Your cart
VIST OUR NEW STORE AT THE FURLONG, RINGWOOD, HAMPSHIRE

News

The Wonderful world of Fragrance

The Wonderful world of Fragrance

Fragrance is amazing, it has the power to evoke memories and emotions with one simple inhalation. Smells envelop us, circle around us, enter our bodies and emanate from us. We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by scent. But it’s not a new phenomenon, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics illustrate that perfume played a part in life dating back as far as between 3500 and 3000 BC. It’s well documented about Cleopatra’s elaborate use of fragrance. When meeting Mark Anthony, her arrival was announced by clouds of fragrance before she came into view. Greece are credited with the art of making the first liquid perfume, although it was quite different from perfume as we know it today. They didn’t contain any alcohol and tended to be a mixture of fragrant powders and oils. However, it was Arabia who linked the past and present of the perfume industry. They created the process of extracting oils from flowers, for example rose oil.

 Fragrance really came into its own when Louis XIV took the throne in the 18th Century. He demanded a different fragrance each day! At this point perfume was a substitute for soap and water! I’m glad I wasn’t around then, I don’t think my nose could take it! Napoleon was another lover of scent and it’s been reported that he would get through sixty bottles of double extract of jasmine a month! His first wife Josephine favoured musk which was even stronger and it was reported that this fragrance lingered in her boudoir sixty years after her death! Wow, that must have been strong stuff! In early America the first scents were colognes and scented waters and at the turn of the 20th Century perfumes were single flower fragrances, for example rose, violet, lily of the valley. Floral bouquets were introduced towards the end of the first decade and after this fragrances continued to develop in complexity, including the introduction of many synthetic notes which were made in laboratories. Fragrances today are crafted by well-trained perfumers often referred to as ‘Noses’. In the past twenty years the use of technology has increased in the development of perfumes to find the best odour molecules that will activate the desired smell. Fragrance is both an art and a science.

 

Let’s go back to basics - How do we smell?

Without knowing it we smell a wide variety of odours throughout the day and night. Breathing in and out as we go about our daily lives, a myriad of chemical molecules interact subliminally with our odour receptors. It’s only when an odour is pleasing to us, or irritates, triggers a warning or jogs a memory that we take notice.

 

When we breath in through our nose air swirls up through the nostrils to a ‘sheet’ the size of a small postage stamp. This contains millions of receptor cells. It’s called the olfactory epithelium. Each of these receptor cells has minute filaments which stick out beyond the surface and contain proteins. They grasp the fragrance molecules as they float up our noses. A process then takes place whereby these sensory cells are stimulated. An electrical activity takes place to send messages to the olfactory bulb in the brain which determines the smell.  As we get older our sense of smell diminishes, just like our eyesight and hearing. The number of receptor cells and olfactory bulb nerve cells decrease.

 

 

Why use fragrance? Here are some of the benefits:

Nowadays it is more than a fashion accessory and depending on the type we choose they can be increasingly used to enhance our daily lives:

  • Elevate mood and positivity
  • Promote relaxation
  • Reduce stress
  • Enhance self-image
  • Retrieve memories
  • Improve concentration

 

Personally I have about six different perfumes on the go throughout the year. I will make a choice on which one to wear based on how I’m feeling that day, what time of year it is, what I’m doing that day and I’ll wear some kind of scent pretty much every day. I don’t keep fragrance for ‘best’. Best should be every day. We are worth that!

 

Fragrance and emotions

Our sense of smell is often referred to as our most primitive sense. As we have evolved we no longer need to spend so much time on survival which has made way for us to notice and enjoy the great outdoors – nature, flowers, plants, woods, herbs etc. The reason that fragrances stimulate our feelings is that our brains have been designed so that emotions and the sense of smell anatomically overlap.

 

Many of us have experienced that unexpected hit of nostalgia on smelling a particular scent. The memories of fragrance are generally associated with closeness or social events and are linked to the emotions we felt the first time we experienced it. In no time at all we can be teleported back to another moment in time – our nan’s house where her favourite soap filled the air, our mums kitchen with the smell of cake baking in the oven, a warm embrace with an old friend, an old book that we loved to read. Now this may sound bizarre but every time I smell tinsel (who knew it actually had a smell!) it instantly transports me back to me childhood Christmases. Such a wonderful memory. So every Christmas you’ll catch me sniffing any tinsel I can find!

 

What’s the basic construction of fragrance?

Have you heard of fragrance notes?

No musical notes involved here! But you may have noticed that if you smell fragrance as soon as you spray it on your skin it can smell quite different to smelling it once it’s been on your skin for several hours. This is because fragrances are complex, they are not a fixed object, they develop over time.

 

There are two types of main fragrance constructions.  The first is a classic horizontal formula (as described above). This is where the fragrance evolves as it warms and develops on your skin. The fragrance ‘notes’ – the top, middle and bottom ingredient notes are all separate. But as they merge and mix together the true scent appears.  Many perfumes follow this transition from top note to middle (heart) note and then to bottom (base) note.

 

However, the second type of fragrance construction is a vertical formula. This is where it has been purposely created to remain the same from the first note to the last note so they do not have that transition through a series of notes. There are even some formulas that have one solid dominating note all the way through.

 

Top notes

The important first impression when you initially spray the fragrance. Top notes are usually made of the most volatile ingredients. These are often fresh, citrusy, fruity and light. They quickly blend into the middle notes which is the second part of the fragrance

 

Middle notes

This is the heart of the fragrance and what classifies it into the right fragrance family i.e. floral, green, woody, chypre, spicy, oriental. Fragrance families are used to categorise fragrances. It usually takes between ten to twenty minutes for these heart notes to fully develop on the skin. They bring harmony and balance to the composition and they will often be flowery notes to provide the ‘bouquet’.

 

Base notes

These are made up of the underlying tones of the fragrance and are responsible for its lasting qualities. These tend to be warmer less volatile components that are woody, musky notes. It’s important to say that perfumes should not break up into three stages. If it is well balanced the transition should be impeccable. A perfume that falls apart is badly constructed.

 

So this is why, when choosing a new fragrance, we should spray and leave it on the skin for a few minutes to allow the scent to develop before making a decision. Try not to test more than three fragrances at one time as this will overwhelm the nose. A little tip is to smell the inside of the elbow to neutralise the nose before smelling the next fragrance, as long as fragrance hasn’t been sprayed here before.

 

Why can perfume be expensive?

The combination of exceptional ‘noses’, the long development process and the price of the raw materials are all very costly. So much expertise is involved in creating fragrances. They are like works of art. I like to break down the cost of my fragrances as a daily use cost which makes it more justifiable and like I’ve said before fragrance should be enjoyed every day. A pleasure to wear.

 

How can I get the most out of my fragrance? What’s fragrance layering?

Do you feel like your scent disappears throughout the day? Most fragrances will need to be sprayed during the day and/or evening. They won’t last all day if only spritzed first thing in the morning. Usually the more expensive the ingredients, and the higher the perfume concentration, the longer the fragrance will last. But there are ways to give it some longevity.

 

It’s important to note that fragrance doesn’t like dry skin. It needs moisture molecules to hook onto in order to stay put. If our skin is dry and dehydrated it’s not going to last. Ensure that skin is moisturised before spritzing.  This is where fragrance layering comes in. It’s when we use two or more fragrance forms together. Perhaps starting with a body wash or bath oil in the chosen scent, followed by the matching body lotion or cream and finishing with the perfume. This layering effect ensures the fragrance takes on a much softer character and stays around for longer. Ultimately this is a more economical way of wearing fragrance as, even though the initial outlay may be more, we will use less in the long run.

 

Where are the best places to spray fragrance?

Aim for pulse points (wrists, crook of the elbow, behind the knees, inside the ankles) But avoid the neck and chest as this can cause damage, pigmentation, blemishes and premature ageing. It is designed to be worn on the skin, to be warmed by the body and develop into a wonderful aroma. Don’t spray onto clothes as not only can this distort the scent but can damage the fabric too.

 

How should I store fragrance?

Although many fragrances come in the most beautiful bottles it’s best to keep them in their box and store in a cool dark place like a wardrobe or drawer. If kept in this way they will last six months to a year or even longer depending on the ingredients. My best advice is to use it little and often.  Don’t save it for best. Spritz yourself every day. You will know if a perfume has gone off or spoiled as its colour will have dramatically changed and it will smell different.

 

What are the different fragrance strengths?

The concentration of a scent is determined by its ratio of base (pure fragrance) to the dilutant (alcohol and water). Incidentally, alcohol is needed in a fragrance for longevity on the skin. It’s not like dousing ourselves in fragrant vodka. It’s a different kind of alcohol. The higher the concentration of base the more lasting the fragrance will be on the skin. Parfum is the highest concentration and will only require two or three dabs onto the skin. Eau de Parfum is next and can be applied more but not too liberally. Think less is more. Eau de toilette contains less parfum which makes it light to wear but can still be long lasting. Eau de Cologne is very light and can be applied liberally and often. There are also lots of other concentrations on the market which tend to be quite subtle in strength, for example, body spray, body mist, aftershave, perfume veil. Long gone are the days of only being able to choose from perfume for women and after shave for me. Nowadays there is an abundant choice with tonnes that are suitable for everyone.

 

How much fragrance should I use?

This is completely personal and will depend on what strength of fragrance is being used. As a general rule no one should be able to smell your fragrance if they are more than an arm’s length away from you. We don’t want to overpower those around us. If anyone enters our personal ‘circle’ they should be able to smell it. As a side note, many people think their fragrance disappears because they can’t smell it. However, our noses become desensitised to the scent. It’s not gone away and other people can still smell it. So there’s no need to dowse ourselves in a bucket of perfume throughout the  day.

 

Perfumery & Company offer an extensive range of fragrances in their store and on their website. I’d like to spotlight one particular fragrance range of theirs  – L’Atelier Parfum. A unique, creative and long lasting collection of scents within their Opus 1 Le Jardin Secret range. I believe that there is something for everyone to choose from. The team select natural high quality ingredients that are ethically sourced locally in France and the rest of Europe to limit their carbon footprint. Made in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, their essences are formulated by excellent French craftmanship who endeavour to include up to 90% ingredients from natural origin. They are vegan containing no animal components and they don’t test on animals.

 

There are seven Eau de Parfum fragrances in the range and, depending on taste, are not gender specific. I’ve highlighted some of the notes within each to try to paint a picture of how each might smell:

 

L’Atelier Parfum

 

Coeur de Pateles

A luxurious floral fragrance with notes of bergamot, rose, raspberry and almond. A subtle cheerful scent that evokes memories of spring.

 

Arme Blanche

With notes of neroli, orange blossom, jasmine and sandalwood this is a delicate floral fragrance which reminds me of a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.

 

Verte Euphorie

A light and fresh invigorating citrus scent containing blood orange, grapefruit, petit grain, carrot and white cedar. I love a citrus fragrance and this doesn’t disappoint.

 

Rose Coup de Foudre

With notes of Turkish rose, patchouli and amber this is a rose fragrance like no other.  It’s captivating, sensual and dynamic whilst not overpowering.

 

Belle Joueuse

This is a modern sexy chypre, containing raspberry, ginger, rose, tonka bean, vetiver, and a soft amber. An understated elegant fragrance.

 

Douce Insomnie

With notes of pink berries, cappuccino accord, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli this is an intense and passionate perfume perfect for an evening out.

 

Exquise Tentation

A powdery sweet sensual fragrance full of opulence, containing bergamot, blackcurrant, rose, lily of the valley, almond and vanilla. A dramatic and heady spicy vanilla scent.

 

All fragrances are available to try in store.

Continue reading

Night Creams – Would your skin benefit from using one?

Night Creams – Would your skin benefit from using one?

 

During my last two blogs I’ve written in depth about moisturisers. Feel free to take a read if this skincare staple is new to you. They are an essential part of looking after your skin as they have many benefits, including:

 

  • Help to protect the skins natural barrier.
  • Keep it hydrated by maintaining our natural moisturising factors.
  • Prevent moisture loss from our skin.
  • Soothe irritated skin.
  • Fight against free radical damage which can cause fine lines, a break down in collagen, blemishes and pigmentation.
  • Smoothing the skin’s surface.
  • Providing a perfect base for make up to be applied so that it stays put all day.
  • All of which can improve the appearance and feel of our skin.

 

Many brands not only produce day time moisturisers for different skin types but also evening moisturisers.  More often than not they are called night creams and they are designed to be used at the end of our evening skincare routine before going to bed.  I’ve mentioned before about how I’m a fan of starting my evening routine a couple of hours before going to bed. This means that through cleansing my face I’m getting rid of any make up, SPF (sun cream), dirt, pollution, sweat etc before treating my skin with other products. I usually, but not always, finish with a moisturiser. As I do all of this way before my bedtime the products have a chance to penetrate into the skin so that my face doesn’t stick to my pillow! It also means that by the time I go to bed I can feel if my skin needs any more hydration, in which case I can pop a little more product on.

 

Our skin is repairing all the time, the difference at night is that it isn’t being hit left, right and centre by dirt, sunlight, environmental aggressors etc. and having to protect us. Therefore it can go into full repair and regeneration mode by increasing blood flow and cell turnover, rebuilding collagen and repairing damage from UV sun exposure.

 

Does everyone need a night cream?

 

I’ve said before that we generally don’t need lots of moisturisers. There are other steps in our skincare routine that warrant a selection of products i.e. toners/acid toners, serums etc. We should choose a moisturiser that is suited to our skin type, so even those with an oily skin can benefit from the right moisturiser and quite often this can be used day and night.  However, there are instances where a night cream would work really well and be a valuable part of our evening routine. Both day and night creams are purposely formulated differently.  In short, day creams protect the skin whilst night creams work hard to repair and regenerate and you’ll normally find that day creams are generally lighter in texture than night creams, which tend to be richer.

 If skin is particularly dry, dehydrated, uneven in texture, uncomfortable or there are real concerns about signs of ageing then a night cream can be a great addition. It’s important to note that as we get older our skin’s ability to retain moisture reduces, so our need for moisture increases. It can also help induce repair by amplifying cell turnover. Be guided, in the first instance, by how the night cream feels on the skin, if it just sits on the surface it is probably too rich and may clog pores which can result in blackheads and other blemishes. It should sink in and leave the skin feeling comfortable. Don’t forget to apply cream to the neck and cleavage (décolleté) area too. There’s no point in having a lovely looking face, but a neck and chest area that doesn’t match. Any excess product can be massaged into the back of the hands. Waste not want not I say!! However don’t apply a thick moisturiser around the eye area as this can result in puffiness which is not a look most of us are aiming for when we wake up in the morning! A good cream can also reduce that droopy creased lines look we might get after several hours in bed (a silk pillow case can also reduce this from happening). Bear in mind that if you exfoliate your skin regularly any product that is subsequently applied will sink in and work far more effectively than if you don’t. You’ll definitely get more for your money as you won’t need to use as much product each night.

If you are really not sure if your skin would benefit from a specific night cream you can do a little experiment. Take some time to establish your skin’s night time needs. Cleanse your face in the evening and go to bed bare-faced i.e. don’t apply anything else. When you wake up, go straight to a mirror in good light and look at your face. Do you have any dry patches, does your skin feel sensitive, is your complexion a little dull, do you look a bit deflated or drained? If this is the case you may benefit from something which boosts cell turnover, plumps or really feeds the skin with nourishment and much needed moisture. If your skin feels oily and congested on waking you may benefit for something skin balancing. Don’t think that night creams are only for night time use either. It is possible that, if your skin is particularly stressed, sensitive, parched, these technical formulas can deliver an intensive hit of nutrients whenever needed. The important thing to remember is that our skin can go through cycles and changes and therefore it’s advantageous to have a couple of options available depending on what your skin is like, what season we are in, your hormones, stress levels etc.

Here are a few night cream options available at Perfumery and Company 

Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream

Suitable for all skin types (I think this may not be enough for really dry skin though)

This cream is specifically targeted for those of us who are experiencing hormonal changes as we get older. I would say that if your concern is loss of firmness, pigmentation spots and dehydration give this cream a go. Montpellier Rock-rose works to reduce the appearance of dark pigmentation spots and evens out the skin tone. Harungana extract, also known as a healing tree in Madagascar, replenishes the skin to prevent it from sagging and has been proven to increase firmness. Ginkgo Biloba brightens the skin giving it a rosy glow. Shea Butter is such a fantastic ingredient as it provides a lasting hit of hydration and nourishment.

I certainly noticed my skin glowing on application and the next morning. It is a beautiful lightweight cream with a delicate floral fragrance. It’s been a delight to apply to my face, neck and décolleté at night time.

Clarins Multi-Active Nuit – Targets fine lines, revitalising night cream

Suitable for normal to dry skin (I think this is fair, it would be too heavy for an oily skin type)

If you are concerned about noticing the first signs of your skin changing and getting older i.e. fine lines and lack of radiance perhaps due to tiredness I would suggest this cream. Golden Poppy extract revitalises the skin (which is great if you’ve not had a lot of sleep!) Organic teasel extract promotes the production of energising molecules which help fight against free radicals, therefore helping to protect the skin and boost glow. You will also get a lovely dose of hydration to maintain skin health.

I know fragrance isn’t an important factor in skincare to everyone but I like products to smell nice, unless of course they are fragrance free and I use plenty of these too. This cream has such a comforting soothing fragrance that reminds me of suntan lotion and being at the beach. This is slightly richer in texture than the Super Restorative Night Cream but sinks in to the skin effectively.

 Clarins Extra-Firming Nuit – Wrinkle control, regenerating night cream

Suitable for all skin types

This cream has been designed for skin which is experiencing a loss of firmness and the appearance of wrinkles.  It will also keep hydration levels high. Kangaroo flower plumps and helps to firm the skin whilst Moonstone Hydrated Silica encourages the regeneration of skin cells for a healthy radiant complexion. It’s a lightweight cream that is easily worked into the skin so should work well with oily/combination skin types and has a delicate fresh woody fragrance. Apply as your last skincare step before bed.

If you are local to Perfumery and Company pop in to check out their night creams or browse through their website (Clarins can be ordered on the phone).

 N x

Continue reading