Keep these in mind and you’ll be a perfume pro in no time.
So, you think you know your notes? But, do you know your colognes from your parfums, or your gourmand from your fougère? Well, if you didn’t already, you will now. We’ve put together the ultimate fragrance glossary so that you can be the perfume expert that you truly are.
Accord – There’s a reason that this word sounds similar to the term ‘chord’. In music, to create a chord, you combine several notes to make a unique sound. In perfume, you merge various notes or ingredients that blend together to create a distinct fragrance, or, an accord.
Adlehydes – Adlehydes are aromatic chemicals that inject a sense of sparkle to fragrances. They even sometimes provide their own scent, depending on what type they are. Adlehydes C-12 (the C stands for carbon) and less provide a sparkling sense, whereas Adlehydes C-14 and above create a fruity note.
Balsams – These are mostly feature in oriental scents. They’re warm, ambery notes like Tonka bean and benzoin.
Base note – The base notes hold the heaviest ingredients within a fragrance. They help to hold and enhance the other ingredients and make them last longer once the fragrance has been sprayed.
Chypre – Chypre is the word used for the Greek island of Cyprus in the Fresh language. It’s signature accord holds citrus notes combined with contrasting mossy notes, featuring ingredients such as oakmoss.
Cologne – Colognes are typically men’s fragrances and defines one of the concentration categories. They have a concentration level of around 2-5% perfume oil, which means they’re not overly powering scents.
Concentration – The concentration level of a fragrance categorises it as well as determining how strong it will be. There are four main concentration categories, Eau de Parfum, which has a concentration level of around 10-30%; Eau de Toilettes, which hold a concentration of around 5-20%; Eau de Colognes, which have a concentration level of around 2-5% and finally, Extract, which has around 20-40% concentration.
Drydown – A drydown is the final stages of the scent wearing. As the heart notes blend into the base notes and begin to linger, that is the drydown. The time that a fragrance takes to reach the drydown and the way that the drydown smells is completely unique to every individual. This is why perfumes may smell different on you compared to your friend.
Eau de Parfum – Another one of these concentration categories that we’ve mentioned previously. Eau de Parfums have a concentration level of around 10-30%, which means their impact will be quite strong and the scent should last.
Eau de Toilette – Eau de Toilette’s have a concentration level of 5-20%, which places them in the middle of Colognes and Eau de Parfums.
Fougère – Fougère, meaning ‘fern-like’ in the French language, is one of the main fragrance families. Fougère fragrances are inspired woodland scents and feature notes like lavender, vetiver, Tonka bean and geranium. They tend to be, although aren’t limited to, men’s fragrances.
Gourmand – A gourmand is a popular type of fragrance which smells sweet. Think notes of honey, vanilla, chocolate or various berries.
Musk – Musk is used to enhance the scent-life of fragrances and to form a sensual feel. Perfumers use a number of fabricated musks in perfume that come in forms of dark musks to fresh ones.
Note – A note is simply like an ingredient to the fragrance. The notes in a scent are tiered, top, heart or middle, and base notes. These notes play different roles to the fragrance, but together they create a unique smell.
Oriental – Oriental is one of the main fragrance families, which features warm, spicy notes. Ingredients such as amber, vanilla, Tonka bean, and benzoin are common in oriental scents.
Oud – Oud is made from the resin of the Aquilaria tree, which emits when it is stormed by pathogens. It has an earthy, woody, tobacco quality that is very complex and quite dark.
Sillage – This refers to the trail left behind from a perfume or aftershave. You know when you walk past someone and get a refreshing whiff of the fragrance they’re wearing? That’s sillage.