Citrus

Citrus

Also known as hesperidic. One of the oldest of the classic perfume families. Oils of orange, lemon, bergamot, neroli, grapefruit. A fresh bright 'cologne' accord.

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Citrus scents are otherwise known as the Hesperidic Family - from the golden fruits in the Garden of the Hesperides at the end of the world, guarded by the Daughters of the Evening Star. Despite the romantic name, Hesperidics are the most pragmatic of perfumes. A thousand years ago scents were crudely and amateurishly assembled: methods had little in common with the art of perfumery as we know it. Fragrance was made at home, or in those convents and monasteries which were the repositories of learning and arcane skills. Those materials which readily grew in the household garden were most likely to be used: thus herbal concoctions in Northern Europe; citrus in the Mediterranean countries.

Citrus scents are unusual in that they can be made almost entirely from organic natural oils without vast expense. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes and the rest all readily yield oils from their rind. In addition, oils can also be extracted from the leaves, bark and flowers of the tree. The eternal problem with hesperidics is their transient nature: all the component oils are highly volatile and are consequently difficult to prolong on the skin. The citrus-lover must consequently learn to enjoy the ritual of constant re-application and olfactory refreshment!

Every perfumer wants to create the perfect citrus. The challenge lies in the limited ingredients available and in the deployment of their delicacy to the maximum effect. Citrus perfumes often without gender or sexuality; and are the most refreshing, restrained and uncomplicated of all scents to wear. They can also be the most exquisitely sophisticated, revelling in the luxury of extreme simplicity.