How Is Perfume Made 101: Production, Ingredients & Fun Facts

Ever wondered how perfumes are made? Are you interested in the ingredients they contain? Since ancient times, people have been obsessed with masking their body odour with a more pleasant smell. As a result, they used perfumes in the form of pressed oil, burning wood, and dried herbs. But technology has come a long way.

Today, the perfume industry is a growing market. Based on 2018 reports, it was valued at $31.4 billion, and by 2025, it is expected to expand a staggering 3.9%. Experts estimate that by 2025, the global fragrance market will be worth around $52.4 billion.

If you want to learn more about the perfume manufacturing process, you are in for a treat. We compiled a detailed guideline of what it takes to create your favourite fragrances. Here is everything that goes into making the most pleasant colognes on the planet.

Perfume Ingredients

The majority of perfumes contain 10% to 20% of perfume oils dissolved in water and alcohol. Colognes, on the other hand, often feature a 3% to 5% oil diluted in 80% to 90% alcohol. The final product contains 10% water. While Toilet water has the lowest levels of perfume oils – 2%. The oils are dissolved in 20% water and 60% to 80% alcohol.

What Are Expensive Perfumes Made Of?

Perfumes made of natural ingredients are the most expensive products on the market. They are incredibly rare, painstakingly difficult to obtain, and highly regulated products. Therefore, it's normal for a perfume that contains these ingredients to go up in price.

The most expensive ingredients in perfumes are:

  • Sperm whale excrement
  • Oil of Agarwood
  • Iris-root butter
  • Tahitian vanilla
  • Sandalwood oil
  • Real musk

Also, ingredients that are off-season tend to become expensive from time to time. Such as the ylang-ylang found in Madagascar. The final formula has such high-end concentration that it becomes impossible to replace with anything synthetic. This gives users a sense of luxury, uniqueness and increases demand.

How Is Perfume Made?

There is a lot of work that goes into making a perfume. Manufacturers collect the ingredients, extract the oil, blend the formula, age the product, and do a quality check. Each of these processes has an important role to play.

But, a good perfume is just like fine wine. Ageing plays a predominant role in its quality. With the help of various technological advances, manufacturers have perfected the blending mechanisms and created outstanding scents. The typical perfume is made by extracting the preferred oil either from natural or synthetic ingredients.

Can Perfume Be Natural?

Absolutely. Organic perfumes are free of pesticides, chemicals, and toxins. They are also designed to minimise environmental damage and avoid animal testing. There is a reason people go for an all-natural product.

According to a 2017 survey of more than 1,000 perfume consumers, 19% of buyers stated they prefer a 100% natural fragrance product. That's 4% more than what shoppers were interested, back in 2016. Natural formulas don't result in animal mistreatment and are easy on the skin. 

Who Owns the Most Expensive Perfume?

According to CNN, the most expensive perfume costs a staggering $1,295,000 for just 3 litres. The Emirati perfumery stated it took three years of meticulous research and almost 500 perfume trials to create this stunning piece.

Adorned with 18-karat gold, 3,571 diamonds, massive pearls, and almost 6kg of pure silver, this lavish perfume stands at almost 2 meters tall. The manufacturers didn't disclose their buyers, but it is definitely the most expensive fragrance on the globe.

Is Whale Vomit in Perfume?

A wacky discovery of sharp bits of whale vomit a long time ago turned into a thousand-dollar industry. High-end perfumes contain an ingredient called ambergris, which is basically whale poop.

The ambergris is created inside the sperm whale's digestive system. It helps their body digest shards, such as squid beaks, for example. The whale often vomits these bits. If it doesn't, they will then move further down the gut and become covered in a sticky-like substance. This is the ambergris.

Which Type of Perfume Lasts the Longest?

Products that contain anywhere from 10% to 20% of perfume oil last the longest. Perfumes like Eau de Parfum can last about 8h, while lighter products with 2% to 4% perfume oil last roughly 2 to 3h.

Perfume Notes

Perfumes rely on notes when it comes to making a worthy product. They are levels made to assess the product's purpose, potency, and effect.

How Do Perfume Notes Work?

In perfumery, Notes are used to describe the scents that you sense the moment you apply the perfume. They are classified into three segments:

  • Head/top notes – These notes feature light and small molecules that evaporate fast. These are what we call sharp, assertive, and fresh fragrances. The scent is very potent and volatile.
  • Heart/middle notes – Notes such as these are more rounded and mellow. The scent takes about 20min to 1h to disappear after the perfume has been applied.
  • Base notes – These nodes bring solidity and depth to a perfume. Products in this class have heavy and large molecules. The scent takes time to evaporate and often produces a deep or rich fragrance.

Every group is selected based on the evaporation process and the primary use of the product. The goal is to use the notes to market fine fragrances.

What Are Fragrance Base Notes?

Typical fragrance base notes are oakmoss, musk, vanilla, amber, cedarwood, sandalwood, and patchouli. They tend to mix with the middle notes and form a complete body of the scent. The primary goal of products such as these is to create a lasting impression.

According to research, there was a 63% reduction in stress rates among patients doing MRI scans after using vanilla scents.

What Are the Main Ingredients of Perfume?

Every perfume has its own unique formula and scent. The smell will vary based on the ingredients the product contains. Manufacturers can use raw natural materials, such as spices, flowers, balsams, leaves, resins, wood, etc. It is not uncommon to use animal secretions either. But, cheaper products mostly rely on other fixatives and synthetic chemicals.

Which Type of Perfume Lasts the Longest?

Base notes last the longest. The scent is so potent; it can linger for hours. This is something high-end fragrances are designed to achieve.

Perfume Manufacturing Process

Perfume manufacturing is carried out in multiple stages. It focuses on dissolving materials used for making the product and creating solvents, which will eventually evaporate. But, to really understand the procedure, you need to immerse yourself in every process.

How Do You Manufacture Perfume?

The perfume manufacturing process features five main stages, each with its own impact.

  • Stage 1: Collection – The ingredients are harvested from all around the world. Perfume chemists also use aromatic chemicals to get the desired effect.
  • Stage 2: Extraction – The oil is extracted from the ingredients. Manufacturers use solvent extraction, steam distillation, expression, enfleurage, and maceration to create the fragrance.
  • Stage 3: Blending – Specific oils are mixed to create a unique formula. Most blending processes use various oils with different concentration levels.
  • Stage 4: Ageing – High-quality products are aged for a few months to a couple of years. This ensures quality and lasting fragrance.
  • Stage 5: Quality control – The final product must be tested before it is ready for sale.

What Is the Most Common Ingredient in Perfume?

Flowers are probably the most used ingredients in the perfume industry—particularly essential oils made of jasmine, mimosa, rose, and narcissus.

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