Fragrance Glossary

Accord – In addition to its notes, you will also find fragrances described as containing certain accords. This refers to a range of characteristic notes, across many layers, that have many sources in common with each other. For example, a ‘green accord’ (with notes from leaves and grasses), or a ‘white flower accord’. This term is also used to describe incomplete fragrances that form the fully rounded whole of the finished scent.

Aldehydes – A traditional fragrance family, based on synthetic powders that are formulated to replicate natural scents (such as Lanvin Arpege). Aldehydes are not so popular with perfumers today, as capturing natural aromas via headspace technology is considered of greater value and impact.

Base Notes – Base Notes are sometimes called the bottom notes, and are the heaviest and most lingering notes in the fragrance pyramid. These notes shape the ultimate dry down of the fragrance and will determine its key character.

Body Spray – A body spray is a fragranced aerosol spray for use all over the body.

Chypre – This is actually the French word for Cyprus, but this fragrance family of mossy-woody scents was named after an early example of this group, rather than the picturesque holiday isle. Chypre scents typically contrast the warmth of oakmoss, sandalwood and patchouli for example, with fresh notes of bergamot. François Coty introduced Chypre in 1917, and this family is named after this scent.

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.

Dry Down – This is the ultimate scent that emerges 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 than this.

Eau de Cologne – With a very weak concentration of fragrance, around 3-5%, Eau de Cologne is now a less popular fragrance format. Aftershave splash products are technically eau de colognes, with a comparatively similar concentration of fragrance.

Eau de Parfum – Otherwise known as EDP, this contains a fragrance concentration of around 10-20%. This concentration is formulated for a richer, more enduring scent than an EDT, at a more accessible price than the Parfum.

Eau de Toilette – Otherwise known as EDT, this refers to a fragrance concentration of around 15% and is the most popular strength of fragrance available. This concentration is usually affordably priced, but will only last for around 3 hours.

Eau Fraiche – This is a relatively new fragrance concentration, and sometimes called a ‘perfumed mist’. Its fragrance content is relatively low compared to EDT, but is usually greater than that of eau de cologne. However, Eau Fraiche is typically alcohol-free and specially formulated for use in the summer, when alcohol based fragrances can cause an allergic reaction in sunlight. (see also Spritz)

Flacon – In French, this means ‘bottle’, and is used as a more refined description for the fragrance container.

Floral Fragrances – As the name suggests, these fragrances are based on flower notes, of which there are literally hundreds. Some floral fragrances are based on just one note, such as lily of the valley, or lavender. Others are complex blends of floral notes, fruits and woods.

Fougere – The Aromatic Fougere fragrance family refers to scents based on lavender, citrus, spicy, ambery and woody notes. The family is named after Fougere Royale, a fragrance that was launched in 1882 by Houbigant.

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

Headspace Technology – This is a new and very advanced technique of gathering fragrance from living flowers. The bloom is encapsulated within a contained space and its scent captured and transposed to fragrance additives.

Heart Notes – These are sometimes called Middle Notes, and define the personality of each fragrance, and are usually floral, as most fruity notes are too light for this layer.

Layering – 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.

Notes – These refer to the ingredients or combinations of ingredients that make up a fragrance. For example, a fragrance may be described as having ‘floral top notes’ or simply ‘a top note of lavender’.

Oriental Fragrances – These are characterised by rich, intense notes, often based on resins such as benzoin, opopanax, or tonka bean.

Parfum – Sometimes called Parfum extract, this is the highest concentration of pure fragrance available and will be between 18% and 40% in concentration. It is a potent blend of essential oils, pure fragrance and alcohol.

Pour – This refers to a fragrance format which is tipped out of the bottle rather than sprayed, as in an edt. Pour fragrances are rather more awkward, less portable and therefore not as popular as sprays, but usually have an ultimate dry down of greater intensity than spray variants.

Rich fragrances – These sport warmer notes than other examples in any one fragrance family.

Soliflore – This is also known as a ‘single-note’ fragrance. A soliflore is a particular type of scent that focuses on the aroma of one (usually floral) ingredient. It will contain other notes, chosen for their ability to compliment the signature, but in the final compound most will be recessive compared to the focal ingredient.

Spritz – This is what you do with the light Eau Fraiche fragrances. It refers to the practice of applying your fragrance from top to toe for all over fragrant appeal.

Top Notes – These are sometimes called Head Notes, and are the very first ingredients you smell once your fragrance has been applied. Light, bright and especially fruity notes are particularly common at this level of fragrance, but they soon evaporate and give way to the Heart Notes.

Transparent/Translucent Scent – Those with light, bright notes and a clean, fresh sparkle are called transparent scents. Top notes are often citrus-based, while heart notes may include grasses or marine aromas. They are less enduring on the skin compared to richer scents, but proved the most popular fragrances of the 1990s.