About Men’s and Women’s Fragrances

Fragrances run the gamut from pungent perfumes to barely-there aftershaves or splashes. The composition of all of these is similar, with perfume oils or “aromatic compounds” diluted by a solvent, which is ethanol most of the time. The percentage of aromatic compounds to solvent varies with each type of fragrance, with women’s perfumes like eau de toilette, eau de parfum, and pure perfume running from a ten to 40-percent concentration and men’s cologne with a two to five-percent concentration. Aftershaves, which are often grouped in with colognes, have a percentage of aromatic compounds less than two percent.

Each fragrance, regardless of whether it’s a perfume or cologne, has three parts: high, middle, and low notes. Some of these notes can be complex, with several types of floral fragrances relegated to the middle. But no matter what composes the fragrance, the high notes are those you smell immediately when you spray the fragrance and the middle notes soon settle in after that. The lower notes tend to support and creep in afterwards, even up to 30 minutes after the fragrance is sprayed. All types of fragrances have this composition, and this includes the traditional fragrance classifications of single floral, bouquet, amber, wood, leather, chypre, and fougere.

Modern fragrances, especially those from the past twenty years, often follow a different set of scent classifications. Modern fragrance classifications typically include green, bright floral, aquatic, citrus, fruity, and gourmand. Many of these can be found in both perfumes and colognes. Citrus, green, and aquatic fragrances are common for both men and women, although more feminine scents like bright floral are added to a cologne. Cologne, a much more low-key fragrance, often sticks with a spice, lavender, and amber template, but in some cases, citrus or floral notes are added to this. Similarly women’s fragrances combine floral and green notes or floral and gourmand, or sweet, dessert notes, into one perfume.

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