room temperature. Normally the denatured alcohol is used in perfumery to avoid someone to swallow the fragrance, thanks to its bad bitter taste. Water is added to the mixture to lower the alcoholic degree of the mixture.

The concentration of the compound in alcohol determines the denomination of the fragrance:

  • EDC or Eau de Cologne or Cologne between 2% and 5% of compound in alcohol between 80° and 90°;
  • EDT or Eau de Toilette between 4% and 10% of compound in alcohol between 80° and 90°;
  • EDP or Eau de Parfum between 8% and 15% of compound in alcohol between 80° and 90°;
  • Parfum or Extrait between 15% and 30% of compound in alcohol at 96°.

It’s clear that more is the compound in the solution, more long-lasting and diffusive is the perfume. But it’s also important to underline that the structure of the compound is of fundamental importance in the determination of the performances of the fragrance.

Normally a visual representation of how a fragrance evolves is given in terms of “olfactory pyramid”.

A natural or a synthetic fragrant product is more or less long-lasting on the base of its physical and chemical properties. If it has a low longevity it is called top note, with a medium longevity it is called heart or middle note, otherwise it is called base note and it is very long-lasting.

A fragrance based on a given compound contains some notes that you perceive immediately when you spray it (top notes), other notes that give it the character and you perceive better after a while (heart or middle notes), and some others that constitutes the footprint of the fragrance, because they stay on your skin for hours (base notes).

A structure that fits well an EDC concentration will be based more on top and middle notes and less on base notes. On the contrary an EDP formula will be based more on middle and base notes and less on top notes.

But take care: the pyramid is only a formal representation of a fragrance. A perfume is a living creature and also a work of art, so reading an olfactory pyramid wouldn’t influence you too much…it’s always better to let it live on your skin!