Friday, September 2, 2011

Fragrance Friday, or: Amy Sniffing Her Way Through Her Collection of Perfume Sample Vials and Then Talking About It

Another weekly feature!  Yaaaay.

I have a lot of perfume vials in my collection, having received them as free samples with many orders and purchases.  I love getting perfume samples, and gravitate towards them when choosing my free Sephora samples.  I discovered my winter fragrance that way (Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb)!  Though who knows if that will remain my winter fragrance...

Anyways.  One of the other bonuses of getting samples is that you can figure out what scents you don't like, with the ability to try them in different circumstances and weather (I find perfumes smell very different on me after I've been sweating than when I'm cold, and sample vials give me the flexibility to experiment). In this new ongoing series (zomg I know you're so excited like wow), I'll be giving snapshots of my perfumes.  As I've mentioned before, I'm really bad at describing fragrance notes, but I will do my best to do a couple of sentences on how it smells to me, as well as provide links to the fragrance pyramid for each perfume.  Keep in mind that all opinions are my own, and perfumes smell different on different people!  What I hate, you may love, and vice versa.

Before I get to the reviews, here's a quick tutorial on the basics of perfumes.  
First up, perfume oils.  These are what make perfumes smell, and the concentration of oils is what distinguishes the different formulas from each other.  Perfume (extract) is the most strongly scented, longest-lasting option (and therefore the most expensive).  According to Wikipedia, even perfume extract isn't 100% fragrance oils, and is rather generally around 20%.  The strongest commonly-available concentration is in Eau de Parfum (edp), which has ~15% aromatic oils.  Eau de Toilette (edt) comes next, around 10%, and Eau de Cologne is around 5%.  Body splashes and the like are generally 1-3%.

Besides being classified by concentration, fragrances are also grouped by family.  From Osmoz's fragrance families for women, we have:

Citrus: composed mainly of citrus notes, often with floral or chypre notes mixed in, citrus fragrances are generally light and fresh
Chypre: based on oak moss, bergamot, and patchouli, chypre fragrances contain floral and fruity notes as well (my beloved Chance eau fraiche is a chypre);
Floral: the most widely used category in fragrance, floral notes combine well with all of the other families
Oriental: characterized by amber, musk, and woody warmth, orientals often feature exotic spices and floral notes

There are 4 big groups of male fragrance families as well, but I'll leave it up to you to explore those.  Each of the families above can be broken down into further subcategories, which I will deal with when they apply to a particular fragrance.  I highly recommend going to Osmoz and playing around, because there is an impressive wealth of information there that is very useful when getting into fragrances.

Fragrance pyramids are a way of visually representing the components of a perfume.  Top notes are what you smell right after spraying the perfume, and they're the first to fade.  Light florals, citrus, and green notes are often used as top notes.  Middle notes are heavier than top notes, and they combine with the top notes to form what you smell for most of the time wearing a perfume.  They include bolder florals, citrus notes, and lighter woods.  Base notes are the heaviest, and the last to fade.  They include amber, musk, woody notes, and are the platform upon which the top and middle notes stand.  All of the notes interact with each other, and the combination of notes is nearly as important as the notes themselves.

Okay then!  Questions?  Comments?  I'll link back to this post for my future reviews, in case you ever need a refresh of the infos.  I don't know how long this series will take me (depends on if I go on an obsessive streak with it or not), but I hope you find the posts at least a bit interesting and informative!
End tutorial/rambling

This is where the links to the reviews will go!  Yay!
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