Fragrances have been part of human culture since ancient times. The use of perfumes and colognes has been associated with status, beauty, and even religion.
Today, the fragrance industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, with thousands of different fragrances available for purchase.
With so many different terminologies floating around, it can be confusing to understand what scents we prefer and what to look for when shopping for perfumes or colognes online.
In this article, we will break down the most common fragrance terms to give you the knowledge and confidence to make an informed decision when picking your signature scent.
Fragrances are made up of different layers, and each layer has a different scent; these are called notes.
- Top notes: the first notes you smell when you spray a fragrance. Usually light, refreshing, and don’t last very long. Common top notes include citrus, herbs, and lavender notes.
- Middle notes: also known as heart notes, this is the foundation of the entire fragrance. Stronger and more complex than the top notes. Common heart notes include floral scents, spices, and fruit.
- Base notes: the final scents of the fragrance and usually the longest lasting. Typically heavier and adds depth to the fragrance. Common base notes include musk, vanilla, and sandalwood.
Accords are a combination of notes that create a unique scent. Very much like a chef combining ingredients to make a dish.
Each note has a unique scent, and when combined, they create a completely new complex scent. For instance, a floral accord may be made up of notes of rose, jasmine, and gardenia.
Understanding the accords of fragrances, you can better expect the scent of a fragrance.
Think of sillage as the trail of scent that lingers in the air after you apply the fragrance. A fragrance with good sillage will have you turning heads as you walk through the room.
The strength of the sillage is determined by the concentration of the fragrance and the chemical properties of the ingredients. Things like temperature, humidity, and air currents can also affect the strength of the sillage.
Fragrances with a strong sillage are perfect for a special event whereas a fragrance with a softer sillage is better for everyday wear.
Longevity refers to how long a fragrance lasts on your skin. Some fragrances last longer due to their concentration of fragrance oils.
pH levels can also affect the longevity of your fragrance, as high pH levels tend to break down the fragrance faster.
Pro tip: applying fragrance to freshly moisturized skin can increase the longevity of your fragrance, as the moisture locks in the scent for a longer duration.
Concentration is a crucial determining factor when choosing a fragrance.
Concentration refers to the amount of fragrance oil in the formulation. The higher the concentration the more intense and long-lasting the fragrance.
The concentration levels are categorized into the following categories from least to most:
- Eau de cologne: 2-4% fragrance oil
- Eau de toilette: 5-15% fragrance oil
- Eau de parfum: 15-20% fragrance oil
- Parfum: 20-30% fragrance oil
Fragrances can be grouped into olfactory families based on their dominant scents. Common olfactory families include woody, floral, and fruity.
Knowing what olfactory families you prefer can help you narrow down your search to suit your preferences.
- Floral fragrances are composed of floral notes like rose, jasmine, violets, lily, and more.
- Fruity fragrances have a fruity scent with notes like apple, pear, peach, and berries.
- Woody fragrances are made up of woody notes such as sandalwood, cedarwood, and patchouli.
- Oriental fragrances have more of a warm spicy scent with notes of cinnamon and vanilla.
Now that you have read this article, you can take note of these different terms and, be more confident when it comes to knowing your fragrances. Now that you know what to look for, you can find scents that suit your preferences and finalize your signature scent!
Interested on what notes to layer together – check out this article!
Our Favorite Fragrances and Their Fragrance Family Article.