Fragrance Friday- Ask the Expert with Jennifer Mullarkey of Perfumania

Dear readers, I am going to try something a bit different for this week’s Fragrance Friday post. Rather than tell you about a new fragrance that I am currently loving, allow me to highlight some key fragrance factoids, as stated by the fab Jennifer Mullarkey of Perfumania. I recently had the opportunity to pick her beauty brain, and here is what I learned!
What’s in a fragrance?
A fragrance is made up of a combination of natural essential oils and synthetic chemicals/molecules.
There are different techniques used to obtain ingredients used in fragrances, such as extraction, distillation, enfleurage, expression, headspace as well as the creation of synthetic molecules that mimic the odor something possess in nature but cannot be obtained through traditional techniques.  Perfumers have a much larger pallet of ingredients to work with today because of the synthetic molecules that continue to be created and refined.
What are the basic fragrance types/families?
The Basic Families are:
Women – citrus, floral, chypre and oriental
Men – citrus, fougere/aromatic, wood and oriental
These families are further broken down into a number of subcategories i.e. Under florals you have fruity floral, green floral, floral spice…
What is the difference between and EDP, and an EDT?
Differences between cologne, EDT, EDP and Perfume is the fragrance concentration.  Cologne has the lowest percentage of fragrance oil while perfume has the highest.
From lowest to highest:
There is no set rule on the amount of fragrance oil that needs to be in the fragrance in order to claim whether it is an EDT vs. EDP.
Tell us more about notes. How does one decipher them?
For the average consumer, seeing and understanding a list of fragrance notes/ingredients can be difficult.  Many do not have any real meaning for the consumer.
However, notes within fragrances have specific aromas and characteristics that a consumer can definitely identify.  So even if they don’t know the name of the ingredient, they may be able to identify the character.
For instance, if you smell…
“banana” – this is a characteristic in some white florals, specifically in Jasmine (can have a unripe/green banana effect)
Green grass – associated with an ingredient called cis 3 hexonal
Baby powder – can be a mixture of musk and vanilla
Earthy/damp basement – this can be a quality of patchouli
Nail polish note – usually signals benzyl acetate
Cat pee/ammonia – can be from a black currant/ cassis
Cotton candy/sweet – ethylmaltol
Body odor – cumin note
Strong animal note – could be civet or indol (found in white florals)
What are the tricks to finding the fragrance that is perfect for you?
The best thing about fragrance is that it is subjective.  What might be right for one person, may not be right for you.  When looking for a new fragrance I would recommend the following:
  1. Never try more than 4 fragrances at one time (as you smell your nose becomes saturated, if you smell too many you may not pick up on all the characteristics in the fragrance).
  2. Let the salesperson know some of the current fragrances you wear and like, they may be able to help steer you to the right fragrance based on the type you fragrances you usually gravitate to.
  3. Plan to put the fragrance on your skin.  Fragrances smell differently on paper than they do on skin so it is important to see how a fragrance wears on your skin.
  4. Don’t purchase based on initial spray.  A fragrance changes over time.  What you smell upon introduction is not what you will smell the majority of the time you are wearing it, so if possible put the fragrance on and go for a walk around the store before making your final selection.
  5. And finally, don’t limit yourself to one fragrance.  We select fragrances for many reasons – our mood, a special occasion, for work, for the weekend – you name it.  Today, more and more consumers have what we call a fragrance wardrobe.  They can pick and choose they type of fragrance they want to wear for that particular day.
Finally, what does fragrance mean to you?
Fragrances for me are expressions of our mood, our style, ourselves.  I love that fragrances can set the tone of my day.  Fragrance is like an accessory that finishes off your outfit or reminds you of someone special. Fragrance can convey a strong message or be a personal signature.  I couldn’t imagine living in a world without it.
Special thanks to both Jennifer, and Perfumania. Thoughts on the interview? Share them in the comments!

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