What is Perfume Made of?

Perfume is a mix of essential oils (such as orange oil, jojoba oil, lemon oil, etc.) and aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give men and women a pleasant and attractive scent. Much of the fragrances that are used in perfumes are incense based… and these in large part hailed from India.

The earliest attar was mentioned in the Hindu Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita. The Harshacharita, written in 7th century A.D. in Northern India, mentions the use of fragrant agar wood oil.

History records that the world’s first chemist is thought to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the second millennium BC in Mesopotamia. According to the same historical sources, Tapputi mixed distilled flower oils, and calamus with other aromatics, filtered the mixture and put them back in the still several times.

What is believed to be the world’s oldest perfumes were recently discovered by archaeologists in Cyprus, at a site called Pygros. The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years and were discovered in an ancient perfumery with at least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles found in the 43,000 sq. foot “factory”, so to speak. In those days, people generally used herbs and spices, such as almond, bergamot, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin as well as flowers. However, whether these ‘perfumes’ were specifically meant to be men’s perfumes is not known! But we have truly come a long, long way since then. Literally and figuratively…