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Perfume Through the Ages

17 April

Although most of us consider a spritz or a dab of perfume to be part of our daily routine, like many other things we take for granted today (eating utensils, baths, casual and special occasion clothes, leisure time) it once was relegated to the upper echelon of society. Non-royalty need not apply!1

King Tut not only cornered the market on over-the-top gold and bejeweled confections in ancient Egypt, he also probably had some pretty fabulous personal fragrance swag, too. Although some historians think perfume may have existed prior to the Egyptian empire there’s no archeological evidence; so the ancient Egyptians are credited with its invention.


  • Perfume was oil based
  • The water lilies were the most common ingredient
  • Myrrh and non-native flowers and botanicals were imported as additional and exotic ingredients




By the Middle Ages perfume had taken on another facet: pleasantly scented air as a protection against infection and “evil vapors.” Many people carried their favorite scent in a pomander, a decorative yet functional accessory. Pomanders were hollow spheres (often inlaid with jewels and precious metals) in which scented material was carried. It was believed that perfumed air warded off disease, so pomanders were the perfect marriage of form and function for those who could afford them.


  • Alcohol-based perfume was invented in the 14th century, probably for the Queen of Hungary
  • Animal-based ingredients were used, including a liquid produced in the…uh…posterior glands of civit cats; ambergris, found in the digestive system of sperm whales, and castor, made from the scent glands of beavers
  • Liquid perfume was invented in Italy, with Venice in particular becoming famous for perfume production


In the late 1800’s the creation of synthetic perfume ingredients created another shift in the history of perfume (goodbye to the cringe-inducing animal products of the Middle Ages – thank goodness!). Although it still wasn’t inexpensive perfume was certainly more affordable and more available than it had been. As its popularity grew names that we still recognize today became a part of the fragrance lexicon, including Guerlain and Coty, and by the mid-20th century perfume had evolved from a special occasion luxury to a part of our daily routine. Enjoying a favorite scent is a lot more fun when you’re not counting on it to show your status or protect you from a dread illness!


Do you have your own favorite fragrance? Ready to expand your perfume collection?

Check out our collection at Palm Beach Beaute for some expert guidance and ideas!


  • April 17, 2016
  • By admin
  • Category: News

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