Comparing 36614 products from 45 merchants

Perfume and Fragrance Guide

At Perfume Compared we do our best to find you the perfect fragrance at the best price. Finding the right fragrance for you or as a gift can be a daunting prospect, choosing a perfume, fragrance or aftershave, with so many scents, and so many combinations it can be hard to make the right choice. So here at perfume compared we have put together an easy to understand fragrance guide to show you and explain how a fragrance works, the different fragrance categories and fragrance notes, to enable you to find your perfect perfume, fragrance or aftershave and make a more informed purchase.

Perfume Concentration.

The intensity and longevity or lasting power of a perfume or aftershave are dependent on the concentration of the aromatic compounds contained in the fragrance solution. As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent created, and so does the price.

Perfumes come in a somewhat confusing array classifications or specific terms used to describe the strength of a perfume or aftershave. These terms basically tell you the approximate concentration by percent/volume of perfume oil in the fragrance:

Perfume (Parfum) has the highest concentration of perfume oils and typically contains between 15 and 40%. It is the most intense and longest lasting of fragrances, on most people between 6 and 8 hours.

Esprit de Parfum (ESdP) is a seldom used concentration, typically containing 15 to 30% aromatic compounds.

Eau de Parfum (EDP) comes next in the list, containing between 8% and 20% fragrance oils. Eau de Parfum typically lasts between 5 and 7 hours on the skin and is significantly less expensive than parfum but still provides a noticeably long lasting fragrance. Eau de Parfum is sometimes called eau de perfume or millsime and less often Parfum de Toilette, just to confuse things.

Eau de Toilette (EDT), probably the most popular variant due to the significant price difference, contains between 5% and 10% perfume oils. This reduction in concentration obviously reduces the longevity of the fragrance on the skin, but usually this fragrance will remain effective between 4 and 6 hours on the skin. The majority of fragrance brands are offered in both Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette strengths.

Eau de Cologne (EDC) contains between 3% to 8% and typically lasts on the skin between 2 to 3 hours. Due to the lower concentration of fragrance oils, EDC is used in a lot of mens aftershaves as it can be used on the face after shaving without causing irritation or sensitivity. For this reason Cologne is often incorrectly thought of as a man's fragrance.

Eau Fraiche also called Perfume Mist is a low concentration variant, usually between 1% and 3%, that is usually alcohol free. Often used as a scented body spray, but also for scenting clothes and soft furnishings.

Fragrance Categories

Fragrances and perfumes are categorised into fragrance families, sorted by their scent and notes that appear and the ingredients that have been used to make up a particular scent.

Classification by olfactive family is a good starting point for a description of a perfume, all fragrances, feminine, masculine and those shared by men and women fragrances have been divided into five basic fragrances families, which are then split into subdivisions.Olfactive families only serve as a general guide as perfumes are so complex and there is such a vast variety.

The majority of fragrances begin as an Aromatic Fougère Base. Aromatic Fougères are a universal fragrance group that includes elements of most of the individual sub categories.

Fragrance Wheel

Gourmand is a group with edible or dessert like scents, vanilla, chocolate, tonka bean and coffee to name just a few. These perfumes tend to be used more in winter fragrances due to their sweet and delicious nature.

Citrus speaks for itself, tangy, fresh and vibrant with predominant notes of citrus fruit oils. Citrus group fragrances are very refreshing and invigorating.

Green group fragrances are sharp and fresh like newly cut grass capturing the essence of summer. A small addition of green will make a fragrance crisp, the more that is added the more aromatic and refreshing the fragrance becomes.

Water perfumes are like a refreshing sea breeze and make superb summer fragrances. Dominated by water notes these are often mixed with citrus and green tones creating a fresh fragrance.

Floral, delicate distinctive and subtle tones of a summer garden in full bloom. Sweet notes of jasmine, honeysuckle and roses produces a fresh floral bouquet.

Soft Floral creates a soft but intoxicating scent, soft floral notes combined with Aldehides, a natural fragrance found in roses used to soften what could otherwise be an over powering fragrance.

Floral Oriental, sweet spicy notes combined with oriental floral overtones. Ingredients include Orange Blossom, Nutmeg and cloves often mixed with Aldehides to create sensual fragrances.

Soft Oriental are generally lighter than their Oriental counterparts, often created by adding layers of spice notes to a Floral Oriental base.

Oriental fragrances are exotic, sensual and intense. Combining a heavy mixture of Nutmeg, Cloves and Cinnamon, often lightened with the addition of Jasmine and Rose.

Woody Oriental scents utilise sandalwood, cedar and rosewood to create rich intoxicating and sensual fragrances.

Mossy Woods are fresh and earthy, combining Oak Moss with Patchouli and sandalwood to create the scent of the forrest. Mossy Woods fragrances are also known as Chypre Boise.

Dry Woods are smokey, musty and warm. Tobacco, burnt woods and peppery spices are combined and often lightened by the addition of citrus notes.

Aromatic Fougere are a universal fragrance family taking on elements of all other categories. Always popular with men as they are zesty and masculine but remain light and airy.

Fragrance Notes

You will have noticed that fragrances smell different as time progresses from the moment you start to wear a perfume or aftershave. This is due to a fragrance developing over time as it begins to evaporate from your skin. Each fragrance is created to have three layers, the top note, the heart or middle note and the base note. These are carefully put together to form a perfect balance of longevity, intensity and harmony.

Fragrance Notes Head notes

The initial scent of the fragrance when first applied which normally lasts 10 to 15 minutes. The head notes contains the most volatile oils that react quickly with the skin to give a burst of fragrance.

Heart notes

The main body of the fragrance that reveals itself once the head notes have dissipated. The heart notes are designed to last for 1 to 3 hours or more before the base notes take over.

Base notes

The longest lasting of the three notes that begins to come out with the heart note and together they form the theme of the fragrance. It usually take 30 minutes or more following the perfume application for the base notes to reveal themselves.

Head notes

The initial scent of the fragrance when first applied which normally lasts 10 to 15 minutes. The head notes contains the most volatile oils that react quickly with the skin to give a burst of fragrance.

Heart notes

The main body of the fragrance that reveals itself once the head notes have dissipated. The heart notes are designed to last for 1 to 3 hours or more before the base notes take over.

Base notes

The longest lasting of the three notes that begins to come out with the heart note and together they form the theme of the fragrance. It usually take 30 minutes or more following the perfume application for the base notes to reveal themselves.

Fragrance Tips and tricks

Perfumes, fragrances and aftershave should be kept out of direct sunlight and not exposed to excessive heat or temperature fluctuations as this will degrade the fragrance.

Fragrances often smell differently and may last longer on another person, so don't buy a fragrance just because it smalls good on a friend. The chemical make up and balance varies form on person to another.

As base notes develop the scent over time as they warm on the skin, don't base your purchase decision on how it smells on a fragrance card or a quick spritz at the perfume counter. Get a sample and try out the fragrance for a day.

For a longer lasting scent, apply your perfume to the back of your neck and hair, or spray your scarf with your favourite fragrance.