The marks of bourgeois attitudes and values can be defined by some unwritten laws. Some are markedly significant, and the others are as trivial as they come. Body fragrance is one of the unwritten laws. Ever since the amassing of wealth became a vital goal in asserting status and commanding respect in society throughout history, society continuously became fragmented through social classes defined by how much people owned. The higher social classes were increasingly concerned with how they were perceived by those around them and these distinctions went beyond what people owned to the scents they used. The scent used was one of these unwritten laws that would mark ones’ social standing.

These aromas represented more than just the scent, they portrayed class and distinction. Overtime, perfumes and the need for agreeable scents became more than just a luxury for the wealthy and are now widely used all over the world. Perfume is a mixture of ingredients that include fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents that are used to give the body an agreeable scent.

Ancient texts show that the use of perfumes has been ongoing for centuries, between 16th and 17th centuries, perfumes were primarily worn by the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from infrequent bathing but the ascent of modern perfumery in the 19th century was spurred on by the development of commercial synthesis techniques of aroma compounds such as vanillin or coumarin, which allowed for scents that were previously unattainable from natural aromatics. Perfume oils are usually mixed with solvent even though the necessity is disputed; these solvents are usually mixtures of ethanol, water or neutral smelling oils like fractionated coconut oil or liquid waxes.

Depending on sources, there are many ways of describing perfumes types. However the most used descriptive distinction of the different perfume types is by the unique qualities of the aromatics used such as concentration of aromatic compounds in the solvent. Concentration longevity and intensity of perfume depends on concentration, intensity and longevity of its aromatic components, with women’s fragrances known to have higher levels of aromatic compounds than the men’s fragrances.

As the perfume industry grew in the 20th century, there arose a need to offer lighter, less concentrated version of earlier perfumes to increase availability and serve a wider range of customers and from then on, their use has been seen to exponentially increase.

There are some important points to note in the application of fragrances that have been encouraged by the perfume industry. These include;

  1. Fragrances are usually applied at pulse points which warm the perfume and continuously release the fragrance. Pulse points include behind the ears, the nape of the neck, and the inside of the wrists, elbows and knees.
  2. Layering the perfume to release different intensities of fragrance at different times of the day
  3. Eating spicy and fatty foods can increase intensity of a fragrance.
  4. A relatively dry skin will not hold fragrance as long as the skin with more oil.

Fragrance compounds in perfumes will degrade or breakdown if improperly stored in the presence of heat, light, oxygen and extraneous organic materials. They are to be kept away from light and sources of heat and we will expound on this in our next article.

The market for perfumes is worth billions of dollars worldwide and still has Italy and France as the main center for perfume design and trade.


  1. Bur, Chandler (2003). The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the last mystery of senses. New York random house
  2. The fragrance foundation
  3. Turkington, Carol & Jeffrey S. Dover (2009). The Encyclopedia of skin and skin disorders

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