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26 Aug 2022

What’s that smell? — A guide to perfume and fragrance

What is the heart of a perfume? What is enfleurage and why is Chanel No. 4 not as famous as No. 5? These are just a few of the questions we will answer in this article. Of course, we’ll also go over the basics, what to look out for, how to best use perfume and what our first perfume, Golden Ember, smells like.

Parfum 2

Perfume, fragrance, and bathhouses

Scent is something that appeals to us on a very basic level. You probably have many scents that are linked to hugely powerful memories. For example, the scent of your childhood home, the familiar chlorine smell in a bathhouse or the perfume your first partner wore. Smell is undeniably a very important element in our lives. Like so many other things, perfume and cologne can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which were then further developed by the Romans and Persians. East Asia also had perfumes and perfumeries, but these were mainly for incense.

Elements of a perfume

Perfume is usually divided into top notes, middle/heart notes and base notes. It is said that these three create the chord of the perfume - the overall feel of the perfume.

Top notes

These are the scents that you feel immediately when you apply the perfume. Top notes evaporate quickly and are often described as 'fresh' and 'sharp'.

Middle or heart notes

The middle notes are the scents that follow the top notes. They are also called heart notes because they are considered to be the heart of the perfume. It can take up to two hours for the heart notes to emerge, depending on the composition of the perfume. In contrast to the top notes, the heart notes are described as "round" and "rich".

Base notes

The base notes, together with the heart notes, form the main theme of the perfume. They evaporate slowly and often have a slightly 'heavier' character than the top and heart notes.

How to use perfume

You've probably seen people spray perfume on their wrists and rub them together. It's both right and wrong. This is because you want to apply the perfume to heat sources or "pulse points". That is, where you have superficial blood vessels that heat your skin a little extra and spread the fragrance better. But you don't need to rub your wrists together. There's no risk of "destroying the molecules" as some say. However, it may make the top notes evaporate a little faster, without improving the scent in any way, so skip the rubbing next time.

If you want the perfume to last longer, apply a body lotion before applying the perfume. This is because when the skin is moist, the scent stays longer. However, be sure to use a lotion that doesn't smell too strong. Mixing fragrances is rarely a good idea. Finally, avoid getting perfume on your clothes. This is partly because perfumes with a higher concentration can stain, but also because the perfume simply doesn't work as well on clothes.

Perfume is perfume, right?

You've probably seen EdP and EdT when looking at different perfumes. It's the concentration of the perfume, the more perfume oil it contains the longer and stronger it smells. The different types available are (in descending order):

Parfum

This is the strongest concentration and contains between 15-40% perfume oil. The most common concentration is between 20-30%. A parfum lasts a very long time but is usually slightly more expensive since you don't need to use as much as the other varieties.

Eau de Parfum

An Eau de Parfum has a 15-20% concentration and usually lasts quite a long time as well. Many people prefer an EdP in the evening when they want a scent that lasts all evening/night without needing to be touched up.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de Toilette is one of the most common concentrations. It ranges from 5 to 15% and usually lasts two to three hours. In other words, it can be a good idea to take your EdT with you and touch it up if you want the scent to last longer.

Eau de Cologne

Eau de Cologne is similar to an EdT but has a concentration of 2-4% instead.

Eau Fraiche

Eau Fraiche is the lowest concentration and contains 1-3%. Unlike the other variants, this contains primarily water instead of alcohol.

What should I consider when choosing my perfume?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a perfume.

  • Test the perfume for a whole day. 
As we talked about a bit further up, the fragrance is divided into three parts. When you test the perfume for a full day, you get to smell the top notes as well as the heart and base notes.
  • A perfume smells different on different people A perfume blends with your own scent, so it's important to remember that a perfume that smells good on a friend won't necessarily do as well on you.
  • Learn which notes suit you. Once you've tried a few different perfumes, you'll start to get a feel for what suits you and your natural scent. For example, you can check out which base notes you prefer and use this to find a new perfume. The more you try, the better you'll get at picking "your" scent.
  • Don't be afraid to match your perfume to your style. It's easy to fall into classic perfume scents that don't necessarily match your style. Not everyone needs to wear heavy scents a la James Bond. A fresher perfume can often be a better fit if you prefer to dress light and casual.

Mr Bear Family's first fragrance

With Classic Selection: Golden Ember, we're releasing our first fragrance. It is a Parfum and contains about 25-30% perfume oil. This means that it stays on your skin for a long time and makes sure you smell good all day.

Golden Ember - a range with fragrance in focus

It is of course possible to combine different fragrances, but the result is not always what you expect, and it's easier to only use one fragrance. That's why we wanted to create a range of beard, hair, and skincare products that all have the same fragrance. Of course, we also updated the recipes, ans this series gets its nourishing properties from safflower and birch which do wonders for both skin and hair. In short, if you like the fragrance, you'll love Classic Selection: Golden Ember. In Golden Ember you'll find the following scents:

Top notes: Smoky, Tea, Cassis

Heart notes: Oliban, Vanilla, Tobacco Leaves

Base notes: Noble Wood, Amber, Leather

It starts off in a light smoky place and carefully moves through noble wooden accords, pleasantly surprising you along each corner, before rounding off in a carefully curated world of spicy, oriental nuances.

– Mr Bear on the Golden Ember-fragrance

A little summary

We understand that you've been wondering about both enfleurage and Chanel No. 4. And those who wait for something good never wait too long.

What does Chanel No. 4 actually smell like?

The designer Coco Chanel commissioned a couple of different perfume suggestions from perfumer Ernest Beaux. When she received the suggestions, bottle number five was her favourite. And so it was that perfume that scented the changing rooms of her stores. The public never experienced a Chanel No. 4.

Enfleurage - must be a made-up word, right?

It is a real word, and a real process of extracting fragrance by placing flowers, for example, in fat that is both unscented and solid at room temperature. After a couple of days, the fat has absorbed the fragrance and then the flowers are replaced until enough fragrance is achieved in the fat. However, this is a fairly uncommon process nowadays.