All over human history, perfume has been used to improve attractiveness of men and women. Nowadays, many types of perfume are available. Although everyone knows at least the most famous brands, there are few people that know what their ingredients are. Here there is a brief overview of the ingredients that the modern industry uses and some words n their provenience.
The two main categories of ingredients are natural and synthetic. Plants, animals and other sources (usually vegetables) are the source of almost every natural scent. Usually, the source of animal aromatic compounds is the odorous sack. However, there are a few exceptions, such as ambergris (it derives from a fatty compound, originally produced by sperm whales). Another exception is honeycomb, a derivative of beeswax or honey.
One of the most common sources for scents are plants, and almost every part of them is used to produce perfumes. From the bark to the flowers, passing for leaves and fruits, many plants can provide precious odorous ingredients. Resin is also an important source for aromas, especially those coming from conifers.
There are also other natural sources, such as lichens and seaweeds. The latter are, however, not widely used because of their higher costs and lower potency when compared with their synthetic counterparts.
Synthetic sources are widely used by the modern perfume industry. This happens because synthetic aromas are usually less expensive than the ones derived from natural sources. It is also possible to produce big quantities of artificial fragrances, and the process can be automatized, since synthetic sources are constant in composition. On the other hand, natural sources have a different composition every time they are collected, and the perfume recipe thus changes from time to time.
From these sources, industries produce many types of perfumes. Their quality (and cost) depends on how much aromatic compound there is in the product. So there is the Eau de Parfum, that has the highest concentration of perfume oil. Following there are Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne, with lower concentrations.
There are many types of perfumes, that have an almost endless variety of scents. The traditional classification of perfumes has seven categories in which they are grouped. There are two categories of perfumes that are produced with flowers, and they are Single Floral and Floral Bouquet. The first is used to indicate a fragrance dominated by a single flower, while the latter means that no dominant flower can be identified. The other categories are Leather, Ambered, Wood, Fougere (in this category the base is composed of oakmoss, lavender and coumarin). The last category, Chypre, is used when the base contains labdanum, patchouli, bergamot and oakmoss.
So the variety of perfumes is huge. A man or woman who wants to buy one can choose among many types of scents, different power (depending on the aromatic compounds concentration), and it is also possible to decide if a natural or synthetic source is what he or she wants. Nowadays, there are so many different perfumes that finding your perfect choice will probably take a very long time and many tries.