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Perfume Classification 101

Hey beauty lovers,

Let’s talk about perfumes (is it perfumes or fragrances?).

Just as we were investigating the beauty industry we were surprised to discover that there is a world of unshared knowledge about perfumes classification. And why is that? No idea. But, we decided to share it with you. (Note to self, research fragrance vs perfume).

Perfume creation involves the selection and combination of the right mix of raw ingredients, perfumeirs use their knowledge to create unique olfactory combinations (We all know this, right?!).

However, what we did not know (myself included) is that throughout history, perfumes have been classified using the fragrance wheel, aka aroma wheel, fragrance circle, perfume wheel or smell wheel.

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- Insert history note -

The first example of a fragrance wheel was conceived by Austrian perfumer Paul Jellinek, being named the Odor Effects Diagram, and published in the original German edition of his book The Practice of Modern Perfumery (1949).

In 1979, the Fragrance Circle, was developed by U. Harder at Haarman & Reimer.
In 1984, the sensory chemist Ann C. Noble, developed the Wine Aroma Wheel.
And in 1992, and the Fragrance Wheel, was created by perfumery taxonomist Michael Edwards.

- The End -

The wheel is a circular diagram showing the inferred relationships among olfactory groups based upon similarities and differences in their odor. However, it is still a very broad classification as the different proportions in between the raw materials create different perfume identities. Enter another type of classification, more specific and based precisely in each perfume identity - the olfactory, fragrance or perfume pyramid.

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- Insert history note -

Perfumer Jean Carles, who was a perfumer at Roure, later became Givaudan, established and taught the olfactory pyramid.

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The Olfactory Pyramid is based on the study and classification of the fragrance’s raw materials according to their volatility - top notes have a very high volatility, heart notes a medium volatility and base notes a low volatility. Each perfume will have its own olfactory, fragrance or perfume pyramid depending on the fragrance’s life-cycle, which is simply the speed of evaporation (volatility) classification for each perfume component. (Mind blowing right?)

Another important classification tool is the (smart) H&R Genealogy / Symrise Fine Fragrance Genealogy which comprises a complete overview over the most popular fragrances of today as well as the past four decades.

- Insert history note -

Over 40 years, Symrise has been mapping the most successful and popular fragrances worldwide and has clustered them into a tabular overview according to their launch year and fragrance family. Every fragrance family and single fragrance comes with a detailed description. Grouped into feminine and masculine fragrances and the nine fragrance families – perfume enthusiasts find comprehensive information on the most successful fragrances.

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Sum up: we absolutely love, love, love that we can show and share the classifications of each perfume and (soon) recommend other perfumes similar to the ones you already use and adore. How smart is this? I must admit I am pretty excited with this idea ;)

Smart shopping to you all beauty lovers.


(From moi, per toi)