Fragrance Secrets

  • Fragrance is the oldest beauty accessory, used for attracting persons towards oneself or to simply define one’s identity and tastes. Its use is even more prevalent today. Its secrets are jealously guarded. Perfumers are a class apart.
  • There are no less than 10,000 branded varieties of perfumes in all of Europe alone. In South and South East Asia there are nearly 5000 classes of perfumes and over 75,000 scents individually named.
  • A particular fragrance is blended with any of the over 200 essential oils to create the perfume’s identity. Some perfumers give it their own name. Some endow it with a name inspired by a muse or the memory of a dear one, or an event or cause, or the source itself.
  • Fragrance, as a generic term in pharmacology, encompasses all those organic materials such as extracts, essences and essential oils that are used straight, or go into the manufacture of perfumes and incense sticks.
  • Fragrances were used directly from source earlier. Gradually, over centuries, there was refinement and development in the art of blending and emulsifying it with essential oils for prolonged shelf life. Mixing and kneading fragrance with emulsifying and combustible powders over a wooden stick created the incense stick.
  • What distinguishes the perfume from the incense stick is that the perfume’s reach and effect covers a limited periphery or the ‘scent circle”, compared to the incense stick whose vapours spread with the movement of air, covering a larger area and affecting a greater number of people.
  • In concocting perfumes the perfume scientist knows which floral essences can mar the effect if blended with other essences extracted from resins, bark, pistils, seeds etc., and when and how to dose and mature concentrations of perfumes, and also the stage in processing at which these can be blended.
  • There are larger factories where synthesis of perfumes is also done by distillation processes that extract the fragrance without any dissipation of qualities, such as the potency or concentration, smell and other characteristics.
  • Perfume, the most concentrated form of fragrance, reacts differently with different people. Some perfumers classify it with the features identifying “notes” such as the ‘head’ notes, the ‘heart’ notes and the ‘base’ notes. Some maintain that it changes character after it interacts with the amino acids of the skin, assuming a signature of the wearer, so that the same perfume reflects differently from different people.
  • Incense burned gives off vapours that create a distinct ambience, encompassing the whole room, so that the persons who enter that area are drawn into the characteristic quality and mood redolent of that occasion.
  • For example a floral scent of an incense stick burned at one’s honeymoon will be reminiscent of the wedding occasion when it was first lit. Or, a moss scent will remind a couple of their walk down the forest glades through the rain, and so on.
  • Imitation, adulteration, brand pilfering etc are constant threats to the industry of fragrances and incense. The secrets of fragrance, its identity and quality are well-guarded from plagiarists, and various packaging features such as complicated label design, holograms etc. ensure protection from counterfeiters.