Ever wondered why your go-to fragrance seems to evaporate within the hour? How about the real difference between eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and eau de… whatever? We know that bottle is precious, so allow us to remove some of the guesswork surrounding your favorite scent—from the proper application technique to the ingredients behind it.
Have you ever loved the way a scent smells on a friend, only to be disappointed when you try it out yourself? Everyone's body chemistry is different, and it actually impacts the way scent sits and develops on your skin—which is cool, because it means a fragrance is completely unique to you. Same goes for how long the scent sticks around. (It's also the reason why gifting a new perfume is not the most practical idea, unless it's a scent your recipient already knows and loves.)
Because it's so reliant on body chemistry, anything from a rise in temperature to what you're eating can alter the way a fragrance develops on your skin. Take the morning after a late night out, for example: "Your body is diffusing the byproduct of the alcohol, which is a very sugary substance, and it's pushing out through your pores," Lurk perfume founder Anne Sanford tells PopSugar. "So it's going to change the way your perfume smells because the scents are interacting with one another."
While it might change and develop on your skin, the scent in the bottle should stay consistent for many years with proper storage. If the color or fragrance changes at all, it might be time to toss it out.
This is an expert trick to ensure your perfume stays fresh as long as possible. Don't want to give up precious food real estate? Robert Gerstner, co-founder of Aedes de Venustas in NYC, says that storing it in a cabinet or any dry, dim place is just fine, too.
It's a surefire way to break down the scent and ruin its longevity. Instead, spritz it onto your hair or on freshly moisturized skin, and don't touch it as it settles.
It all comes down to the proportion of scent, water, and alcohol. Parfum is the most concentrated version of the scent (usually 15% or more), which is why these formulas are often more expensive. Next in potency is eau de parfum, followed by eau de toilette, and finally eau de cologne. Colognes typically contain 2% to 5% of the essential scent—that's the true definition. However, it's come to be an umbrella term for any scent marketed to men.
Most experts will tell you that the division of "male vs. female" fragrances is all marketing hoo-ha, and it seems that consumers would tend to agree: In fact, one-third of scents marketed to men are actually purchased and worn by women.
Thought it was all just flowers and essential oils? Think again: Many "essences" are crafted using synthetics that mimic the scent of rare and expensive ingredients. And then there are those infusions that are technically natural, but just plain bizarre: Castoreum, for example, is a coveted, leathery musky note that comes from the secretions of beavers. In many formulas, "jasmine" notes are actually sourced from indole, which is derived from coal tar. And extremely rare ambergris, a sweet, earthy scent, used to be extracted from the stomachs of beached whales—before it became widely outlawed, that is.
The scent extraction process requires an extremely high volume of natural ingredients just to produce a small amount of fragrance solution. Case in point: Chanel No. 5 famously contains the essence of one thousand jasmine flowers in every single bottle.
Don't feel bad about your wandering nose—the average woman owns five fragrances. (Have you spotted any potential additions to your collection here?)
Read more mind-blowing facts about the perfume industry here, and tell us: Which scent are you loving right now?