Perfume Longevity, Sillage & Identity


There are only a few things in which botanical/natural and synthetic perfumes are similar, one of them is the general structure of a fragrance. All the rest differs so much that it is just not correct to include natural perfumes into the category of synthetically made perfumes, they are just a different product and there is no sense to compare them. But it is essential for a natural perfume beginner to understand why natural perfumes are different in order to wear them properly and enjoy them.

From the point of view of a perfumer it is hard not to scare away organic skin care enthusiasts since some of them are still they are used to the same quick effect of mass market products. They are bright, their packaging and marketing cost more than the product itself. Those who look for quality ingredients, a manifesto related to environmentalism, know it is all about the inside of a bottle and who stands behind it.

Some terminology. 

Longevity refers to how long a fragrance can last on your skin.

Sillage is a French word which means how far the scent can be smelled.

Let me clarify about different types of natural perfumes and ingredients used in them.

Natural perfumes as such may use animal products, botanical perfumes do not. Here are the two other perfume types. Animal products have become scarce but are still used by natural perfume artisans. Those are musk, civet, ambergris, etc. Some of them are still cruelty free, such as ambergris. Animal materials do add longevity to perfumes. 

Some perfumers use natural isolates, molecules which were isolated from a natural fragrance. There is a big debate on that among artisan perfumers. It is somehow hard to determine HOW natural it is and is usually left for a perfumer to decide if he/she would like to use it. In short, natural isolates do add longevity.

There are many botanical alternatives which can fix the perfume and make it last longer. It is all about the formulation and quality ingredients, as well as an individual body chemistry.

So, the first question about longevity for a beginner is if botanical perfumes do last on skin as synthetic perfumes. Depending on the perfume type, formulation, concentration, your body chemistry, other conditions (humidity, temperature), perfume longevity can be very subjective. On average botanical perfumes last 2-8 hours. Why I say it is subjective because feeling your perfume and sniffing your skin very closely can be too different things. On the other hand people have different notions of how strong perfume is in fact on their skin. So I never give exact words about longevity, it is very individual, it is only when you try a certain type of perfume, you will know how long it stays on your skin and also what you would like to be used in your natural perfume.

But there are so many ways to make them last longer: wear not on your pulse points but on hair, clothes, scarves, etc. You can pre-fix them by applying perfume on clean and moisturized skin. Use unscented balm or oil.

Botanical and in general natural perfumes have a very intimate sillage, it is mostly you and a person maximum one meter or even less can smell your perfume. They are made to be enjoyed by you, not people around you.

For some people it is very important to have a perfume which would last all day, for others it is about the quality, the subtle aroma and the uniqueness of a fragrance. Depending on the ingredients used, some evaporate faster, like top citrus notes, others much slower like heavier base notes based on resins, for instance. Some ingredients closely interact with your skin natural scent and create unique aromas, so intimate and inherent only to a wearer. That is why testing a botanical perfume is a very important step. I suggest to slow down and take a couple of days to "taste" a certain sample.

Depending on your mood, physical condition, weather and other factors, the same perfume can create different variations on your skin. If it is cold, the perfume will last slightly longer, in summer essential oils will evaporate faster. 

A perfume bottle or flacon type can also help you in many ways. When I thought of designing extrait de parfum, the most important argument was not to splash and not to waste precious perfume. Applying extrait by drops is a very convenient way to control where you want your fragrance to be. Splashing can slightly increase the sillage but not always. Re-applying perfume during the day is another way to prolong the scent. But very often one needs a small bottle to carry with them. That is why a 15ml flacon is a very convenient option. But if you are a fan of spritzing you can always pour my perfumes into any spray bottle and use it as you wish. My perfume flacons are reusable too. 

When I started making perfumes, as a beginner myself, I was concerned about this big question of botanical perfume longevity, because I read many reviews and blogs, many of them were really disappointed. Although real perfume connoisseurs never mention it but highlight the general perfume composition. If you would like to really wear botanical perfumes, you will have to become to learn them from inside, learn to appreciate the ingredients, the accords, the idea behind them and the purity of raw materials. This makes botanical perfumes stand out and this creates their identity. I think natural perfumes are made to slow down and enjoy what nature has given us and what people transformed into essential oils, absolutes, tinctures and other types of extractions, the least processed and most multi-faceted in their aromatic composition.

By discussing how long botanical perfumes last on skin, how well others can smell it, or if they are in general worth investing, it is rather important to learn how good and sublime the notes are, what type of rose was used and how jasmine grandiflorum differs from jasmine sambac, it is more interesting and exciting to learn how notes change on your skin, how real floral essences smell, and how earthy resins and pure vetiver oil can warm you up on cold days. It is breathtaking to train your senses, try new aromas, broaden your olfactory experience. It is so worth smelling real natural fragrances which change depending on a harvest season, your mood or skin and let other people discuss how much longer a certain natural perfume can be worn in comparison with others. In the end we are all hedonists if it concerns perfumes.

Kamila Aubre4 Comments