* As featured in Ahmedabad Mirror 

Selecting and applying perfume is an art, the nuances of which not many are aware of. The ones who get it right, emanate fragrance and freshness. You can be one, too. Here’s an aroma compendium.

Rajiv Sheth, Perfumer All Good Scents


If applying perfume or deodorant randomly before leaving home is a ritual, don’t be shocked, you are getting it all wrong! Not only does the use of a perfume differ from that of a deodorant, but the same perfume might also smell different on different people, too.

Perfumer, Rajiv Sheth says, “You have to find which fragrance suits you best and that becomes your signature fragrance.” Which means, you can’t pick any perfume and think it might smell good. And yes, there is a science behind applying perfume, too.

Know Your Fragrances

Perfumery is a vast subject, even detergents come under it. People interchangeably use perfumes and deodorants/ antiperspirants, but they are not the same. Rajiv explains, “Perfumes come under fine perfumery, a new concept in India. Deodorants, aftershaves, et al, form toiletries. Bodysprays, deodorants, and for that matter antiperspirants are utility products used for covering sweat, masking body odour and are linear in fragrance, which is not the case with fine fragrances. The latter is used for pleasure, the fragrance of which evolves with time. The raw materials used are expensive, too. Then, we have functional perfumery which includes washing powder, shampoos, soaps, etc.

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Understanding fine fragrances are various aromatic compounds and raw materials diluted in alcohol. They vary according to the percentage of fragrance oils in them.

Rajiv says, “Perfume has the highest concentration of fragrance oils and lasts for more than 12 hours. Eau de Parfum, which comes next in line, lasts for six to eight hours. Eau de Toilette, which lasts for four to six hours, can be used when you are going out or want to make an impression. Perfume Mist is the most recent addition to the perfume family. It is the lightest version of perfume and lasts for three to four hours. It can be used when you are taking a morning walk, or going to the gym.”

As the concentration of fragrance oil increases, a perfume’s longevity and intensity increases, and so does its price. But that doesn’t mean the pricier fragrances are better.

“There is no such thing as inferior or superior perfumes, it just has various types. It varies from person to person if they want to use a lighter, or a stronger fragrance.” Rajiv adds.

Layering Scents 

Applying various fragrances one after the other referes to layering. Rajiv avers, “Layering is a good practice, it makes your fragrance last longer. One example of layering is applying perfume mist in the morning and later option for Edt of the same fragrance when you are going out or to the office, the fragrance keeps building on. Also, if you first use a body wash, then a mist, followed by a hand cream and later a perfume containing the same fragrance, it referes to layering. This gives you a long-lasting odour.”

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Hitting The Right Note(s)

Perfume is a melange of various fragrances classified into base note, middle (heart) note and top note. Rajiv says,

“The top notes are the ones that evaporate quickly, for example, lemon and citrus which will last for five to ten minutes. Floral ingredients like Jasmine and Rose form the middle note. Longer-lasting fragrances like Sandalwood Oil come under base note. Just like musical notes combine to form a tune, similarly, these notes blend to form a fragrance. After testing a fragrance at a shop, you will emit a different odour once you reach home, this is because the top note would have evaporated by then.”

Choose Well

Rajiv, with over 16 years of perfumery experience in Grasse and Paris – believes that you can find your signature fragrance only by trial and error. But, “you need to consider a lot of factors while choosing a fragrance, like a season, mood and occasion.”

Workplace: Make sure your fragrance doesn’t bother your colleagues. It is just to uplift you and help you through the day. So, applying fresh-floral fragrances or light fruity fragrances with Tangerine, Green Apple or Peach will be apt.

Romantic Date: While on a romantic date, floral fragrance will be a good choice. A floral bouqet or white floral fragrance with Lily of Valley or Gardenia notes will work well. Spray the fragrance on your pulse points and avoid heavy floral fragrances such as Tuberose, Jasmine and certain Roses.

Party: Apply a perfume that celebrates your individuality. Oriental and Musk perfumes are the best choices because they have warm and captivating notes of Patchouli, Spices, and Vanilla.

Brunch: Choose a marine fragrance with aqueous notes to feel calm and on a holiday.

“Also, the other factor you should consider is to apply perfume on your skin and not on your clothes while testing it as the fragrance might smell completely different on each. After testing, observe how it develops on your skin and ask your friends and family. The perfume should be both comfortable and should go with your personality.”

Busting Perfume Myths

There are claims that perfumes can cause cancer. Rajiv informs, “If quality natural aromatic chemicals are used in the making of a perfume, it won’t be harmful. Besides, ethyl alcohol is to be used to make these fragrances. Many people in India use methyl alcohol, which is cheaper but carcinogenic in nature. So, one has to be careful while buying perfume and has to choose the right brand and product.”

How To Wear Perfumes Right 

Perfumes smell best when applied to the skin at the various pulse points. Rajiv says, “The warmth of the body makes the perfume emit its fragrance in a nice way and the fragrances last longer. Some of the pulse points are wrists, inside elbows, behind the ears, and between the breasts and neck. But be careful of not overdoing it, or letting it go unnoticed either. Some fragrances last longer when applied to moisturized skin.”

Bizzare Perfume Facts

Can you believe that people spend millions to buy what is called the ‘whale vomit’? Yes! You heard it right. Ambergris, produced in the digestive system of sperm whales and later ejected in the water, is used in the making of some perfumes. Rajiv says, “It is really very expensive. Some people even use sweat of civet cat and glands of beaver in the production of perfumes.”


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