INTENSE – in Perfumery And Room Fragrance

It has always been a tradition in perfumery to offer various versions of a fragrance based on the perfume oil concentration. On the other hand, in room fragrance and skin care, the concept of different versions of the same product based on a variation of the perfume oil concentration does not exist and is totally alien.

These are the typical concentrations offered for sale in perfumes:

eau de cologne

eau de toilette

eau de parfum

The Influence of the Middle East

We see the increasing influence of the Middle East in Western Perfumery as one of the driving forces behind a desire for more intense fragrance.

Consequently, a variety of brands have launched an ‘intense’ or ‘essence’ version of a successful perfume for men and women. In most cases these are actually changed fragrance accords whereas in others it is simply a more intense version.

These new perfumes have a variety of names:




… and many other variations.

The question remains, whether ‘noir’ should be included in this list ?

All of the these have in common the concept of increased perfume strength and longevity on skin.

Similarly, this new intensity is also translated into different colours, ingredients and an altered, more suitable choice of words or terminology.

The next phase will see the ‘intense’ phenomenon appear in niche / boutique perfumery.

Thinking back through the 1980s, notes were intense in perfumery with “Opium” (Christian Dior) coming to mind. One could not miss a lady wearing Opium.

What sets the new ‘intense’ fragrance apart from their 80s cousins (Opium, Poison, …) is their complexity and richness, as we outline below.

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Intense Fragrances For Women

The fragrance market for women has seen a number of ‘intense’ fragrances being introduced over the past two years. We present and review a curated selection of them here:

“Georgio Armani Si Eau De Parfum Intense” is a richer flanker of the original chypre fragrance by using strong notes of cassis and blackcurrent in the top combined with a more intense base of patchouli, vanilla and woods.

“Fatale Intense Agent Provocateur for women” is spicy floriental with an unusual top note of  licorice and chili pepper.

“Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme Intense” is a more intensive version of the original fragrance.

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“La Vie Est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Intense” by Lancome is a more dense and deeper version of its best-selling fragrance with tuberose and gourmand notes.

“Dolce & Gabbana The One Essence” is being presented as the highest concentration of the original accord.

“L’Eau Kenzo Intense Pour Femme” promises to be an unusual ‘intense’ fragrance as it attempts to marry the translucency of the original “L’Eau par Kenzo” with a more sensual note. The opening is juicy red apple accord, around a floral heart of lily and peony, and a base of patchouli.

Jean Paul Gaultier launched a new version of his ‘classique’ signature perfume from 1993 in the form of “Classique Intense”, consisting of 40% of the original fragrance and 60% new components giving a modern ‘twist’ to its powdery-floral character.

 “Roberto Cavalli Essenza” (Roberto Cavalli) is a new intense edition of his original eau de parfum. The top note has an unusual tonality of sweet almond essence. The heart of orange blossom leads into a base with vanilla absolute.

In “Boss Nuit Pour Femme Intense” very little differs from the original with only note gaining in intensity.

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Intense Fragrances for Men

The number of men’s ‘intense’ fragrances introduced in recent years has exploded ! Here we see the same pattern, as in the women’s fragrances, of altered or intensified accords being used.

Is there a reason behind the plethora of intense versions for men ?

We believe the driving force behind this trend for men is their demand for more powerful and longer-lasting scents. Increasingly, this ‘performance’ aspect of a fragrance becomes a buying criteria and a key success factor in men’s perfumery.

It also allows the brand owners to charge a premium, in an attempt to reduce the traditional price difference between female and male perfumes (with women being the more expensive).

Nowadays, men also seem to be prepared to pay more for increased ‘performance’. This is nothing new for women who traditionally aspired to and happily paid more to treat themselves to an ‘eau de parfum’. However, the term ‘intense’ appears to be a term that more clearly communicates the benefit for men.

The ‘intense’ trend is not just confined to richer or heavier men’s fragrances, but it also applies to ‘fresh’ notes. Here, the terms ‘sport’ or ‘extreme’ seem to be appropriate and notes such as oakmoss, amber and woods are being used to intensify such fresh fragrances.

For example, “L`Eau Kenzo Intense Pour Homme” promises a fresh aquatic fragrance with top notes of Japanese yuzu citrus and lime, a heart of sea water and black basil, with a fond of cedar and vetiver.

In “Gentlemen Only Intense” (by Givenchy) a touch of smooth leather, together with spices and an amber fond are added to the original, elegantly woody fragrance (cedar, vetiver, patchouli).

Victor & Rolf “Spicebomb Extreme” is an explosive presentation in the form of hand grenade and an accord that opens with a unique combination of aromatic lavender and hot spices (caraway, black pepper), leading into fond of tobacco and vanilla.

“JOOP! Home Extreme” (by JOOP!) is an oriental spicy fragrance based on an unexpected blend of velvety black cocoa, spices, luxurious woods (patchouli) and a secret ingredient, the ‘hot skin accord’.

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Hugo Boss launched “Boss Bottled Intense”, a refined interpretation of the original Boss Bottled, with a base of wood (sandalwood, cedar, vetiver) and powdery vanilla, a heart of spices (close, cinnamon) and a top of apple. It is less sweet than the original.

“Au Masculin Eau de Parfum Intense” (Lolita Lempika) is an accord dominated by star anise, iris and myrrh, with a top note of bergamot and woody fond of vetiver and oud (agarwood).

YSL presents with “La Nuit de L’Homme L’Intense” a more oriental twist of the original. The key ingredients are iris, violet, sage, patchouli and vanilla.

In “Acqua di Gio Profumo” by Armani, the term ‘profumo’ is used to highlight an ‘intense’ version of the original. The concept of the fragrance is a fusion of sea waves on black rocks. The composition’s heart is aromatic (geranium, sage, rosemary) with a fresh aquatic opening (incl. bergamot). The base is woody (patchouli, incense) and spicy,

With “Eau Sauvage Parfum” Christian Dior relaunched its classic with a stronger concentration ! The classic citrus aromatic composition was modernised: a smoky myrrh tonality, balsamic woods, dry vetiver and a bergamot top note.

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Intense And Yet Unisex ?

“Hervé Gambs Cologne Intense” is a new collection of 3 intense eau de colognes, for women and men, and the question remains whether these actually qualify as ‘intense’ perfumery.

There is no question, that “Intense Cafe” by Montale qualifies with it coffee and rose accord. It is an oriental vanilla fragrance for women and men.

“Jo Malone” offers an entire collection of “Cologne Intense” for men and women which all share the increased strength and longevity expected of these fragrances. For example, “Incense & Cedrat Limited Edition” by Jo Malone, is an oriental spicy fragrance with top notes of lemon and pepper, a heart of resin and incense on a more traditional fond of benzoin, olibanum and labdanum. This is definitely an accord inspired by the Middle East !

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INTENSE In Room Fragrance ?

Can this ‘intense’ fragrance trend be found in room fragrance ?

We think so, but, we believe one has to distinguish between this ‘trend’ and two of the ‘key success factors’ in home fragrance that have been recognised for a while now:

fragrance intensity (or strength, power, etc.) ,


longevity of the perfume (or long-lasting, enduring, etc.)

Let’s start with a quick outline of what we mean with this.

Strength Or Quality ?

It does not matter whether it is a scented candle, reed diffuser, electric aroma diffuser or perfume room spray, consumers are disappointed if the scent cannot permeate their homes.

Some companies have perfectly refined how to promise an intense room fragrance. For example, in some glass jar candle ranges they will always insure an intense fragrance experience when their fragrance jars are opened in a store. The scent will literally jump out of the glass and present itself with an easily identifiable note. Less emphasis is placed on the fragrance performance when the candle is burning at home. It is the promise of an intense fragrance which is the focus.

Typically, to achieve this promise, strong fruity, citrusy or spicy ingredients are being used. This may not be to everybody liking, especially as these notes may sometimes come across as ‘chemical’, ‘harsh’ or ‘sharp’.

This is why the ‘luxury scented candle’ market was born, when an increasing number of customers tired of this approach and sought an alternative. This customer base appreciated highly fragrant candles infused with high quality or natural perfume oils.  A true luxury scented candle presents a refined balance between the fragrance quality and intensity from the cold wax and when the candle is burning to release its perfume.

Long-lasting Or Strong ?

A ‘long-lasting’ fragrance is expected from a reed diffuser ! The same expectation applies to a wardrobe sachet, perfume room spray but also a supermarket air freshener.

Yet, there is unfortunately a trade-off between longevity and power: a certain amount of perfume oil can either evaporate quickly for a strong fragrance in the room or slowly for a long-lasting experience.

Simply speaking, the only solution is to put more perfume into the bottle or wax ! However, this increases the cost of a product, which suppliers of supermarket air fresheners cannot afford.

Another reason why the ‘luxury scented candle’ market was born and why ‘luxury reed diffusers’ are seeing continued popularity, is not surprisingly they have a higher concentration of Perfume in their make-up.

This is why we coined the phrase ‘eau de parfum’ reed diffusers here at PAIRFUM or should we call them ‘intense’ ?

The Intense Trend In Room Fragrance

In our view, the ‘intense’ trend manifests itself in room perfumes and skin care in a fashion more attuned to these two markets, through the use of perfume ‘ingredients’, ‘dosage’ and the product ‘size’.


We actually believe that the ‘intense’ trend we currently see in couture perfumery actually started in home fragrance !

‘Gourmand’ notes started in luxury home fragrance quite a while before they became popular in women’s & men’s perfumery.  Next came ‘oud’ accords and tonalities of ‘myrrh’ or ‘frankinsence’ in room perfumery.

But the fine fragrances houses move fast and with the ingredients used for the ‘intense’ trend, they have overtaken room perfumes. Many of the notes we mention above in women’s and men’s perfumery have not yet been seen in candles or diffusers.

Room perfumes are, however, beginning to see an increasing popularity for ‘complex spices’, ‘balsamic woods’ and ‘richer fruits’.

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Fragrant candles with a perfume dosage higher than 12% have been tried many times and typically fail because too much solvent is required to prevent fragrance from oiling out of the wax (it also softens the wax too much). Additionally, the risk that the entire candle may catch fire increases.

PAIRFUM’s Flower Wax Candle operates at the limit of what is currently feasible through the use of a natural additive that keeps a high amount of perfume inside the natural wax without the use of solvents.

Another examples is PAIRFUM’s Snow Crystal Wax, which prevents the oiling out of perfume through its crystalline structure, i.e. it acts like a sponge keeping the perfume oil droplets in its cavities only to be released when the wax becomes fluid.

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Reed diffusers that are more intense and thereby suitable for bigger or large rooms are a more recent phenomenon. As an example, PAIRFUM offers the reed diffusers Bell Large and Tower Large.

Oversized multi-wick candles and large twin-wick candles are another form of an ‘intensified’ candle presence in the home.

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“Enjoy” The New Intensity In Perfumery & Room Fragrance !

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