In 2017 the global perfume market was estimated at $34.7 Billion with Africa and the Middle East making up about $5 billion dollars. The main players in these markets are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
So what accounts for this fascination with perfume? The word perfume comes from the Latin per fumus which means ‘through smoke’. Traces of perfumery have been found in the remains of many ancient civilizations including the Mesopotamian and Indus civilizations. Arabs were paramount in the refinement of the techniques and processes of perfumery. The Persian doctor Ibn Sina (Avicenna) actually introduced the process of distillation to perfumery. Distillation is still one of the main processes in modern perfumery. Perfume was introduced to Europe by Arab traders and made famous by the Italian born French Queen, Catherine de Medici. She is perhaps better known for her more vigorous political exploits.
How do they make perfume anyway? A perfume is made up of 3 parts referred to as notes, namely top notes, heart notes and base notes. The top notes make up what you will experience when you initially smell a fragrance. You will smell heart notes once top notes have faded. Finally, the base notes are what you will smell 20-30 minutes after application. So, it’s a good idea to wait a while before final selection of a new perfume.
EdP? EdT? Ed what now?
Modern perfumes can be categorized by the concentration of aromatic compounds it contains relative to alcohol content. This may affect its intensity, longevity and price.
Parfum: Contains 15%-40% concentration of aromatic compounds making it the strongest and most expensive variety, lasting up to 8 hours. Parfum is known to make a bold statement, so wear it when you want all eyes and noses on you!
Eau de Parfum (EdP): Contains 15%-20% fragrance concentration and will usually last up to 5 hours. A good everyday choice, perfect for work, fun and everything in between.
Eau de Toilette (EdT): Contains 5%-15% fragrance concentration and will last up to 3 hours. As it is so much lighter….why bother?
So now you are keen to buy a new fragrance but don’t know where to start? Fragrance counters are notoriously overwhelming! Breathe, Relax and Start by understanding and sampling some of the basic scent families.
In the 1980s the now famous ‘fragrance wheel’ was used to define and explain fragrance types. Here is a simple list of the most common fragrance families for you to use as you explore something more daring and provocative:
Floral scents are made up primarily of floral notes. No perfume is made up of a single note but there can be a dominant floral signature. This is referred to as a single note floral fragrance. Some well-known floral fragrances include, Estee Lauder’s Pleasures, Marc Jacob’s Daisy and Douaa Al Janna by Abdul Samad Al Qurashi. Floral fragrances are classically feminine, wear them when you’re feeling whimsical and playful!
Chanel Number 5 is known as a floral aldehydic. Ernest Beaux pioneered the use of synthetic compounds(aldehydes) in perfumery with its inclusion in Chanel’s iconic Number 5 fragrance. Wear it if you dare!
Citrus fragrances are characterised by the use of citrus fruits like, bergamot, lemon and grapefruit. These fragrances are often bold and punchy. Good examples of citrus fragrances include: Dolce and Gabbana’s Light Blue Italian Zest, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Aqua Vitae Forte and Calvin Klein’s best-selling unisex fragrance CK One. Citrus fragrances are perfect for summer holidays at the beach but feel free to wear them to work while dreaming about summer holidays at the beach!
Chypre is the French word for Cyprus. Fragrances regarded as Chypre include dominant notes of oakmoss, patchouli, bergamot and other woody and mossy ingredients. Chypre fragrances are known to be elegant and sophisticated with a complex composition. Well known Chypres include Christian Dior’s Diorella and Chanel’s No. 19. Don’t be afraid of Chypre fragrances because they’re less common and unusual, but wear them to complement your complex and razor sharp mind!
The Aromatic group of fragrances are characterised by ingredients like cumin, and herbs like sage and rosemary. Aromatics are usually used in men’s fragrances like Yves Saint Laurent’s La Nuit de l’Homme and Donna Karan’s Fuel For Men. Aromatic scents define a strong and energetic man.
Oriental fragrances contain substances like musk, amber and vanilla as well as exotic flowers, spices and resins. In recent years most major brands have increased their oriental fragrance offerings to cater to the Middle Eastern market. Some popular oriental fragrances include, Le Baiser Du Dragon by Cartier, Asgharali Perfumes’s Al Qasayad Female and Yve Saint Laurent’s classic, Opium. Oriental fragrances are for women who love to make a statement. Wear these fragrances when you want to channel your inner Queen on the social scene or in the boardroom!
Woody scents are usually more common in male fragrances. It is characterised by the use of ingredients like sandalwood, vetiver and cedar. Woody ingredients often make up the base notes of fragrances. Some good examples of woody scents include, Gucci Guilty by Gucci, Tom Ford’s Oud Wood and Wonderwood by Comme Des Garcons. Woody fragrances have an air of mystery and power, perfect for the serious man…serious about work, serious about life, serious about fun!
So when you’re selecting your new fragrance make sure that you love it! The information in this article is merely a guide to help you name and find scents that speak to your personality, nature and mood! In no time you’ll wake up and know if it’s going to be a floral or citrus day, you’ll know which perfume complements which outfit and you’ll know which scent makes you feel powerful and adds to your vivacious mood!