About Amerisales Inc. - Wholesalers and Retailers of Quality Designer Fragrances
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Frequently Asked Questions about Fragrance:
Why do people wear (and love) fragrances so much?
We wear scents because it helps us feel good about ourselves and others. Several recent psychological tests reveal that people who use a particular fragrance regularly have a more self-esteem and a positive attitude towards socializing, they may even be more socially skilled than people who seldom or never wear scents. It was generally concluded that when people believe that others think they smell good, they have more confidence and perhaps more fun, too.
How come a fragrance brings back memories and feelings from the past?
The sense of smell triggers many associative memory of clusters of events and feelings that are involuntary, just as Proust describes. We use the sensory “memory” part of the brain when we identify a particular scent, especially when we can’t verbally describe an odor. If we cannot remember the name of a scent, the closest we can come is to describe it in associative terms: “It smelled like ...”. When we first take a whiff of a fragrance, electric signals travel to our brain and begin searching in our “memory bank” looking for smells that are from past associations, this is how we establish connections that help us define the aroma. This explains why, when smelling a rose in the present, you may suddenly have an image of being in your grandmother’s garden or have a feeling of the fragrance that your mother wore.
What is the difference between Perfume, Eau de Parfum or Parfum de Toilette, Eau de Toilette and Cologne?
Each type represents a different concentration of perfume oils in a scent. Perfume, also known as parfum or extrait, has the highest concentration of oils and is the longest-lasting fragrance form with 12 to 30 per cent perfume oils. The newer category of Eau de Parfum or Esprit de Parfum is ranked as almost as concentrated as traditional extraits, but the Parfum de Toilette or Eau de Toilette (called a Cologne, in the United States) is comprised with a lighter strength, and with a levels of oils anywhere from 4 to 18 per cent. In Europe, the word Eau de Cologne is used to describe a light levels of oils, ranging from only 1 to 3 per cent oil.
What is the history of eaux de colognes?
Sometime around 1680, Giao Paola Feminis, a knife-sharpener and barber from a tiny village in Northern Italy, triple distilled an esprit-de-vin to obtain a ration of 75/80% proof alcohol, into which he dissolved rosemary, lavender, cold-pressed bergamot along with lemon oils.
Feminis named his elixir, Acqua Mirabilis (which means Miraculous water). His was the first eau de cologne in the world, although it did not acquire that true name for another 130 years.
It was in 1709, when Johann Maria Farina, a German perfumer from Cologne, was first introduced to acqua mirabilis by his wife Jean Maria Farina. His success in turn encouraged other Cologne perfumers to imitate his product. Over the next century and a half, more than 2500 copies of his scent appeared, and almost all of them were called Farina.
In 1792, the chemist Wilhelm Muelhens was introduced to Franz Maria Farina's acqua mirabilis, and renamed it 4711 in 1845!
Roger & Gallet’s version of Jean Marie Farina first appeared in 1806.
In 1810, when Napoleon decreed that all medicinal formulae had to be registered, the perfumers from Cologne Germany were reluctant to reveal their acqua mirabilis formulas, so they chose to register their products as eaux de Cologne.
What are aldehydes?
Aldehydes belong to a family of aroma notes that have a pervasive and radiant scent that adds a soft powdery touch to a fragrance's composition. Aldehydes are commonly found in rose and citrus oils, but there are less frequent trace amounts of others that are impractical to extract them commercially. Today a lot of aldehydes are made synthetically. When you think of the aroma notes as the perfumer’s notes of a composer that creates symphonies in laboratories, when he adds his originality to the composition, it expresses a new character and tenacity, that synchronizes with nature’s notes.
What is the difference between a “signature” scent, a “celebrity” scent and a “designer” scent?
A signature scent is a scent for which someone is recognized by. As the story goes, when Marilyn Monroe first confessed that she wore nothing but Chanel No. 5 in bed, the image of her naked attached forever to the brand of the scent and became etched in the collective memory of society as her ‘signature’ scent.
Celebrity scents are invented and generated by media personalities rather than a particular design house: Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion (1987) was the first successful launch of a celebrity fragrance and her White Diamonds (1991) remains one of the best selling fragrances in the United States.,
Designer perfumes, on the other hand, are created by and linked to fashion houses or designers. Chanel No 5 is the enduring symbol of a design house perfume.
How is a new perfume created?
How is a painting painted? How is a symphony composed? What is known for certain is that perfumers all use their materials in much the same way as painters use colors on their palettes, and perform their work much like musicians play their notes.
The perfumer Pierre Dhumez expressed it this way: “To make a perfume is to find a harmony of three or four dominant ‘bodies’ that you smell in your mind. You have an inspiration for a mixture of those three or four bodies, not more. And they will release themselves in such a way that when you have composed the ‘corps’ in the proportions by which you have been inspired when you were in a tranquil, happy state of mind, you will not be able to distinguish one odor from the other among your basic raw materials, It is a perfectly balanced mixture which smells as a separate entity from the odor of each of the three or four bodies you have chosen - and in so doing you will have created the ‘woman’. After that, you have to enhance her, make her more beautiful, do her hair, select her dress, her lipstick, her eye liner, her hat, her wrap - and that is a perfume.” (William Kaufman, Perfume, E.P.Dutton, 1974)
“Aliage... was sporty,” wrote Estée Lauder. “I’d picked up a green leaf in Palm Beach one day, deeply inhaled its scent with wonder, and knew I had to re-create that smell. The active woman needed a scent all her own: when she went to a gym in her tennis shoes, she didn’t want to conjure up a whole symphony orchestra. I could never find a scent that would be right on the tennis court, so I had to invent it.” (Estée Lauder, Estée, A Success Story, Random House, 1985)
The truth is that a perfumer is rarely a soloist. There is also the conductor of the orchestra, who is the head of the design house, and he plays a critical role. Like a maestro of a great symphony, a team of designers aims to build a truly great perfume by evolving its composition with a subliminal sensory message that gets so emotional that it moves the hearts of thousands of women and in turn stirs the senses of hundreds of thousands of men.
Approximately how many ingredients does a perfume usually contain?
It varies. A perfume may contain 10, 50, 100 or more different materials but it doesn’t necessarily follow the line of thinking that just because a fragrance has been made with over 300 ingredients, this does not necessarily make it superior to one that only contains 10. The key is in the composition and how all these different ingredients combine and blend together and perhaps even ‘talk’ to you.
Perfumers today tend to prefer short formulae. Less is indeed more, with less ingredients the notes are purer and the quality of the scent is easier to maintain.
What are the ‘notes’ of a fragrance?
The "notes" describe the different phases through which a fragrance develops from the moment you first spray it on your skin. It is important to note that each of these stages or groups of “notes” has a different degree of volatility.
The head or top notes describes the first impression that a fragrance has. These are the high and light volatile notes that first burst onto your skin as you first spray, this is the same fragrance you experience when you sniff it from an open bottle. The head notes are so volatile that they usually wear away within 10 to 15 minutes.
As they fade, there is described, the heart or middle notes, which are the core scents that bloom on your skin. These form the core of the composition, and are the dominant theme of the fragrance that people recognize the most.
And finally, there are the scents that are accentuated by body chemistry as they combine and become fixed by the base or soul notes. As the foundation or core of the fragrance, the base notes are ones that bind together all the other ingredients. They are what creates a memorable scent in your memory-bank, the base notes are what makes the theme linger in your mind, and is what makes the fragrance last from four to eight hours on your skin.
How long should a good fragrance last?
The length a scent lasts varies from person to person. Usually, if you are wearing a parfum or extrait, which is the most concentrated form of oils, the scent should last for six to eight hours generally; an eau de toilette or American cologne, lasts for less, perhaps three or four hours - sometimes longer if it is a more concentrated formula.
How does altitude affect the quality of a fragrance?
Depending on where you live, the higher the altitude, the more muted the impact and the shorter the fragrance life. If you are setting off to the mountains or travelling by plane, take a more concentrated form of your favorite fragrance. Use a spray parfum instead of a lighter eaux de cologne.
How does climate-change affect the fragrance we wear?
The summer heat will always increase the impact of odors. The hotter the weather, the more rapidly the “notes” of a fragrance pass through the stages until they leave the skin. One solution is to use a lighter fragrance and re-apply it more frequently. Winter has been found to tone down scents. In cold weather you will notice how the fragrance molecules “lift” more slowly and how the top, heart and base notes develop evenly and more gradually. That is why you can wear more potent fragrances in cold weather.
Are natural fragrance oils better than artificial ones?
Not necessarily. These days modern perfumery is based on producing a synergy of natural and man-made ingredients. Both types of extracts are of equal importance to the perfumer. Technically speaking, a perfumer differentiates between natural oils, that is, those which are extracted from blossoms, woods, leaves, spices and resins and semi-synthetic oils that have been separated from natural sources, and those oils which are completely synthetic aroma notes, that have been created to enhance natural essences as a catalyst that makes them vibrate faster and can then express notes that are quite unlike anything you have ever smelt before. The synthetic aroma notes are tools that enhance the composition of the perfumer’s notes, even though they are created in laboratories, artificial oils add originality, character, and tenacity to the notes that nature already expresses.
Coco Chanel was the first designer to encourage perfumers to take a leading role into the world of synthetic oils, “I wanted to give women a perfume that was artificial, that is man-made. I’m an artisan in dressmaking...I don’t want the smell of rose, or lily of the valley. I want a perfume that is a composition.” What was created was Chanel No 5, the first floral aldehydic perfume, a bouquet dominated by soft, clean notes of synthetic aldehydes that is in turn intertwined with some of the costliest jasmine and Mayrose from Grasse.
“It is well known that there are natural essences that cost very little, other chemical aroma notes that cost a huge amount,” said perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. “It is therefore not a matter of economy if we use chemical products for the composition of haute couture perfumes. If we use them, it is that we do not want to dispense with the glorious nuances of scent that simply do not exist in nature and which only chemistry can provide us with. Often a synthetic smell is more beautiful that a real one - think of a flower, when you pick it, it only smells good for a day or so, then it begins to smell awful. With synthetics, one can achieve the same odor and leave most of the flowers in the field.”
Why does a perfume I tested in a store smell so different when I try it on later at home?
The scent of a fragrance depends largely on the environment in which it is experienced. Because the perfume department often has a heady mixture of fragrances in the air, you may notice that a melange of scents in the air will influence your particular experience of scent you sniff. Things like air-conditioning, because it creates temperature and humidity fluctuations, can cause scents to be very different in a store to those found at home. Most important to remember is that because we rarely stand at the counter waiting for all phases of a fragrance to develop, in our impatience we only tend to discover these later hours later long after we have left the store.
Why does that perfume smell wonderful on a friend, yet doesn't smell the same on me?
Each of us has our own “scent print” that influences the development of notes that a perfume has. This odor-identity is the sum total of our genetic composition, our skin chemistry, our diet, our medication intake, our stress levels and, probably the most important factor of all, the temperature and oiliness of our skin.
This is not the same as saying that fragrances react differently on different people because of their ‘body chemistry’. However, the warmth of our skin is a critical factor in the reaction of a scent with our skin. Some people have more pores per square inch than others, while others may have more layers of fat in their skin. These are just a couple of factors that affect the warmth of skin, which in turn influences the scent of a fragrance, and environmental factors also impact this too. The fact is that we are all created equal until we use fragrance.
I wear the same fragrance and have for years, why does it seem like a different scent now?
It is probably because your personal chemistry and body temperature have changed slightly. If you are on a low-fat diet or taking a new medication. Has the weather changed? Are you pregnant? Are you exercising more frequently? Has your skin become drier? Are you using more moisturizer and does its scent conflict with your fragrance?
Brand name fragrance formulae rarely change, but diet or medication do. These bodily changes produce new chemicals that excrete through the pores thus changing the composition of the fragrance as it balances with other odors on your skin. Try using a body cream or bath oil that matches your fragrance as an oil that attempts to overcome the problem. If that doesn't work, try changing fragrances for a while.
Why is that scent so sexy?
“The nose may really be a sexual organ - it may be more closely related to sexual response than vision,” suggests American researcher, Michael Shipley. Obviously, the sheer confidence gained and the heightened sensuality achieved by the right fragrance makes us more receptive to sexual feelings, pheromones, and more attractive to others. “When a woman is in the arms of a man she loves, in the dark of the night, the perfume she is wearing plays a very important role,” says Jean-Paul Guerlain.
How does skin type affect the expression of a fragrance?
Oils in your skin are what dissolve and retain a fragrance's scent molecules. The oilier that your skin is, the more it will require an intense fragrance that will be bolder and last longer.
How does perspiration affect the impact of fragrance?
As your body temperature heats up, fragrance molecules bounce off the skin more quickly and intensely. This makes your perfume smells stronger but also wear off more rapidly. Because the chemicals in your perspiration also affect the balance and scent of the fragrance, you may experience a difference with a scent during strenuous activity.
Will smoking affect the way a fragrance wears on my skin?
Yes. Nicotine changes your body scent, it is a psychoactive substance that changes your body chemistry and therefore affects the way you smell. If you smoke regularly, not only will the fragrance you use tend not to last as long on your skin, you will also that your sense of smell is much duller in the same way that your sense of taste is affected.
Can being on a diet affect the amount of fragrance I need to apply?
Definitely. If you’re on a low-fat diet, your body's oil levels in your skin tend to be lower and you may find that your fragrance does not seem to last as long.
Will eating spicy foods affect the way my perfume smells on me?
Again, the answer is yes. If you eat a lot of turmeric for example, while the scent of your fragrance doesn’t change, the scent of your skin does. Most of us forget that our skin is an excretory organ. Spicy foods eventually get into the oils that are secreted through the pores of our skin. So, spicy skin, perhaps you should use a different fragrance!
Is it true that antibiotics change my body's fragrance?
Yes, antibiotics do change the smell of your skin. Because taking antibiotics decimates bacteria on your skin, which, in turn blend with your skin oils to produce a fragrance that is distinctive to you, they will change the overall composition of the scent.
How can I tell if factors such as diet or smoking are affecting the way a fragrance smells on my skin?
Test a fragrance on your wrists and then also test it on a piece of blotting paper. Wait ten minutes. After the scent has developed, compare your pure sample on the blotter with the scent of your skin. Take note of your ‘odor print’ in order to see if there are any marked differences.
Which were the first known fragrances?
The Egyptians developed aromatic oils and essences 5,000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians were great perfume lovers, they used a lot of oils on their skin, from almond and rose oil, frankincense and myrrh, and cedar, to mimosa lily, nutmeg, sweet balsam, cassia, benzoin and labdanum, galbanum and opopanax in such diverse preparations as aphrodisiacs, medicines, cosmetics and incense. The art of perfumery in Ancient Egypt was so sophisticated that when archaeologists opened Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 they discovered an ointment that was still fragrant!
The study of fragrance, developed in the Nile Valley, was to inspire other ancient cultures. In Greece, athletes anointed their bodies with aromatic oils, and at banquets Romans refreshed themselves between courses with flower-scented water. It was the Persians who developed the use of exotic ingredients and the technique of extracting oils from flowers through distillation. This expertise was brought to Western Europe at the time of the Crusades.
When is a perfume considered a “classic”?
When it has transcended the fickle realms of fashion, capturing people’s imagination for years, even generations. The first great couturier classic was Chanel No 5, created in 1921. Here is a selective listing of other great classics, women’s and men’s, that have influenced modern perfumery:
1880 > 1899: The birth of modern perfumery
Fougère Royale* 1882; Jicky 1889
1900 >1919: François Coty & Jacques Guerlain
L’Origan 1905; Apres l’Ondée 1906; L’Heure Bleue 1912; Chypre de Coty 1917; Mitsouko 1919
1920 > 1939 Glamour and Depression
Chanel No5 1921; Shalimar 1925; Arpège 1927; Joy 1930; Tabu 1932
1940 > 1959 A new generation: A New Look
Bandit 1944; Femme 1944; Miss Dior 1947; Fracas 1948; L’Air du Temps 1948; Youth-Dew 1953; Diorissimo 1956; L’Interdit 1957; Cabbochard 1959
1960> 1979 Prêt-à-porter and the American challenge
Madame Rochas 1960; Calèche 1961; Estée 1968; Calandre 1969; Rive Gauche 1969; Aromatics Elixir 1971; Chanel No19 1971; Jovan Musk 1972; Charlie 1973; Private Collection 1973; Halston 1975; First 1976; Opium 1977; Oscar 1977; Anaïs Anaïs 1978; White Linen 1978:
1980 > 1999 Luxe turns to pure and gourmand
Giorgio Beverly Hills 1981; Must de Cartier 1981; Ombre Rose 1981; Paris 1983; Ysatis 1984; Beautiful 1985; Obsession 1985; Poison 1985; Calyx 1986; Eternity 1988; Samsara 1989; Amarige 1991; White Diamonds 1991; Angel 1992; Féminité du Bois 1992; Bvlgari au Thé Vert 1993; L’Eau d’Issey 1992; Jean Paul Gaultier 1993; Cashmere Mist 1994; ck One 1994; Pleasures 1995; Allure 1996; Tommy Girl 1996; Happy 1997; Gucci Rush 1999; J’Adore 1999