How to speak about fragrances like a pro

Published June 19, 2020

The power of scent is that we associate scents with something – a cherished memory, a beloved person, a far away place from a long time ago. We all have our personal connections, but how do we talk about fragrances and describe scents on its own terms?

It’s time to improve your perfume vocabulary! From absolute to woody, keep reading for the scent terms every and perfume freak and self proclaimed expert should know!

A – Absolute

Aromatic material which is extracted from plants & flowers. Highly concentrated perfume ingredient obtained by alcohol extraction of the concrete.

B – Benzoin

A balsamic resin extracted from different types of styrax tree. Very often used in the creation of incense. Benzoin is very common in vanilla and oriental fragrances.

C – Concrete

Waxy mass obtained by solvent extraction of fresh plants, flowers and leaves.

D – Dry down

The final phase of a fragrance and it’s personality. It is the stage where the base notes are the most pronounced.

E – Enfleurage

An old technique using odorless fats that are solid at room temperature to capture the fragrant compounds exuded by plants. The procedure can be cold or hot enfleurage.

F – Fougère

The French word for “fern.” Fougère fragrances centre on notes like oakmoss, lavender, coumarin & woods.

G – Gourmand

Sweet smelling fragrances with dominating notes such as: vanilla, chocolate, caramel or candy.

27 87

Coconut, Saltwater, Vanilla
H – Hedione

Perfume note that in nature exists in jasmine and tea. The chemical is known as methyl dihydrojasmonate and can be described as a “transparent jasmine” with a luminous, green, floral scent.

I – Ionones

Aroma compounds found in a variety of essential oils. Part of a group of compounds known as Rose ketones, which also include damascones & damascenones.

J – Juice

Term to describe perfume, usually when the liquid is in bulk form.

K – Karo-Karounde

Exotic essence, originally from Africa. In its natural form is considered to be an aphrodisiac. It produces an essential oil that smells very similar to jasmine but more herbal.

L – Leathery

Term used to describe a strong smell that is used in the process of tanning leather. The leathery notes have a smoky and animalistic scent.

M – Musk

Secretion from musk deer. Nowadays synthetic musks know as nitromusks are used. Used as a fixative.

N – Neroli

Produced mostly in Morocco and Tunisia, Neroli is an essential oil coming from the orange blossoms. Neroli oil has very beautiful aromatic fragrance that leans a bit towards fresh and green.

O – Ozonic

Do you know how the air smells after rain or summer thunderstorm? “Ozonic” or many times called “aquatic” fragrances have very fresh, watery smell giving the feeling of lightness. It is perfect for those who love the cool scents of the ocean.

P – Powdery

Powdery perfumes have usually light, floral and “baby powder” smell. Most usual powder notes are iris/orris, violet and vanilla.


Orange Blossom, Powder, Vanilla
R – Reformulation

Under new regulations, ingredients considered to be allergenic are removed and therefore the perfume is reformulated. Other reasons for reformulation include cost of ingredients or limited supply, extinction or animal cruelty.

S – Sillage

Sillage is the projection, or the bloom of a fragrance," by Sophie Labbé, the nose behind scents Calvin Klein Beauty and Bvlgari Jasmin Noir. French word pronounced “see-Yahzh” is the olfactory impression meaning the scent trail we leave behind us.

T – Top Notes

Also called “opening notes” or “head notes”, they are the first notes of a perfume. They’re not very long lasting.

U – Undertones

Very important part of scent character - it is simply put subtle attribute of the fragrance background.

V – Vetiver

In French - vetyver - is a grass from the Poaceae family of plants, which also includes lemongrass and citronella. Very popular in niche perfumery and masculine fragrances.


Grapefruit, Vetiver, Black tea


7753 EdP

Histoires de Parfums

Tuberose, Vetiver, Ivy
W – Woody

Term used to name warm fragrance notes that come from wood. It can be anything from freshly cut wood or dry wood that gives a real depth to the scents. Woody perfumes include warm notes like patchouli and sandalwood.

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