The blend of two or more materials to produce a third, new scent that smells very different from the materials experienced on their own. The personality of a fragrance is determined by its basic accord.

A general term that usually refers to metallic and starchy notes. Many modern fragrances do not contain aldehydes in such large doses because they are perceived to be old-fashioned, but a trace presence can give a beautiful sparkling effect. Aldehydes are not limited to starchy-waxy notes, however. Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the aroma of cinnamon. Benzaldehyde smells deliciously of bitter almonds. Vanillin is probably the most commonly used aldehyde material in perfumery, smelling sweet and creamy.

The rock we know as amber is fossilized tree resin. However, the scent amber has NOTHING to do with fossilized tree resin. It is a combination of ingredients like labdanum, vanilla, musks, benzoin, and other resins.When used in fragrance it has a warm, creamy, sweet, almost vanilla-like smell.

Ambergris is the secretion from the intestines of the sperm whale from undigested cuttlefish and squid beak. It is used in perfumery after being aged while floating in the ocean. It has a sweat but earthy smell. Amber and Ambergris are often confused and indeed sometimes they can smell the same. Amber is more likely to be used as a topnote, and ambergris as a basenote.

A general term describing scents of animalic origin, such as some types of musks (musk deer), civet (civet weasel) and castoreum (beaver). With the combined issues of cost, scarcity, and animal rights, synthesized versions animalic materials have been replaced by synthetics, and the term animalic can apply more broadly. Some plants also have animalic characters. Costus oil, distilled from Saussuria costus roots, smells like dirty hair and grease. Cumin oil smells warm and sweaty.

Green camphorous notes present in herbs like lavender, rosemary and sage.

A sweet, heavy, sweet, sticky sap smell. Yes, balsamic vinegar has that same characteristic of the sweet, thick and dark character of the balsamic notes in perfumery. It is common in the dry down of a perfume.

A sap that’s often  mistaken for vanilla, but is sharper and cleaner kind of vanilla, with a gourmand quality to it.

The smell of butter that has been sitting in the fridge too long. The word comes from the Greek word for “butter,” and is used in flavorings as well as fragrances. Obviously, this has to be used in tiny quantities, or the perfume will smell rancid, but used properly it can give a savory effect.

Base/Bottom Notes
The ingredients of least volatility (slowest to evaporate) that give a fragrance its lasting qualities, sometimes referred to as fixatives. These ingredients reveal the depth and strength of the fragrance and can last 24 hours.

The main theme of a perfume, also known as the middle or heart note.

The transition from one note to another in a perfume.

The defining idea of a fragrance. Some fragrances have a lot of character while others do not. Character is the impression that a perfume creates: uplifting like citrus colognes or opulent and seductive like oriental fragrances.

Camphorous (Camphoraceous)
A sharp, cooling scent associated with camphor, which is a a material derived from natural sources like camphor laurel. It can also be made synthetically. Camphorous notes are present in many herbal oils such as eucalyptus and lavender and also in patchouli.

A fragrance family based on the combination of citrus, mossy and ambery and floral notes. Chypre scents typically contrast the warmth of oakmoss, sandalwood and patchouli for example, with fresh notes of bergamot. Chypre fragrances were used as far back as the Roman Empire period.  In 1917 François Coty modernized the chypre idea with Chypre de Coty, a bold and blend of jasmine, green notes, leather and moss.

Citrus Fragrances
These are based on the fresh, tangy aroma of citrus fruit, such as mandarin, lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime etc.

Classic Fragrances
These are fragrances that contain particularly balanced notes that are typical of their family.

Mint, patchouli, and camphorous notes in perfumes can literally create a cooling sensations, but other scents may be defined as cool because of their association with freshness and marine air.

Large doses of vanillic, musky and milky notes make a fragrance definable as creamy. An opposite description to creamy would be a dry and sharp sensation, such as that produced by amber in some scents.

Dry down
The final, ultimate phase of a fragrance, the base notes that emerge emerge once the initial burst of fragrance has subsided. It usually takes as much as 30 minutes for the dry down to become apparent, but lighter fragrance concentrations may reach their dry down period much sooner.

Eau de Cologne
French for “Water from Cologne”, a citrusy, light perfume with a typical concentration of about 2-5% aromatic compounds

Eau Fraiche
French for “fresh water” which contains just 1 to 3% concentration of essential oils

eau de cologne – literally translates to “water of cologne,” a stronger concentration of perfume than eau fraiche, but still weak at 2 to 5% in an alcohol base. Aftershave splash products are technically eau de colognes, with a comparatively similar concentration of fragrance.

eau de parfum – literally translates to “water of perfume” or “perfumed water,” and has 8-15% concentration of perfume oil with an alcohol base

eau de toilette – perfume solution with a 4-10% aromatic compound in an oil, water and alcohol base, more than cologne and less that EDP. This concentration is usually affordably priced, but will only last for around 3 hours, unless you’re wearing something like Joop! Homme which is quite potent for an EDT.

Fatty, Unctuous
An impression often found in classic fragrances referring to the thickness, heft and richness of a scent. The French term for this quality,  often imparted by natural raw materials, especially floral essences, is gras (fat).  A classic scent that could be described this way is Jean Patou’s Joy, a quintessentially fatty fragrance due to its large proportions of rose and jasmine.

French for ‘bottle’, and is used as a more refined description for the fragrance container.

A term applied to a fragrance has a floral element or character. Sometimes it means an abstract floral sensation that does not refer to any one flower in particular.

French for fern, and is a fragrance family inspired by Houbigant Fougère Royale (1882,) the first fragrance to combine natural materials with synthetics. Perfumer Paul Parquet added the synthetic material coumarin to the classical eau de cologne accord of citrus, lavender, spice, geranium, amber, musk and woody notes. As ferns are scentless, this is an abstract perfume -the first one.

Fresh Fragrances
These are the lightest and brightest scents in the fragrance family, often comprising aquatic and crisp notes.

Headspace technology
A perfumers’ method used to analyze the natural scent of a living flower with computers and duplicate that aroma in a lab. The bloom is encapsulated within a contained space and its scent captured and transposed to fragrance additives.

Heart Notes
Sometimes called Middle Notes, these notes define the personality of each fragrance, and are usually floral, as most fruity notes are too light for this layer. The heart notes are the body of the perfume composition and reveal its family classification and character.

This is the practice of wearing different levels of fragrance all at once to prolong its life, for example: using shower gel, body lotion, deodorant and EDT from the same fragrance range.

Middle Notes
See Heart Notes

Miniature perfume bottle

One of three distinct phases of the evaporative profile of a fragrance. It refers to the ingredients or combinations of ingredients that make up a fragrance. For example, a fragrance may be described as having citrus top notes or simply a top note of lavender.

Perfume oil
Perfume containing between 15 to 30% perfume oil in an oil based compound. Perfume oils tend to have the most concentrated amounts of perfume and therefore tend to be stronger and last longer, depending on the materials to some extent.

French word for perfume, sometimes referred to as extract or extrait – containing between 15-25% aromatic compounds in an alcohol base.

Pulse points
Folds in the crook of your elbow and back of knees, behind the ears, ankles, wrists, neck and cleavage where blood vessels are closest to the skin, giving off heat and acting like small fragrance scent diffusers.

Signature scent
A perfect fragrance match, one that you love and smells great on you because it reacts well with your body chemistry

Bottle with atomizer

Bottle without atomizer, can pour

Soie de Parfum
A stronger concentration of perfume than eau de parfum at 15-18% perfume oil in an alcohol base

A promotional fragrance product, may not look exactly like the original, but it’s the same perfume or cologne inside

A brand new product that is delivered without a box

A perfume’s capability of flowing from one phase to another in a harmonious fashion

Top Note
The first scent impression of a perfume, the ingredients that first becomes apparent after application to the skin. Top notes contain volatile fragrance ingredients that last the least amount of time, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.