The perfume is so diluted Because the reason is actually aesthetic: Lots of alcohol spreads out the smells so that you can distinguish them. In a perfume oil, you’d encounter a jumble of smells. Smelling it would be like hearing an orchestra play all the notes in a symphony at once. You might register that you’re smelling something sweet, but not that it’s mango, followed by jasmine, finished with cherry. Its diluted nature makes the smell enjoyable.
In fact, most perfumes are engineered to have a three-part smell, which unfolds after you apply it to your skin. You smell top notes within the first 15 minutes of applying. These chemicals first evaporate off your skin. Designers often put weird, unpleasant or spicy smells in this phase so that they interest you but don’t hang around long enough to offend. Heart notes appear after 3 to 4 hours. The chemicals creating these smells evaporate more slowly from your skin. They’re probably what you remember about the perfume; if it’s a floral perfume, flowery smells go here. Base notes stick stubbornly to your skin. You smell them within 5 to 8 hours of application. Musky, watery, mossy and woody chemicals often go in the base. The word note is just perfume jargon for an individual smell.
Knowing that perfumes smell by evaporating, you can take better care in applying them. When applying, spread the perfume, but don’t rub it in vigorously, because the heat you create will evaporate the top notes and weaken the overall smell.
Chemical reactions can also morph your perfume on the shelf. Visible light has enough energy to bust the bonds in fragrance molecules, and bright sun will singe your perfume in as little as a week . Air can also corrode your fragrance by oxidation — the same process that turns uncorked wine into vinegar. Storing your perfume at room temperature, in the dark and in a spray bottle preserves it well. Then, it will have a shelf life of at least two years.
But what about your chemistry? Your temperature and oiliness seem most important. The top notes will evaporate faster from warm and dry skin than cool and oily skin. Otherwise, by the time the heart notes emerge, the perfume smells the same on everyone. You have learned about your perfume’s structure and behavior. You have spread, but not rubbed vigorously. Next, we’ll look at how the fragrance industry produces the stuff.
Naphthalene undergoes sublimation easily i.e., the change of state of naphthalene from solid to gas without the intervention of the liquid state. Thus, naphthalene balls keep on forming naphthalene vapours which disappear into the air with time without leaving any solid.
Perfume has a higher degree of vaporization and its vapour diffuse into the air easily. Gaseous particles possess high speed and move very rapidly in all directions. When perfume is sprayed, its particles diffuse into the particles of air at a very fast rate and reach our nostrils. This enables us to smell the perfume from a distance.
The strength of the perfume you buy will determine how long it lasts on the skin. The more concentrated forms, like pure parfum, will cost the most while the less concentrated versions of the same scent, like eau de toilette, will cost less.
However, you can also buy perfumes that will have a longer shelf life. Perfumes with more prominent base notes will have a longer shelf life than those with prominent top notes. Base notes usually include woody or balsamic flavors as well as those with a spicier scent. If your perfume contains Oriental scents such as patchouli and amber, it’s likely to have a longer shelf life.
Perfumes with lighter prominent base notes are more volatile. The more volatile your scent, the quicker it will likely expire. This includes citrus, floral and green scents.
There are no absolutes to recognizing an expensive perfume versus a cheap one. So much of what we find appealing about smell is linked to buried memories and what we associate smells with. However, if we’re talking in general, there are a few tendencies that might apply.
Cheap perfume tends to smell sweeter than average. This isn’t because sweet-smelling ingredients are just cheaper than others (although they can be), but because cheap perfume is usually marketed for younger people, who generally have less money. Younger people, particularly teenagers, tend to have a poor sense of smell, so these sweeter scents are more subtle for them than they would be for a more developed nose.
Another indicator, but by no means a guarantee, is that more expensive perfumes are more likely to have several levels of fragrance. Essential oils (the ingredients of many perfumes, but less likely to be pure in the cheaper ones) are divided into top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The top notes you smell immediately and last about half an hour. The mid notes develop after half an hour for two to four hours after that. Then come the base notes, which is what is left on your skin at the end of the day.
Everything, including your diet, your body temperature, and what body lotion you’re using, affect the way your fragrance is going to sit on your skin. Even something seemingly unrelated — like that hangover you’ve been nursing — can completely alter how good your perfume smells on you. “Think about it,” says Sanford. “Your body is diffusing the byproduct of the alcohol, which is a very sugary substance, and it’s pushing out through your pores. So it’s going to change the way your perfume smells because the scents are interacting with one another.”
When it comes to choosing a fragrance, swing by a fragrance counter to test, but make sure you’re not wearing any body oil or heavily fragranced lotion before you go. Also, avoid the tester strips at the perfume counter; you’ll want to spray the scent directly onto your skin.
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