Scent can do so much for people. It helps aid us with our memories and evokes a visceral reaction. The smell of lemons makes most people think of cleanliness, and real estate agents sometimes put one in the disposal of a sink for its aromatic appeal when people are house hunting. Disney’s main street smells (intentionally) like vanilla because it reminds people of chocolate and sweets, so they want more candy, and the odor released by freshly mown grass helps people relax. Baking bread is a smell everyone loves, but what about the scents we wear?
Aroma is More Than “Just A Smell”
There are many surprising uses for scent. Helping with memory, worship, and preventing people from smelling bad are only a few reasons we use fragrances. The right smells can help you focus your mind when studying and memorize more information or be more productive. The right aromas will help you sleep or wake up. Some scents reduce anxiety, make you feel safe, or help calm your nerves, while others help repel pests or attract you to certain people and places.
The power of scent is not a mystery. Bad smells can warn you of dangers like spoiled food or toxic chemicals. Meanwhile, the correct odors can make your body produce serotonin and dopamine, which regulate your mood and make you feel good. Because human memories are stored photographically throughout the brain, one of the parts of your mind that activate when you remember is related to your stored olfactory impressions. This is why we associate peppermint and cinnamon with the winter holidays, petrichor with rain, and certain spices with happy memories of our favorite meals with friends and family.
Types of Scents
Some smells are almost universally loved, like brewing coffee, vanilla, and freshly baked bread. Other smells are more a matter of personal taste. When it comes to making perfumes, colognes, and different wearable scents, each person is unique. However, older people generally tend toward stronger scents, and younger women often prefer sweet smells. In contrast, most women of any age enjoy fruits and florals, and men usually choose earthy, musky aromas to wear.
Some people choose to customize their fragrance based on the events, such as strong, heady smells for dates and evenings, lighter, more citrus or cucumber options in summer, and less overpowering, minimal aroma options for daytime wear. Whether you are looking to re-odorize your home or your body, thousands of choices are available.
The Six Types of Perfume
There are six distinct types of perfume. The difference is mainly in how you distribute your essential oils or fragrance extracts in a fragrance base. The proportions and the kind of base can vary significantly.
- Perfume or Parfum- Perfume usually costs more than the other types on this list because it has the highest concentration of scent at around 30% and lasts longer on your skin. You can get up to 24 hours of wear out of this scent.
- Perfume Oil- Perfume oils are alcohol and water-free. Instead, they use a secondary unscented or low odor oil as a carrier for your scented essential oils. These come in around 20% fragrance. However, it is important to note the difference between Perfume Oil and Perfume Oil Attars, which are pure, undiluted scented oils.
- Eau de Perfume or Eau de Parfum- Eau de Parfums are second only to perfume. The concentration of oils in this type of fragrance is around 20%. Typically you can expect this type of perfume to last most or all of a workday with 6 to 8 hours of wear.
- Eau de Toilette- An Eau de Toilette has 5 to 15% essential oil or fragrance extract in a base that is primarily made of alcohol. These last 2 to 4 hours, come in light spray bottles, and are often mistaken for perfume.
- Eau de Cologne- Eau de Cologne is among the lightest and most cost-effective scents with just 2 to 4% fragrance extract or essential oils. Cologne tends to come in large bottles because you need more, and it fades within about 2 hours. Cologne is favored by and marketed to men, but feminine versions are available.
- Eau Fraiche- Many people have never seen an Eau Fraiche since it is the least well-known and lightest concentration in the perfume family. This style of perfume is meant only as a mild refresher that lasts up to an hour with 1 to 3% fragrance ingredients for a mild scent. You might use this at the end of the workday if you wore an Eau de Perfume that faded and you wanted to go for a quick drink on the way home or spray a little when heading out to the grocery store than using a favorite more expensive perfume.
Other Scented Products
Most personal care items are available in a scented and unscented option. You may not always notice the smell of the products you put on, but most will have them unless you specifically seek out scent-free variants. If you test them for yourself, you’ll note that aftershave sunscreen, deodorant, lotions, soap, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, mousse, gel, bodyspray, and makeup (among others) all have their own aromas. It’s essential to keep this in mind when selecting personal fragrances because the smells will blend to give you a complete fragrance profile whether you consider it carefully or not.
What Are Fragrance Notes
Fragrance notes define and create a perfume, cologne, or other scented product. Most scents are not made up of a single smell like orange or rose. Instead, fragrances are a complex and enjoyable blend of many different notes. Some scents have a distinct dry-down process where the smell changes as you wear them because the different parts or notes evaporate at varying rates.
The most dominant note or notes are usually what determines how that scent is categorized. For example, a citrusy perfume with strong bergamot overtones can have musk, flowers, or other fruit notes as undertones, like supporting actors in a show. In this example, the star or predominant smell is bergamot, which is considered a citrus perfume. Meanwhile, a mostly rose or lavender-scented perfume would be regarded as a floral even if there’s a long list of other scents, all of which are from different categories. It’s not about how many notes the perfume has or which type of scent from which group is included most often, but rather the overall effect and most identifiable smell. Mostly this means it is the most considerable quantity as well, but not always if the odor is especially strong.
The List of Scents
The list of scents below is broken up into ten different smell categories. You can combine notes from any scent category, though not all combinations are pleasant. Layering similar scents can muddle or increase the effect, while incorporating different fragrance groups and notes will produce a completely new smell.
Aquatic scents are precisely what you’d expect. This group frequently contains the least understood and identified notes and evokes a sense of nature, rain, streams, or ocean water. These are generally light, fresh scents and make ideal summer components for those wishing to tailor a personal fragrance profile to the season or occasion.
- Cascalone- A lightly fruity watery scent with a touch of floral
- Calone- Like a sea breeze with a hint of fruit and florals similar to Cascalone
- Seaweed- This scent is a deep, green, salty ocean smell
- Oakmoss- This could easily go in the animal/musk or earthy category because it has hints of wood, amber, and musk
- Coral Reef- A deeper, more oceanic scent
- Seawater- A light, almost salty fragrance like a breeze off the ocean
- Cucumber- Self Explanatory (comes from cucumbers)
- Petrichor- Smells like nature or urban environments after the rain stops
Animal or musky scents make us think of sensuality in a masculine way since male animals typically produce musk. A few scents in this category aren’t animal products, but this is the least likely to be vegan-friendly of all the types of scents.
- Goat hair
Predictably, most citrus scents come from citrus plants. Specifically, the oils are often extracted from the peels of citrus fruits rather than stems, leaves, or the fruit itself. However, some citrus aromas come from unexpected places like lemongrass or bergamot.
Earthy scents should remind you of being outdoors, but not necessarily near water or in a tree. These deep, rich smells aren’t for everyone and often balance well with lighter citrus or aquatic aromas.
Lots of flowers have lovely and unique scents. The essential oils extracted from flowers are among the most popular perfume ingredients in the world and some of the oldest. Here are the top eight florals for your perfume.
- Ylang Ylang
There are plenty of popular fruity scents that are not citrus. Options like watermelon, cherry, and strawberry are always popular. Likewise, the pinas colada fragrance, which is made from mostly pineapple and coconut, is a summertime must-have for many fragrance aficionados.
Green scents make you instantly think of the color green. These are often associated with freshly mown grass or flavors from green, leafy foods and spices. Typically these are herbal, slightly earthy oils and fragrance extracts.
- Green tea
- Aloe vera
Spicy scents are frequently derived from the same spice plants that provide seasonings. Some, like cayenne, are not good for skin and don’t smell very strongly. Fortunately, numerous spices also make fantastic and exotic perfume notes.
Not every mouth-watering perfume note comes from the spice cabinet. Some are more like bakery items and remind you strongly of desserts and candy. Smelling like your favorite soda or confection is a favorite option for younger people. Even babies and young children love products with these aromas.
- Chocolate or Cocoa
- Cotton Candy
- Bubble Gum
Woody aromas come directly from trees. Whether it is the bark, resin, or wood, these scents come from a forest. Some, like pine, are almost a citrusy, earthy smell, while others, such as cedar, are more sweet and musky.
- Agarwood (Oud)
Perfume, cologne, scented soaps, and even your hair products all add to your unique, personal aroma. Each note is a complex individual part that helps combine into a complete olfactory profile, and there are thousands of possible notes. Creating personalized aromatic combinations has been something humans have endeavored to do for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were the first people widely known to use scented oils for their bodies and believed that the oils were a gift from the gods.
It’s not hard to imagine that hot summers naturally led to the desire for more appealing odors than sweat. Especially in larger cities where thousands of people lived in close quarters, the delicate hint of flowers or pleasant smell of musk would have been a welcome change. Today we wear perfumes and colognes to be memorable or as part of our self-care regimen, but earlier, humans wore them because they didn’t want to smell foul, and they believed it made you holy or at least blessed by Ra.
According to Medium (https://email@example.com/earliest-known-applications-of-fragrance-19285ba24d87), “The world’s oldest perfumes were found in 2003 on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, and they date back more than 4,000 years. Archaeologists discovered the remnants of an ancient 3,230-square-foot perfume-making factory on the island… (14 different) Perfumes were unearthed in small, translucent alabaster bottles.”
There are so many choices you’re bound to have a few more questions about scents. Choosing the right one for you can be a long process where you try out various notes and combinations to find the ideal blend, but there are some questions everyone wants answers to. Here are the most frequently asked questions about scents.
There are three different ways to answer this question. First, what are the ten basic odor qualities? Second, what are the top ten scents people love? Third, what are the ten most popular wearable fragrances? The chart below has all three answers.
Like the previous questions, there are several ways to answer this question. The most popular men’s fragrance ever is 1 Million by Paco Rabanne. The most popular women’s fragrance of all time is Chanel No. 5, but this year’s most popular is Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle. Meanwhile, the most popular smell in the world that isn’t a perfume per se is vanilla, but most people name coffee their favorite scent in homes or businesses.
Lavender is widely known as the most calming scent. In adults, this lovely floral smell can help calm racing thoughts and aid in lowering stress and tension. Studies show lavender can even help with anxiety. For babies and young children, lavender is considered a sleep aid and is often incorporated into baby wash and lotion.
According to a PMC (Pub Med Central) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/) report, “Lavender has a long history of medicinal use and is suggested to possess anticonvulsant, antidepressive, anxiolytic, sedative, and calming properties… Continuous exposures to lavender essential oils for 7 days significantly inhibited anxiety- and depression-like behaviors tested by elevated plus-maze and forced swimming tests in rats. Lavender oil produced significant antianxiety effects in the Geller conflict and the Vogel conflict tests in mice.”
Some smells help anxiety, including lavender, bergamot, vetiver, ylang-ylang, oranges, and lemons. However, the most popular is rose. Combining rose, and lavender is incredibly effective. This study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5111093/#:~:text) had over 200 participants and showed the positive effects of this blend. “Sahebalzamani et al. studied the effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety of undergraduate students. The results showed that aromatherapy, in the form of inhalation of a blend of rose and lavender essences, was effective on students’ anxiety.”
Though scented oils were in use as far back as ancient Egypt, the first modern perfume made from oils and alcohol was known as Hungary Water, and it was made for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary in 1370. The scent was rosemary, lemon, orange blossom, and thyme, and people have been obsessed with perfumes ever since. Despite its ancient, noble roots, perfume, as it is used today, is thoroughly modern. You can easily buy a bottle of Chanel No. 5 or Drakkar Noir at the store. For a more personal, classic experience, you can combine your scents from the list above to make the perfect unique aroma.