Do you want to choose the most suitable perfume for you? Each fragrance tells something about the person who wears it and choosing it is not easy. Find out how to choose a perfume with this handy guide.


The perfumes are aimed at the sense of smell and are “specials” because they describe fragments of matter through shades that are imperceptible to the other sense organs. The smells communicate with the most archaic part of our brain, generating emotions, sometimes inexplicable, and recalling memories distant in time.

Perfume: what it is, what it is for, who creates a perfume

The perfume is a mixture based on alcohol (usually ethanol), water and odorous substances, both natural and synthetic, used in order to provide pleasant olfactory sensations, which induce a sense of well-being. The perfume can be in spray or even solid and cream.

A perfume comes from the experience, creativity and individual sensitivity of people with an incredible olfactory memory, capable of recognizing and remembering thousands of different smells. These “noses” start from an idea, a concept and, skilfully mixing the essences, gradually give rise to an element of “olfactory consistency”, impalpable but intense. The creation of a perfume is a very complex operation and not only must respond to the composer’s creativity, but must follow precise rules in the combination of the different fragrance components.

How to choice perfume: the concentration of the fragrance

The first thing to consider is the type of perfume we want to buy or give away. Depending on the type of perfume, the intensity of the fragrance can change, and obviously the price. So let’s start with the label and let’s get some clarity straight away. Based on the concentration of the fragrant essences, it is possible to distinguish different classes of dilutions:

  • perfumed water: it is usually alcohol-free and with a very low concentration of perfumed essence (less than 3%);
  • eau de cologne: contains about 3% concentrate in 85% alcohol. It is fresh, volatile, sober, but much less valuable than the perfume extract, EDP and EDT;
  • eau de toilette (EDT): contains 6-8% of concentrate diluted in 90% alcohol; in the eau de toilette there is a predominance of the top notes, which evaporate in a short time but is fresh, discreet and can be used at any time;
  • eau de parfum (EDP): it is the most used product; is an alcoholic solution containing about 10-20% of essence diluted in 90% alcohol. It has a persistence of about 4 hours: significantly higher than an EDT;
  • perfume extract: it is the most expensive and sophisticated form; it has a high concentration of perfumed essence: it contains 20-30% of essence in 96% alcohol. It is tenacious, intense, persistent.

How to choice perfume: the perfume notes

The olfactory pyramid is a theoretical representation of the evaporation times of the different components of a perfume and consists of three levels that allow you to describe the persistence of a fragrance and its development over time, through the olfactory notes, which are divided into:

  • top notes: they are perceived as soon as the fragrance is applied to the skin and they disappear after a very short time. They are light, volatile, fresh; they reach the nose first and generate the initial impression of the perfume. The oils that compose them, in fact, evaporate more quickly than those of the heart or base notes, for this reason they provide an imaginary starting point for those who smell the perfume. The top notes are acute and penetrating and are generally easy to interpret, as they carry familiar olfactory concepts, such as citrus fruits, coriander, mint, cardamom, black pepper. Without top notes, the perfume would appear dull and difficult to understand.
  • middle notes: also called “central notes”, they are stronger and characterized by a medium duration. They define the personality and body of the fragrance; they are slow, voluptuous and almost all belong to the floral family, as well as some green, fruity and spicy notes. They bridge the distance between the light top notes and the deep base notes, binding them in pleasant harmony and giving continuity to the “olfactory theme”. The combinations between these notes generate sophisticated, sensual, attractive chords. Among the main examples we remember the flowery essences, endowed with lively and harmonious qualities, but also hypnotic and voluptuous (jasmine, ylang ylang), the green essences, which recall the smell of cut grass and wet leaves, the fruity essences, particularly intense and decisive.
  • base notes: they represent the real essence of the perfume, they are the ones that persist the longest. They appear after about 30 minutes, evoke wild aspects of nature (soil, forests) and are linked to the instinctive dimension of the unconscious, of darkness. Often they are liquids obtained from bark, roots, resins, lichens. These notes anchor the perfume to the skin and slow down the evaporation of the other components of the fragrance, making it more persistent. Among the main examples we find the wood essences, which recall the aromatic woods, the musky and earthy ones, typical of the damp undergrowth, the spicy ones (vanilla, tea, coffee, cocoa).

Usually a perfume is considered “harmonious” when it respects the following proportions: 20% of base notes, 10% of heart notes, 70% of top notes. Each perfume has a precise formulation that distinguishes it and differentiates it from any other.

How to choice the perfume right for you: the olfactory families which you prefer

Although the fragrances are thousands, all characterized by their own identity, it is possible to group them into some large classes, called olfactory families. They revolve around well-defined olfactory agreements and are part of the yield of essences that perfumers have available to compose the most varied and elaborate olfactory agreements. In 1990 Jean Kerléo classified seven perfume families:

  • floral are one of the most important families, within which a large part of the female perfumes fall, from complex bouquets of flowers to soliflores such as rose, jasmine, lily, narcissus;
  • citrus (or “hesperidates”): at the basis of these fresh and harmonious accords there are citrus fruits such as lemon, bergamot, orange. Generally they are perfumes loved by both men and women, like Dior’s “Eau Savage”, which adds notes of basil, lavender and wood to an expert base;
  • fougère take this strange name from Fougère Royale (“royal fern”), perfume created in 1882 by Houbigant. Lavender, wood, oakmoss, amber, bergamot and coumarin intertwine in the fougere;
  • cipriati are named after a particular fragrance, Chypre by François Coty. The family that derives from it has as its basis a complex chord of notes, in which the warm patchouli is combined with oak moss and bergamot. The subfamily of fruity cipriati should be mentioned, with strong and sensual base notes, accompanied by aromas of peach, rose and jasmine;
  • woody are for the typical male fragrances: they are characterized by intense accords given by sandalwood and patchouli, with in some cases dry notes of vetiver and cedar;
  • amber are accords of sweet, almost vanilla notes, combined with the strength and persistence of musk and ambergris. Oriental, evocative, mysterious;
  • leather are the most masculine perfumes ever, with dry, smoky notes of burnt wood and tobacco.

Modern perfumery uses numerous synthetic ingredients, which make infinite combinations possible, for this reason within each family there are further nuances (subfamilies) that offer the possibility to describe the composition of a fragrance in a more precise and detailed way.

Online Perfumes: those you will find on Erboristeria Como

In the perfumery of Erboristeria Como you will find the organic perfumes Made in Italy of the Tuscan company “Domus Olea”, in which the powerful antioxidants of the Olive Leaf blend with intoxicating fragrances to create the first functional perfumes, made with organic alcohol. Very soon our news for women and men!

Dr. Laura Comollo

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  • Dermocosmetologia. Dall’inestetismo al trattamento cosmetico- di Andrea Bovero, 2011
  • Storia di un naso- di Laura Tonatto, Alessandra Montrucchio, 2009.

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