A Definitive Information to Fragrance Terminology

A Definitive Information to Fragrance Terminology
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Perfume is the primary impression you quietly convey, used to precise your ever-changing moods, contrasting personas, and cherished reminiscences. Does the invigorating burst of punchy citrus immediately revive your soul? Or do the depths of damp woods and zingy spices awaken your senses? Welcome to ELLE Noteworthies, a definitive information to the best fragrances we’ve encountered this 12 months, poised to accompany you as you create new scent reminiscences.

Scent is a language, an invisible lexicon that introduces you to somebody even within the absence of phrases. Like a sommelier describing a wine’s taste, translating a perfume’s nuances into phrases is as poetic as it’s irritating. A perusal of fragrances at a retailer or an infinite scroll on a web site is an awesome dump of meaningless terminology and descriptions to somebody who merely desires to re-up the emptied vanilla-scent eau de parfum they had been gifted on their birthday final 12 months. An Eau de—what? Sure, the excellence between an EDP and eau de toilette impacts the scent expertise. And what the hell even is an OUD? Is olfactory the place fragrances are made?

Fragrances are divided into teams primarily based on the a number of components that make up their scent composition (do you favor recent or musk scents?). In honor of our definitive listing of the best perfumes of 2023, we polled beauty chemists and ELLE Noteworthies specialists Ginger King and Esther Olu, in addition to Roja Parfums grasp perfumer Roja Dove to breakdown the expansive world of perfume terminology. Consult with this information that can assist you discover—and describe—your latest pickups.


Taking cues from music, an accord in perfume is a mix of various components morphed collectively to create a brand new, extra complicated scent.


Consider a visit to a spa and the heavenly aroma that greets you. Fragrant scents sometimes include herbaceous notes like mint, rosemary, sage, lavender, and different recent plant-like components that lean recent and spicy.


Fragrances within the amber household odor comforting and heat with hints of spice and sweetness. Amber provides depth to a scent, because of sensual notes within the household, like tonka bean (spicy) and vanilla (candy).

Base Notes

Of the three perfume layers, the bottom is the place you’ll discover the heartier, extra strong notes. “After the preliminary freshness, a perfume will then dry down into the bottom notes (woods, mosses, and so on.), and these are the components which are celebrated for his or her longevity and the power to carry on to the pores and skin,” Dove explains. King says that the bottom notes are the “major persona of the perfume,” because the stronger the bottom, the longer the scent will linger.

What makes for a distinct expertise between hotter climate and colder climate fragrance notes?

Seasonal perfumes exist for a purpose. You will possible put on hotter, muskier scents within the fall or winter, and vibrant, glowing scents within the spring and summer time. “When the solar is out, so are we and with the solar comes warmth. Citrus notes will carry welcome refreshment and can make it easier to really feel energized. Within the autumn or winter, understandably, we transfer indoors, and this offers us a possibility to benefit from the heat of spices mixed with woods or to hunt the extra sensual pleasures that smooth vanilla and musk will give us,” Dove notes.

Blind Purchase

If you buy a perfume primarily based on its scent description or per an influencer’s advice, with out smelling it in particular person.


A fancy household of earthy tones marked by a citrus opening (bergamot) and deeper woods on the base like oakmoss and patchouli.


Focus is what helps the longevity of a perfume. Relying on how intense you need to odor, concentrations are damaged into 4 classes, every outlined by a sure proportion. The upper the focus, the stronger the scent. Eau de Cologne is the bottom focus and doesn’t final too lengthy; Eau de Toilette is average; Eau de Parfum is excessive; Extrait is probably the most potent.

Philosophy Philosophy Wonderful Grace Eau de Parfum

Philosophy Amazing Grace Eau de Parfum

Philosophy Philosophy Wonderful Grace Eau de Parfum


Creamy scents seek advice from formulation made from decadent notes like vanilla, cashmere, and coconut, with hints of musk.


The method of extracting important oils from plant supplies.

Dry Down

After spritzing the perfume in your pores and skin, the dry down is the ultimate section that permits the bottom notes to completely kind. In the course of the dry-down section is the place you identify whether or not a scent smells good on you, as your pores and skin’s pure oils and chemistry intensify sure notes.

Eau de Parfum

Eau de Parfums are the commonest kind of perfume in shops and have the next focus that permits for longer put on. “EDP is Eau De Parfum, which consists of 15 to twenty p.c of the perfume oil, so it’s stronger and may final six to eight hours,” King explains. Dove provides that EDPs give customers “an excellent impression of a perfume as a result of they’re way more refreshing (as a result of elevated prime notes). Roughly 30 p.c of an EDP’s focus is comprised of the bottom notes.”

Eau de Toilette

Alternatively, EDTs have a decrease focus vary of about 5 p.c to fifteen p.c and sometimes don’t final so long as an EDP or Extrait.

How does a formulator transcribe phrases into fragrance?

“For private care merchandise, other than the scientific and technical facets, transcribing phrases and inspirations largely contains creativity,” Olu shares. The creativity lies in a perfumers potential to color an olfactory picture from first spray to dry-down. “Fragrance is like viewing an ideal piece of artwork. You need to give in to it and let your feelings take over. Like artwork, the satan is within the particulars,” Dove provides.


An Extrait is probably the most intense perfume kind, containing about 15 to 45 p.c.


Nearly each fragrance comprises floral components. Floral notes lend a candy throw to most perfumes, particularly generally used florals like rose and jasmine.


The recent household emits an aroma that’s sometimes related to citrus, aquatic, and inexperienced components. “Hesperidic components make a creation odor recent. These are situated within the prime of a perfume, and embrace lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, and eucalyptus,” Dove provides.

Kilian Paris Kilian Paris Angels’ Share Perfume at Nordstrom

Kilian Paris Angels' Share Fragrance at Nordstrom

Kilian Paris Kilian Paris Angels’ Share Perfume at Nordstrom


When you’ve ever smelled a perfume you needed to eat, it was possible from the gourmand household. On this set, notes like vanilla, chocolate, and caramel reign supreme.

Coronary heart Notes

The center stage of the perfume pyramid helps to form the persona of the fragrance. The place prime notes are fleeting, the guts sticks round for somewhat longer and settles into the pores and skin earlier than the bottom notes take over.


“Musks add smooth sensuality to a perfume and are sometimes used within the base word to make scents last more. Musk smells heat, wealthy, and barely candy – it’s complicated and alluring,” Rove explains.

Area of interest

Area of interest fragrances are often custom-made or produced in smaller portions, versus the industrial or “designer” perfumes you discover in malls.


The title of the composer of a fragrance.


The components that make up a perfume.


Something referring to the sense of odor.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Temper Eau de Parfum in None at Nordstrom, Measurement 1.1 Oz

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood Eau de Parfum in None at Nordstrom, Size 1.1 Oz

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Temper Eau de Parfum in None at Nordstrom, Measurement 1.1 Oz


Oud or Oudh is an especially potent oil extracted from the bark of wooden “harvested from the guts of the knotted Aquilaria tree,” Dove provides. For the reason that oil is tremendous aromatic, it’s generally used alone or in perfumes as the bottom word.


Paying homage to child powder, powdery notes are very smooth, candy, and romantic. Frequent notes discovered on this household are vanilla, iris, rose, violet, and musk.

Pulse Factors

The areas throughout your physique the place you spritz your fragrance to increase its longevity. “Put on it in your wrists, elbows, and collarbone. Don’t rub it in, simply let the fragrance unravel and work its magic in your particular person canvas,” Dove says.

How do you make your scent last more?

Layering is one of the best ways to make your scent keep all through the day. “A physique lotion or cream with the identical perfume as your fragrance is an effective way to make the odor last more. All the time apply your perfume first after which lock it in with the lotion or cream afterwards. Not solely does this enhance the lasting high quality however the alcohol within the perfume doesn’t break down the cream so the moisturizing issue is maximized,” Dove advises.


Sillage is the path left behind by your perfume. The stronger the scent, the extra lasting impression it can have as soon as you allow a room. Dove provides that sillage can be what creates scent reminiscences. “Sit with somebody and breathe of their perfume, and so they will provide you with one of the lovely presents of all—the reward of reminiscence. You might not have seen somebody for years however with one breath of scent, reminiscences can come flooding again,” she notes.

Eau Nabati Eau de parfum 75ml

Eau Nabati Eau de parfum 75ml

Eau Nabati Eau de parfum 75ml

Prime Notes

The primary impression you get from a perfume is from the highest notes. Because the introductory notes, the highest layer of a perfume leans extra brilliant and light-weight, courtesy of citrus or recent components, after which evaporates.


An earthy aroma that smells like freshly minimize wooden or grassy. Notes like cedarwood and sandalwood are categorised as woody.

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Magnificence Commerce Editor

Nerisha is the sweetness commerce editor at ELLE.com, protecting all issues magnificence (and style and music). She has a penchant for sneakers and nude lip glosses, and spends manner an excessive amount of time re-watching 90s sitcoms.