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Myth of Perfume

Perfume has come a long way. Today we have perfume for every taste, for every mood and situation. Perfumes are a mixture of essential oils derived from flowers and other plants, and certain aromatic chemicals. These oils are mixed in different concentrations with a fixative (such as ambergris or musk) and alcohol, and then aged for about a year. This creates a perfume oil.

"Two people can't maintain a relationship if they don't like each other's smell."

Fact: Women are more attracted to the way a guy smells than how he looks. At least that's what Rachel Herz, Ph.D., a professor of experimental psychology at Brown University in Providence, RI, found in her recently published study. When she asked 332 college students (166 of each gender) a series of questions about what attracts them to the opposite sex, women consistently rated the olfactory cues (a.k.a. how they smelled) of their potential mates as more important than visual cues (a.k.a. how they looked).

Women (and men) have worn perfume for all of recorded history, and probably even longer. In Egypt, men and women went heavily perfumed, and even wore a waxy cone of perfume on their heads that melted in the heat to release its scent. Frankincense and myrrh are both known as perfume additives. In the Middle Ages, men and women carried around perfumed pomanders (often made of oranges pierced with cloves) to ward off evil spirits and bad smells.

We use the generic term 'perfume' to describe anything in a perfume bottle, but there are actually important differences between an eau de toilette and a perfume. A perfume extract is the most concentrated form of perfume, with between 20 and 40 percent perfume oil and the rest fixatives, alcohol, and water. Eau de parfum is 10-20% perfume oil, eau de toilette is 5-10%, and eau de cologne is the least concentrated with only 2-3% perfume oil.

When applied, your body heat evaporates the water and alcohol, leaving a layer of perfume oil to be absorbed into your skin. This oil will evaporate gradually over several hours. If you have dry skin, you may have noticed that scents applied to your skin disappear quickly; you can lengthen the time your perfume stays on by applying a thin layer of unscented baby oil to your skin where you are going to apply perfume. Or you can apply it only to parts of your body that are naturally oily; this, plus body heat, is why people dab perfume behind the ears.

Perfumes also interact differently with different body chemistry; just as everyone has a slightly different body scent, perfumes will smell a little different on each person. That's why the perfume that smells so good on your co-worker is absolutely rancid when you wear it. And perfumes are very much a part of your own self-image, so even though you like the lavender and rose scents your mother or conservative co-worker wears, you would hate them on yourself.

Whether there's cologne you swear by and refuse to discard, or know it's time to change your trademark scent, you can find some of the greatest colognes available, right here.