March 16, 2021

Fragrance and perfume are an important part of our everyday lives, yet we do not know a lot about their origin, background and frankly, simple day-to-day, usage-related facts. So, we’d like to take you on a brief perfume history tour and translate some of the commonly unknown phrases we often hear when shopping for our perfect perfume. We will also answer some of the common questions, we never dare to ask out loud.

  1. Curious as to who invented this heavenly-smelling thing, we today call perfume?

“You can thank Tapputi and Ninu – worlds first recorded perfumers and chemists, creating marvelous scents for the royals of Mesopotamia.” 😉

Well, for this you can thank Tapputi. She was the world’s first recorded perfume-maker, a Babylonian chemist and a royal perfume maker. Her name appears on a cuneiform Mesopotamian text from 1200 BCE, in which she is described as an authority in her field. Little is known of Tapputi’s life, but her description of how she used her still to refine her ingredients is the oldest known reference to such an apparatus, making her one of the earliest chemical engineers. An important name, you also should know about is Ninu. Her full name is lost to history, but today she would be called a researcher. She was likely a member of Tapputi’s household and working alongside her. For their creations, the two women used flowers, oil, calamus, cyperus, myrth, and balsam.

Tapputi (Photo: History daily)

2. What was the first perfume ever?

“First perfumes come from the island of Cyprus, nearly 4000 years ago, but the Egyptians were the ones to make perfume truly a part of their culture 3000 years ago.”

The first actual »factory« dedicated to the production of perfumed oils dates back 4000 years on the island of Cyprus. Yet the Egyptians were the first to make perfume truly a part of their culture 3000 years ago, inventing stone and glass vessels to hold their precious scented oils and balms.

3. What does the word »perfume« actually mean?

»Per fumus«, means »through smoke«, in Latin.”

»Perfume« comes from the Latin word »per fumus« which translates to »through smoke«. When man first discovered scent he used it as an offering: aromatic gums were burnt on altars and that is how the word »perfume« (from the Latin per – through – and fummum – smoke) evoked its earliest use.

4. What is the difference between Eau de Parfum and Parfum?

It comes down to concentration of pure perfume oils within a fragrance. Eau de Toilette contains 10 %, Eau de Parfum 15 % and Parfumes over 20 % of pure perfume oils.”

There are different categories in perfumery for perfume types with certain concentration, which refers to the amount of pure perfume oil within a fragrance. Eau de Toilette, for example, has a perfume concentration of about 10 %, whilst Eau de Parfum 15 %. Perfumes that are classified as actual Parfum have a concentration of over 20 %. The higher the concentration, the higher the longevity on the skin which means that a Parfum lasts significantly longer on your skin than an Eau de Parfum. You can expect a Parfum to last up to 12 hours, an Eau de Parfum for about six hours, while an Eau de Toilette might only last for about 3 hours.

5. Why can a perfume be so expensive?

“Because the best brands whant to use only the most exclusive ingredients and highest quality packaging- for example: it reportedly takes 1,000 jasmine flowers, picked by hand, to make one bottle of Chanel No.5.”

Perfumes can get pretty pricey. This is because luxury brands want to use only the most exclusive ingredients, it is understandable that they have to charge a lot for their products. To make one bottle of Chanel No. 5 reportedly takes 1,000 jasmine flowers, all picked by hand. The scarcity of an ingredient – say, one that blooms for only one month a year – can add to its value. Another thing that can affect a perfume’s price is the packaging. Perfumers know that beautiful perfume bottles can elevate user experience, as well as make a product stand out in a sea of fragrances.

Chanel N°5 (Photo: Unsplash)

6. How you should be storing perfume?

“Like a fine wine- somewhere cool and dark so the notes will stay intact for longer.”

You should store perfume like you would a fine wine, by keeping it somewhere cool and dark so the notes will stay intact for longer. The ideal place is in a cupboard where the lighter and heat can’t alter them. Remember, you can always display those beautifully designed fragrance bottles on your dresser once the scent has been used up.

7. What is the difference between a splash bottle and atomiser?

“Most perfumes today are atomisers- spray pumps. A splash bottle on the other hand, does not necessarily have an applicator on the top- Aftershaves are an example.”

Most perfumes today are atomisers, which is essentially a spray pump. The function of an atomizer is to break the links between the parfum or to spread each molecule as one not a chain of some in your skin. A splash bottle on the other hand, does not have a spray pump and does not necessarily have an applicator on the bottle top. They are most commonly used for Aftershaves.

8. Why can’t I smell my perfume anymore?

“Because your body has become habituated to the scent. The smell receptors has stopped communicating the olfactory stimuli to the brain after a while. Not to worry, the smell isn’t lost, you just have to switch the fragrances every here and there.”

If you notice that after a while, you can’t smell your perfume, let us comfort you! It is perfectly normal. It means that over time, your body has become habituated to the scent. The nose breaths in air containing scent molecules, which are deposited in the rear of the nose and throat. Here, the receptors communicate the smell to the brain, where it is deciphered and evaluated. After evaluating the molecular content of two breaths, the brain readies itself to decipher new smells. That is why the smell of a familiar perfume no longer has the same effect on you. The solution is simple, your habituated nose simply needs different olfactory stimuli. That is, a regular exposure to new fragrances, ideally several. You don’t need to abandon your signature scent. You merely need to vary your perfumes regularly.

Personal perfume collection (Photo: Unsplash)