is a quintessential potion, which covertly impresses human senses. Heady
perfumes continue to mesmerize many as they continue to express themselves
elusively all the while. V. Srinivasan of PSVR Enterprises, Chennai with wide
experience in dealing with perfumes and fragrances articulates the nuances of
scents with Medindia.
What is the difference between a perfume and an essential oil?
Perfumes are a blend of natural oils and aromatic chemicals. Essential
oils are natural oils, concentrates, which are derived from nature such as
flowers, wood. Of late essential oils are also available in synthetic form. The
fragrance one gets from perfumes is because of the natural oils mixed in the
concoction. The use of essential oils is versatile where they are used in
scented candles, aromatherapy, incense sticks, room fresheners, and other
Do fragrances really have the enigmatic effect people have been claiming
Perfumes are known to make many feel good which
explains markets flooding with perfumes, essential oils and scented items.
Lavender used in room fresheners is capable of soothing the mind of a
traumatised or stressed or mentally tensed
or restless person.
Then, why do some people get headaches?
Some people are known to be allergic to certain smells, ironically even
the ones used in pain balms, the purpose of which is to alleviate pain and give
relief. Some fragrances are known to cause nausea and some people get headaches
at the smell of any fragrance. Fragrances in hospitals may irritate or cause
allergy or have an adverse effect on a patient. Jasmine, a common smell gives
headache to many. Also, a fragrance has many factors impacting its influence
such as its storage conditions, climate, the surface it is used on, the body's
reaction to the chemicals to mention a few. Reason is hard to say because it is
just like how one falls ill when they travel in a bus.
How safe are essential oils?
Essential oils are natural, very few of them are
synthetic. At the most people buy essential oils for items produced in a
cottage industry. It is mostly used in aromatherapy. In a facial, there's a
combination of chemicals that may emit an unpleasant odour and adding essential
oil offers pleasurable feeling. Only sandalwood oil is available in its purest
form, which emits the sandal odour, but even that tends to give mild castor
tinged smell unlike the synthetic ones. The absolutes of rose, jasmine and
lavender are too harsh; one does not even get the fragrance of the original
flower. They have to be combined with other materials such as oils and
chemicals before they can be used.
What are some of the traditional Indian fragrances and Middle-East fragrances?
Roses, jasmine and sandalwood are traditional Indian fragrances. India
tops the chart when it comes to jasmine and sandalwood because jasmine does not
grow in many climates. Tourists in India are found wrapping their wrists or
necks with jasmine garland. Agar or Oudh is a popular fragrance from the Middle
East, slightly strong. Oudh comes in two forms, wood rolls and in diluted form.
Attar is basically natural oil, raw perfume non-diluted in alcohol. When
Muslims go into the mosque they wear a non-alcoholic fragrance.
Many people have taken it as a hobby to create fragrances at home. Can one make
perfume at home?
There are over 100 essential oils used for various purposes. However
making perfume at home is highly improbable because it is tedious and one would
need a license to procure certain ingredients such as ethanol used in perfume
making. It takes many ingredients to make a perfume including many essential
oils in appropriate combination.
How are fragrances segregated between men and women and between domestic and
For cleaning, people prefer lemon grass oil and
citronella java oil, whereas for room fresheners people have preferences, so no
one fragrance can be mentioned in isolation. Some prefer subtle fragrances
while others may prefer stronger ones. It's something like the music one hears
in fancy places. You realise there is music in the air, but can't say for sure
what is being played. Even the perfumes people wear, they are becoming unisex.
Kids may have a liking to fruity fragrances.
What of the colours in fragrances?
Ancestors have assigned colours to certain fragrances, which is
registered in our minds. By nature, essential oils and even most perfumes one
finds in the market are colourless. So colours are added to assist people to
identify perfumes with these colours. For example shades of pink is associated
with a rose fragrance, mild yellowish shade with jasmine, woody brown for a
sandal. Certain cleaning products are marketed in blue, so if the company
changes the colour then it might not have the same appeal to the buyers.
Fragrances are omnipresent despite preferences.
Time tested obsession to gratify the olfactive faculty has led to the creation
of perfumes, essential oils, incense sticks and even the discovery of the fumes
of gum benzoin. In fact each human is given his or her measure of pheromones.
Need we elaborate on why fragrances continue to enamour us! Medindia thanks V.
Srinivasan for sharing his expert insight into the world of fragrance.