Fun fact: even though Glossier You Solid came back today, solid scents have existed for centuries. Even much longer than the alcohol blends that we usually consider perfumes. They were one of the first scents to use, as they are some of the easiest to produce: all you need is essential oil and wax. “It wasn’t until around the French Revolution that fragrant oil began to mix with alcohol and put it in a spray bottle,” says perfumer and fragrance historian Marissa Zappas, “and it requires very specific technical processes.” While perfume solids could only be used on the body The scents opened up a world of fragrant possibilities – although in practice not always so beautiful. “It was sprayed everywhere and even poured into the sewers, used to mask the smells of the decaying city.” Mmmm!
Now the choice between a solid, spray or roll-on scent depends less on your hygiene habits and more on personal preferences. They are just different! To find out which one you like the most, Marissa suggests asking a few important questions. “What do you, as the bearer, want the scent to reach? Is longevity important? Is discretion important? “What about price, packaging and portability? Each form has its pros and cons – let’s go through them together.
Most perfumes are supplied in a spray because they are made with alcohol and are intended for spraying. Marissa says this combo revives the scent: “The atomizer releases it in microscopic droplets, which increases its projection and affects how the scent is worn.” Rolls also have a liquid base, but the liquid in question is a mixture of carrier oils. The solids are usually wax or petroleum based, packaged in low profile cans that can be easily twisted with a finger. That’s why solids are especially great for traveling – they don’t spill or bounce off airport security – but they can give you problems in a steamy climate. Have you ever left lip balm in a hot car?
One more thing: alcohol-based perfumes tend to be large, while roll-ons and solids can be a little dirty. Sometimes it’s to make the price more affordable. “The price generally depends on the quality of the raw materials used in the composition and then on the oil / alcohol ratio,” explains Marissa. “Oil is much more expensive than alcohol, so higher concentration fragrances will generally be more expensive.” However, a simpler design can also lower the price, while a luxurious, custom-made one (because you can only recognize a designer scent by its silhouette) could kick-start it.
Key difference: The perfume spray serves as a decoration, while the thin, simple packaging of oils and balms are best for travel.
It feels like:
“Applying oil or balm is more intimate because it needs to be rubbed in directly,” says Marissa. And you already know that oil is nutritious, unlike alcohol, which tends to dry out. But it also points out that plant extracts used in oil-based fragrances can also cause irritation. “Natural ingredients are not always safer for the skin.” If you have super sensitive skin, a known allergy or eczema, a traditional perfume made with a synthetic scent may actually be a smarter choice. If there is a problem with alcohol, you can also spray it on clothes or hair to minimize skin contact, or use unscented milk as a barrier before application.
Key difference: The perfume shower looks like nothing; oils and balms have a creamy and intimate effect.
It smells like:
If roll-on and firm scents make you think of Whole Foods, it’s because overall they are more likely to be made from essential oils. “Roll-on and solid oils generally have a simpler formulation, using fewer ingredients,” says Marissa, although there are exceptions. For example, the solid scents Diptyque and Glossier use artificial compounds, as well as rollerballs from Le Labo and Byredo. On the other hand, Heretic scents are alcoholic, but they only get their scent from essential oils and extracts. This is rare for spray fragrances, as oil-based fragrances of varying complexity may be more difficult to obtain. Both are more complicated to manufacture.
Another big reason why oil-based balms and roll-tones tend to smell softer is that they literally …physical– sit closer to the skin. Their scent is activated by your natural body heat, and oil-based scents tend to be heavy in the base tone (such as sandalwood, vanilla, and musk) to complement it. Plus, they don’t need top notes (smells strong at first but fades quickly) to mask the initial smell of alcohol. As you will have to lean to get a breath, “Firm and roll-on scents can look more personal.”
Key difference: There are bigger differences between spray scents; oils and balms smell softer and simpler.
While common wisdom might tell you that concentration determines wear (perfume water usually has 10 to 15 percent pure fragrant oil, while perfume 20 to 30 percent) is just one piece of the puzzle. As Marissa notes, “It’s possible to have a low-concentration scent that lasts all day and a high-concentration scent that doesn’t.” tend to stick. Another thing that affects evaporation is where you applied it: the oils turn color, but because the alcohol evaporates from the fabric more slowly, it lasts longer if you spray it on your clothes.
“The combination of alcohol and atomizer gives the perfume its volume and strength,” explains Marissa. But if you’re not interested in leaving a large odor trail, the subtler scent of an oil-based scent may actually be exactly what you’re looking for. “I recommend them to people who don’t necessarily want to take up a lot of space.”
Key difference: Spray fragrances fill the room as oil-based fragrances approach; you can spray traditional scents on clothes to prolong their wear, but the oils last longer.
Photo via ITG