Perfume and cologne has scented the skin of humanity for many centuries. The name cologne originates from the town of Cologne in Germany and is a combination of alcohol, essential oils sometimes mixed with water to be called eau de cologne. Perfume is a less dilute form of fragrance usually of a higher quality with a more long lasting fragrance that is usually more expensive than the cologne.
In general, colognes are designed to appeal to men and perfumes are often created with a female audience in mind. Colognes tend towards a spiciness that appeals to men more than women and perfumes are quite often more floral and are traditionally worn by women. The first perfume was nothing like the products that we know today. Originally oils were poured over fragrant woods, herbs and resins to be burnt during religious ceremonies.
Herbs were also burnt during the ceremonies and people soon came to realize that the oils took on the fragrance of the herbs and resins. The first perfume was created when this fragrant oil was poured onto the skin. It was a vastly different creation to the colognes and perfumes that we know today.
The earliest version of modern perfume originates from the Arabic lands where an Arabian doctor first used the method of distillation to extract essential oils from herbs, creating the first truly liquid perfume. He blended the oils with alcohol and water to create the earliest versions of modern perfume.
A French perfumer later decided to distill the essential oils found in rose petals and the first floral scent was created. Keep in mind that the early perfumes were heavily scented with resins and overpowering herbal scents like rosemary, cloves and so on. The delicate floral scent of roses was a revelation in the perfume world and the modern perfume was born.
The sweet scent became extremely popular and the delicate scent or roses soon became a signature of many fragrances. Perfumers began to design perfumes, picking out what is referred to as different perfume notes. These can include powdery notes, herbaceous notes, floral and leather notes, wood notes, spice notes, fruity notes, green notes, tea notes and oriental notes.
Other available fragrance notes include tobacco notes, aquatic notes, resinous notes, salty notes, linen notes and gourmand notes. These gourmand notes include rich, decadent scents that can range from coconut to caramel, chocolate, coffee, amaretto, gingerbread, honey, almond and cherry.
Perfumers devised clever ways of layering their fragrances, dividing the scent into base, middle and top notes which revealed themselves over time. Top notes are the first things you notice about a perfume directly after it is applied to the skin and will last for roughly fifteen minutes. The middle notes then become apparent and these will last roughly twenty minutes to half an hour. The base notes will then come to the fore.
Chemistry is a factor in perfumes and each one will react differently on your skin. The same perfume will also smell completely different on your skin to what it might smell like on another person, so bear in mind that each fragrance will be better suited to some people than to others.