The Glossary: 16 Key Fragrance Terms Everyone Should Know
Published By: MOODEAUX
If you're just dipping your toes into the aromatic world of scents, don't worry – it's not as intimidating as it may seem. Fragrances can be as fascinating as they are complex, and understanding some introductory terms will help you navigate this olfactive terrain with ease. Without further ado, let's dive right in with 16 terms you should know!
In perfumery, "concentration" refers to the amount of aromatic compounds, or perfume oils, present in a fragrance. The higher the concentration, typically the stronger and longer-lasting the scent. We say typically, because ultimately, a perfume's notes and accords have the greatest influence on its intensity and longevity.
Parfum (or Extrait de Parfum), Eau de Parfum (EDP), Eau de Toilette (EDT), Eau de Cologne (EDC): These terms denote the concentration of fragrance oils in a perfume, with Parfum being the highest concentration and EDC the lowest.
Parfum or Extrait de Parfum: This is the highest concentration, with 20-30% or more fragrance oil. Parfums are the most intense and long-lasting, often lasting all day and sometimes well into the next day. EDITOR'S NOTE — MOODEAUX's fragrances include concentrations at this level, although we label our alcohol-based scents in our IntenScenual™ Collection as Eau de Parfum (EDP).
Eau de Parfum (EDP): EDP has a higher concentration than EDT, usually around 15-20% fragrance oil. It is more potent and lasts longer, often lasting 5-8 hours.
Eau de Toilette (EDT): EDT contains a higher concentration than EDC, ranging from 5-15% fragrance oil. It's more intense and longer-lasting, typically lasting around 3-4 hours.
Eau de Cologne (EDC): This has the lowest concentration, usually around 2-4% fragrance oil. EDCs are light and don't last as long, typically lasting a couple of hours.
"Notes" are the individual ingredients or scents that you can identify within a fragrance. They can be anything from roses and lavender (found in Worthy) to leather and moss (found in PunkStar).
Top Notes, Middle Notes (or Heart Notes), Base Notes: Fragrances are composed of these layers. Top notes are the initial scent, middle notes develop after the top notes fade, and base notes are the foundation, lasting longest.
Top Notes: Imagine a fragrance as a story. Top notes are the opening lines – they hit you first and are like the "Hello!" of your perfume. They're fresh and fleeting, often citrusy or light florals, leaving a memorable first impression.
Middle (Heart Notes): These are the juicy chapters of the fragrance tale. Heart notes emerge once the top notes have their moment and they stick around for a while. This is where you'll find the true character of the scent, like rich florals, spices, or fruits.
Base Notes: The grand finale! Base notes are like the satisfying conclusion of a book or an epic movie. They're deep and long-lasting, often consisting of woody, musky, or earthy elements that anchor the entire fragrance.
While these three layers are the typical structure of a fragrance, the number of individual notes within each layer can vary widely. Some fragrances may be simpler, comprising a few well-defined notes in each layer, while others, especially complex perfumes, might contain a myriad of individual notes to create a more intricate and multi-faceted scent profile. It's not uncommon for a fragrance to have a dozen or more notes in total across its layers.
Think of "accords" as musical chords but for your nose! Accords are unique combinations of scents that make up a fragrance's personality. For example, a "citrusy floral" accord combines zesty and flowery notes for a harmonious aroma.
As a fragrance dries on your skin, it undergoes a transformation, revealing its full character. The "dry-down" is like the surprise twist at the end of a good story when only the base notes remain. Sometimes it's even better than the opening!
"Intensity" in perfumery refers to the strength, power or forcefulness of a fragrance. It describes how strong or potent a scent is when perceived by the nose. The intensity of a perfume is influenced by multiple factors, including: the concentration of aromatic compounds, the nature of the fragrance notes and the quality of the ingredients used in the composition.
This describes how long a fragrance lasts on your skin. Some perfumes are sprinters, while others are marathon runners. It's all comes down to personal preference – do you prefer a fragrance that stays put, or one that changes over time?
This fancy French word simply means "trail." It's how much your fragrance wafts around you and leaves its lingering presence in a room. High sillage can be captivating, while low sillage is more subtle.
These "aromachemicals" are also known as synthetic aroma molecules or synthetic fragrance materials, are lab-created compounds used in perfumery to replicate natural scents or create entirely new olfactory experiences. These chemicals are designed to mimic the aromatic characteristics found in various natural substances such as flowers, fruits, woods, spices and more. Another use is to enhance the stability and longevity of a fragrance composition, contributing to its overall performance.
A fragrance "family" is a categorization system used in perfumery to group scents based on their olfactory characteristics and the predominant notes or ingredients they feature. These families provide a way to classify and understand the diverse array of fragrances available! Some of the most common include: "warm and spicy," "floral," "fresh," "woody and earthy."
Stay tuned as we continue adding more terms to this list — and for our exploration of the infamous Fragrance Wheel.