Perfume 101
By   Perfume Surprise

Perfume 101

Have you ever been on public transportation, or in the mall, when you were smacked in the face by someone else’s perfume? Perhaps your grandma bathes in it, or you had a teacher that reeked of musk. Why didn’t they realize just how potent their stench is? It turns out that we can’t smell our own scent.

You find that perfect perfume, the one you’ve been looking for and you wear it every single day of every single week. You spray it in the air and strut through it, enveloping your body in the wondrous scent. Then, as you get used to the scent, you spray more and more… you’re immune to your own scent.

That’s right, your nose is no longer registering that smell and no matter how much you apply you still won’t realize it. That doesn’t mean that everyone around you can’t smell it, though.

A perfume subscription can save you from ever dealing with such a situation. Your perfume collection will grow over time and you will always be smelling unique with the latest scents. When applying your scents, make sure to follow the tips we have highlighted below to assure you apply your perfume responsibly.


Pulse Points– Apply your perfume to the points of your body where blood vessels are closest to the skin surface. Areas such as your wrists, behind the ear lobes, in your cleavage, base of the throat, inner elbows and behind your knees. This means that throughout the day the fragrance reacts to your body heat and will continue to emit your chosen scent.

Direct Application- Don’t rub your wrists together and don’t spray it in the air to walk through. The best way to use your perfume responsibly is to apply it directly to the skin and make sure you apply it before you get dressed.

Long Lasting- Many perfumes can also be matched with lotions, using the accompanying products will extend the strength of your scent and prolong it. Applying a moisturizer before you spray your scent allows it to cling on to the absorbent layer. You can always carry a travel size version of your perfume, too, whether it’s a pipette, solid, or roll on.  

So, now you know how to wear your perfume well, what about all of the jargon that comes with it?


Accord- It’s a scent that is made up of several notes, or ingredients, that blend to form a distinct fragrance. Examples of some classics include labdanum, oakmoss, and bergamot.

Aldehydes- chemicals providing the lift and sparkles to perfumes. In some cases, they provide an additional scent. C 14 and higher add fruity notes, while 12 and lower provide the sparkle. Famous perfumes containing aldehydes include Guerlain Mitsouko and Chanel No. 5.

Balsams- frequently found in oriental fragrances, they add soft vanillic, warm, and ambery notes.

Base note- this is used in reference to the heaviest of ingredients. This helps fix other notes in the formula, making them last longer, as well as enhancing the scents of other ingredients.

Amber- this accord has been created using vanilla, balsams, and labdanum. It is the cornerstone of oriental fragrances.

Ambergris- this base note is rare and costly. Why? Well, the sperm whale consumes cuttlefish, and their bones are painful to the stomach lining and indigestible. To combat this the whale secretes a substance to envelop the bones and this then gets excreted. As it floats in the water and ages it gets oxidized by the sun, turning it into Ambergris. It washes ashore and the lucky finder can sell it on, for more than gold per ounce. It has a tobacco-like smell, earthy and sweet and offers a depth to perfumes. Christian Dior’s Dioressence is said to have been inspired by the perfumers encounter with the real deal.

Bergamot- an essential oil derived from the rind of a fruit resembling a tiny orange. It adds a citrus fresh scent to perfumes, and features in many Thierry D’Hermes perfumes, as well as Le Labo Bergamote 22.

Castoreum- an oily secretion from a beaver’s abdominal sac and is warm and sometimes fruity. It is used, in its synthetic form, in leather perfumes such as Amouage Fate Woman.

Chypre- a classic accord featuring a citrusy top note, like bergamot, contrasted with a base of oakmoss. There has been talking of limiting/banning, oakmoss, as they have allergic properties, however, with Christian Dior’s Diorella a Chypre, perfume lovers, are up in arms.  

Civet- yes, that civet. Don’t worry, though, no one is harvesting it from anal glands anymore, these days it’s synthetic. When it is undiluted it has a fecal smell, however, when combined with other scents it creates a magical base note. Brent Leonesio’s Untitled No. 8 makes amazing use of this ingredient.

Concentration- Eau de Cologne, which features up to 5% perfume oil, Eau de Toilette which contains up to 20% perfume oil, Eau de Parfum, featuring up to 30%, and Extrait, which is up to 40% concentration.

Middle note- also referred to as the heart note. It’s between the top and base notes and are generally florals, such as lavender, jasmine, or rose.

Musk- we’re all familiar with this one, used to extend the life of the scent. This synthetic musk comes in a range of scents, with Narcisco Rodriguez’s For Her featuring a clean musk scent.

Note– it simply means ingredient. In some cases, it refers to discrete ingredients, and in other cases it is misused when accord would be more appropriate. Some perfume copyrights go over the top and include ingredients like “angel skin” … seriously.

Tonka Bean- these are seeds from the Dipteryx odorata tree and are vanillic, with hints of almond and cinnamon.  

Top Note- these are the first smells that you experience, the lightest notes, like bergamot, mandarin, and other citrusy scents.

Vetiver- this essential oil is distilled through steaming roots of a tall grass. It is peppery, lemony, earthy, and dusty and is used extensively. Great examples include Guelain Vetiver.

There’s so much to learn and understand about perfume, which makes a subscription service make total sense. You don’t want to miss out on all of the amazing complex scents that are out there to experience. So make sure to subscribe and enjoy the monthly surprises that await.


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