Common Terms

Some common terms, companies, houses, slang, and titles that the industry uses.

Blotter: Fragrance blotters are narrow strips of absorbent paper that can be dipped or sprayed with perfume.

Cloying: In perfumery, cloying usually refers to a fragrance that is too sweet and too clingy.

Eau de Cologne: A term used to determine a specific perfume oil to alcohol/water concentration. Eau de Colognes tend to contain around 2 – 5% perfume oil. See this page for more.

Eau de Parfum: A term used to determine a specific perfume oil to alcohol/water concentration. Eau de Parfums tend to contain around 8 – 15% perfume oil. See this page for more.

Eau de Toilette: A term used to determine a specific perfume oil to alcohol/water concentration. Eau de Toilettes tend to contain around 4 – 10% perfume oil. See this page for more.

Factice: A perfume bottle created to market the fragrance and is used as a  decorative commercial display item. Most factice bottles are of the giant variety. Most often, factice bottles are filled with an alcohol or formaldehyde mixture and not actual perfume.

Flanker: Fragrances created to capitalize or pay homage to a commercially successful perfume. For example, Shalimar is a wildly successful fragrance and one of its flankers is Shalimar Light.

Fountain: A vessel that holds large amounts of perfume used to fill smaller bottles. One of the most talked about perfume fountains that a consumer can buy is Guerlain’s Mon Precious Nector Fountain Imperiale.

Niche: Is a highly subjective term but is generally applied to fragrances that are not sold on the mass market.

Notes: Isolated scents. Perfume notes refer to the scents that can be detected or are claimed to be in perfumes. Notes are determined in most perfumes as top, middle (or heart), and base (or bottom) notes. These notes are arranged in order of evaporation rate. Top notes are typically what you will smell first and will be the first notes to evaporate. Heart notes are next, followed by the base notes.

Perfumer: The perfumer or nose is an individual who mixes and creates perfumes.

Sillage: The projection of a fragrance or the scent trail that a perfume leaves behind.


Fragrance Families

Fragrance families are categories of similar scents. Fragrance families are used by people who are looking for certain characteristics in their perfumes. Classifying fragrances into families is highly subjective and can vary from individual to individual. There are a few different classification systems that fragrance experts use. Listed below are some of the common fragrance families most discussed on this blog. Please note that this blog uses an unconventional fragrance classification. For more mainstream or traditional classifications please consult the Fragrance Wheel by Michael Edwards.

Aromatic: Generally refers to a fragrance that contains herb notes such as thyme, mint, or rosemary. CK One is a fragrance generally thought to be an aromatic.

Chypre (Shee-Pr-ahh): Is a fragrance concept that typically structures around a mossy, amber, or musk base with mid notes of florals such as jasmine and top notes containing citrus. Chypres were based on Coty’s fragrance by the same name. Mitsouko is one example of a chypre.

Floral: Fragrances that focus on flowers arranged in scent bouquets. Rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, and gardenia are examples of florals. Chloe is an example of a floral perfume.

Fougere: A popular family most often seen in men’s fragrances. Lavender, coumarin and oak moss are often seen in fougere fragrances. Azzaro pour Homme is a fougere.

Fresh: Fresh scents are sometimes placed together with citrus and are characterized by having a clean and green quality. Lemon, lime, and ozone are some notes featured in this category. Versense is a fresh fragrance.

Fruity: Fruity fragrances mimic fruit scents. Pear, apple, peach, berries, and passion fruit are some examples of fruity notes. Hidden Fantasy is one example of a fruity perfume.

Gourmand: Are fragrances that smell similar to food. Chocolate, caramel, butterscotch and cupcake are some notes that may go into a gourmand. Vanilla, depending on the treatment, can also make a gourmand out of a fragrance. Burberry Brit is one example of a gourmand scent.

Oriental: Contains ambers, resins, woods, musks and vanillas. Orientals often include spicy notes too. Ambergris and vanilla are two notes featured in orientals. Ambre Gris can be considered an oriental fragrance.

Soliflore: Is a fragrance dedicated or based on a single flower. Beyond Love is an example of a soliflore that is dedicated to tuberose.

Woody: Often encompass fragrances that focus on woods, resins, and smoke. Mahogany, cedarwood and pipe tobacco are some notes used in woody fragrances. Samsara is an example of a woody fragrance.