Glossary

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A
  • Ambrette

    Ambrette is a botanic or plant-based substitute for the aroma of musk, which was historically derived from animals origins. This raw material is derived from the seeds of the Ambrette flower pod.
  • Amyris

    Amyris, expressed from the trunk of this species of tree as a balsam or resin. Gives of a sweet and warm, sandalwood-like aroma.
  • Animalic

    Animalic, materials derived from animals have been used in perfumes since antiquity and some are still highly valued by perfumers, most of them being exceptionally powerful and excel fixatives. The main ones are:Ambergris (from the sperm whale), Castoreum (beaver), Civet (civet cat), Hyraceum (hyrax), Musk (musk deer), Propolis (bee), Sweet Hoof (marine snail). These days animalic notes may also refer to fragrances from non animal origins (eg plant or lab), that resemble these materials
  • Ambergris

    Ambergris, sometimes refered to as 'whale vomit', it is a stone secreted from the stomach of a sperm whale. Characterised as an earthy somewhat sweet smell, it was historically used to round fragrance compositions (ie used as a fixative). Believed to have aphrodisiac qualities. These days it is mainly used in synthetic format due to a ban on its usage in nature. Consequently, these days, the term "ambergris" is used interchangeably with "amber"
B
  • Blue Gum Eucalyptus

    Blue gum eucalyptus essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh or partially dried leaves and young twigs. A colourless mobile liquid (yellow on aging), with a somewhat harsh camphoraceous odour and woody-scent undertone.  
  • Balsam

    Balsam is often used interchangeably with the word resin. Such raw material are closely linked with the Oriental family of ingredients and include gums, barks and other floral materials.
  • Bergamot

    Bergamot, the essential oil from the rind of the non edible Bergamot orange, grown mainly in Italy. Bergamot lends a sparkling citrus-y freshness to perfumes. Orange blossom, neroli and petit grain all come from the same tree
C
  • Choya Nakh

    Choya Nakh, A traditional Indian oil created from distilling roasted seashells. Imparts notes of salt, ocean, smoke, seaweed and moss.
  • Cumin

    Cumin essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the ripe seeds. It is a pale yellow or greenish liquid with a warm, soft, spicy-musky scent. It blends well with lavandin, rosemary, galbanum, rosewood, cardamom and oriental-type fragrances.  
  • Clove Bud

    Clove bud, essential oil by water distillation from the buds. Concrete, absolute, oleoresin produced from the bud in small quantity.Pale yellow liquid with a sweet spicy odour and a fruity fresh top note. The bud oil is favoured in perfumery work. It blends well with rose, lavender, vanillin, clary sage, bergamot, bay leaf, lavandin, allspice, ylang-ylang and cananga.  
  • Cinnamon bark

    Cinnamon bark is extracted by water or steam distillation from the dried inner bark. It is Pale to dark yellow liquid with a sweet, warm-spicy, dry, tenacious odour.
  • Cardamon

    Cardamom oil is extracted by steam distillation from the dried ripe fruit (seeds). It is a colourless to pale yellow liquid with a sweet spicy, warming fragrance and a woody-balsamic undertone.
  • Cascalone

    Cascalone is a fragrance ingredient which has been created or synthesised in a lab. It adds a fresh aquatic feel to fragrance compositions.
  • Citron

    Citron, also known as cédrat in French, is an inedible citrus fruit. It gives off a dry, pulpy aroma.
  • Cassia

    Cassia, also known as Chinese Cinnamon, is an aromatic bark with a very characteristic spicey and intense aroma.
  • Clementine

    Clementine, a cross between mandarin and orange (also known as Christmas mandarin or tangerine), that gives off a sweet, juicy, fresh, citrus aroma. Clementine essential oil is extracted via cold expression from the outer peel of the fruit.
  • Cassis

    Cassis, a deep rich and juicy scent of blackcurrants. Blackcurrant bud absolute is known as "bourgeons de cassis" in French.
  • Coumarin

    Coumarin, a commonly used perfume compound that smells like vanilla. Usually derived from the tonka bean
  • Compound

    Compound, the concentrated fragrance mixture before it is diluted to make the finished perfume. Also called perfume oil
  • Cloying

    Cloying, an odour (or odor) that is excessively sticky sweet
  • Clary Sage

    Clary Sage, the oil of this herb smells sweet to bittersweet, with nuances of amber, hay and tobacco.
  • Civet

    Civet, a secretion from the anal gland of the Civet fox, giving an animalic, fecal character. No longer cultivated from animals, only found in synthetic format
  • Castoreum

    Castoreum, an oily secretion from the abdominal sacs of beavers. Warm and animalic, a typical character in leather perfumes. These days it is mainly used in synthetic form
D
E
  • Extrait

    Perfume extract fragrances (Extrait) contain a concentration of between 15-25% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
  • Eau de Parfum

    Eau de Parfum fragrances contain a concentration of between 8-15% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
  • Eau de Toilette

    Eau de Toilette fragrances contain a concentration of between 4-10% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
  • Eau de Cologne

    Eau de Cologne fragrances (also known as Cologne or Eau Fraiche) contain a concentration of between 2-5% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
  • Expression

    Expression (adj. expressed), where oil found in the outer skin of a citrus fruit is released. This is a cold process, as such also known as cold pressed. Citrus oils would lose their integrity if extracted via steam distillation.
  • Essential Oil

    Essential oil, oil that is obtained from plant or flower material via steam distillation
  • Estragon

    Estragon (also known as Tarragon), possesses a fresh, leafy spicy green herbaceous note with subtle sweetness.
  • Extract

    Extract, concentrated perfume or flower products obtained through the process of extraction using volatile solvents.
F
  • Floralcy

    The term floralcy refers to a fragrance that presents a floral aspect or includes the smell of flowers.
  • Floriental

    Floriental fragrances, contain floral notes combined with vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood and musk. They do not contain patchouli, which is a charactristic ingredient of oriental fragrances.
  • Freesia

    Freesia presents itself as a fresh floral aroma, somewhat peppery, sometimes sweet.
  • Formula

    Formula, a listing of ingredients to be combined according to pre-defined proportions or ratios in order to create a specified odour (odor) or aroma.
  • Full Bodied

    Full Bodied, a term used to describe a well-rounded fragrance possessing depth and richness.
  • Fruity

    Fruity, the impression of full, ripe, edible fruit odours or odors (excluding citrus) within the fragrance theme.
  • Fresh

    Fresh, an invigorating, outdoor or nature-inspired type fragrance with green, citrus notes.
  • Fragrance Wardrobe

    Fragrance Wardrobe (Fragrance Wardrobing, verb), a collection of fragrances that a person owns or collects in order to meet different moods, occasions, and even times of day. These fragrances can be layered or worn distinct.
  • Flat

    Flat, when a fragrance is refered ro as lacking in lift, diffusion and distinction.
G
  • Guaiacwood

    Guaiacwood, an exotic wood note that has tar-like, phenolic facets, imparting smoky, tarmac notes in perfumes.  
  • Green

    Green, fragrances whose odour (or odor) is reminiscent of fresh-cut grass, leaves or a warm, moist forest.
H
  • Hesperidics

    Hesperidics refer to fruits or citrus-smelling raw materials and includes everything from lemongrass to yuzu, bergamot to lime. Typically hesperidic notes form the top note or initial impression of a fragrance composition. Due to the volatility of these ingredients, their impression is fresh and fleeting.
  • Headspace

    Headspace, refers to the air surrounding a material or object which eminates volatile fragrance compounds
  • Herbaceous

    Herbaceous, a fragrance note that is grassy-green, spicy and sometimes associated with therapeutics, e.g. thyme, lavender, rosemary, basil & chamomile.
  • Hedione

    Hedione, an aroma chemical that has a soft, radiant jasmine aroma.
  • Heavy

    Heavy, an odour (or odor) which can be forceful, intense, as well as often sweet and balsamic.
I
  • Indolic

    Indole (adjective indolic) is a chemical compound synthesized but also occuring naturally in floral notes like jasmine and tuberose.  which smells floral at low concentrations, fecal at high concentrations. A very common perfumery term, indoles usually impart a narcotic (strong floral), ripe or animalic character.
  • Iso E Super

    Iso E Super, an aroma chemical, described as having a smooth, woody, amber note with a velvety sensation. Used to impart fullness to fragrance compositions
  • Ionones

    Ionones, one of the most valued synthetic perfume ingredients. Having a fresh, violet aroma they were first introduced into perfumery in 1936.
J
K
  • Khus

    Khus or Khus Khus is an Indian term for vetiver
L
  • Lavandin

    Lavandin essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowering top: it has a higher yield of oil than either true lavender or aspic. (A concrete and absolute are also (produced by solvent extraction.) a colourless or pale yellow liquid with a fresh camphoraceous top note (which should not be too strong in a good quality oil), and a woody herbaceous undertone.  
  • Lavender

    Lavender is a flower belonging to the mint family, possessing a very clean and sharp aromatic note.
  • Lemon Verbena

    Lemon Verbena, a flowering tall shrub, gives off a lemony fresh, clean aroma. The plant has a long glossy leaves that release a lemony scent when rubbed.
  • Lotus

    Lotus, gives off a light floral note with a watery feel. Sometimes confused with Waterlily which is another aquatic flower.
  • Linden Blossom

    Linden Blossom, a bright floral odor (odour) adds a refreshing rich honey aspect to fragrance compositions. Sometimes confused with lime blossom
  • Lastingness

    Lastingness, the ability of a fragrance to retain its character over a given period of time.
M
  • Mouillettes

    Mouillettes is a fancy name for the smelling strips or paper blotters used to dip fragrance raw materials or spray solutions onto for sampling. Also known as Touches à parfum
  • Mimosa

    Mimosa, also known as Cassie or Acacia, gives of a sweet aroma that is somewhat sugary and likened to Heliotrope (see H).
  • Myrrh

    Myrrh, a gum resin produced from a bush found in Arabia and Eastern Africa.
  • Musk

    Musk, natural musk comes from the glands of the musk deer. But the vast majority of musk produced and sold in the world today is synthetic.
  • Muguet

    Muguet, French for Lily of the Valley. One of the three most used florals in perfumery. Unlike jasmine and rose, usually synthetically reproduced. Muguet has a green floral aroma with a clean and bright aspect.
N
  • Nutmeg

    Nutmeg, steam ( or water distillation) from the worm-eaten nutmeg seed ( the worms eat away all the starch and fat content). A water-white or pale yellow mobile liquid with a sweet, warm spicy odour and a terpeney top note.  
  • Narcotic

    Narcotic is a term used to describe very strong and heavy fragrances, typically from flowers, such as jasmine and tuberose. Can also refer to rich Oriental notes, possibly harking back to the opium dens of yesteryear.
  • Note

    Note, lifted from the language of music this term is used indicate an olfactory impression of a single smell, or to indicate the three parts of a perfume - top note, middle note, base note.
  • Neroli

    Neroli, a citrus oil distilled from the blossoms of either the sweet or bitter orange tree. The Italian term for neroli is zagara.
O
  • Oriental

    In perfumery, "Oriental" refers to perfumes which contain ingredients that originated in the East (ie the Orient), typically spices, vanilla, tea, incense, amber & sandalwood. These ingredients add a heavy, sweet or spicy character to fragrance compositions.
  • Ozone

    Ozone, a modern, synthetic note meant to mimic the smell of fresh air right after a thunderstorm.
  • Oudh

    Oudh, refers to wood from the Agar tree, found mostly in Southeast Asia. The fragrant resin is treasured by perfumers.
  • Osmanthus

    Osmanthus, a flowering tree native to China, valued for its delicate fruity apricot aroma.
  • Opopanax

    Opopanax, a herb that grows in the Middle East, North Africa and the Meditarranean, also known as sweet myrrh. The resin produces a scent similar to balsam or lavender.
P
  • Precious Woods

    Precious woods, typically refers to notes of teak wood, palisander, zebrano
  • Perfumer

    Perfumer, an expert creator or composer of fragrances, (also known as a Nose, or Nez in French). The modern day perfumer is essentially a chemist who can recognise a wide range of fragrance ingredients both in isolation, and in combination with one another, and specifically possesses the skill to write chemical formulas that may call on tens if not hundreds of raw - natural or synthesised - ingredients. Many perfumers also consider themselves as artists.
  • Phenolic

    Phenolic refers to the character of fragrance notes which are dry, smoky and even acrid. Coffee, leather and tea may be described as phenolic.
  • Powdery

    Powdery, used to describe a sweet, dry, somewhat musky odour (or odor). Baby powder is often used as a reference point for this category of fragrances.
  • Patchouli

    A bushy shrub originally from Malaysia and India. Has a musty-sweet, spicy aroma. Often used as a base note.
Q
R
  • Rosemary

    Rosemary essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the fresh flowering tops or (in Spain) the whole plant (poorer quality). A colourless or pale yellow mobile liquid with a strong, fresh minty-herbaceous scent and a woody-herbaceous scent and a woody balsamic undertone. Poor-quality oils have a strong camphoraceous note.  
  • Rounding out

    Rounding out, perfume ingredients added to fragrance compositions to 'complete' , that is to enrich, modify or soften any harsh qualities.
  • Rose

    One of the main flower notes used in perfumery.
S
  • Sweet Fennel

    Sweet fennel is extracted via steam distillation from crushed seeds. A colourless to pale yellow liquid with a very sweet, anise-like, slightly earthy-peppery scent. It blends well with geranium lavender, rose and sandalwood.  
  • Saffron

    Saffron, known as “King of spices”, an ancient aromatic from the iris family. Its aroma may be described as bittersweet, leathery and earthy.
  • Synthetics

    Synthetics, perfume ingredients that are produced by synthetic organic chemistry rather than bio-synthetically by a plant. In most cases the synthetic ingredients used in perfumery are nature identical, i.e., identical to the same molecule made by the plant.
  • Strength

    Strength, in reference to perfume, it describes the relative intensity of a fragrance impression.
  • Spicy

    Spicy, piquant or pungent notes that have a warm or hot character, such as clove, cinnamon or pepper.
  • Sillage

    Sillage, the trail of scent left behind by a perfume, or in the wake of its wearer. Fragrances with minimal sillage are often said to “stay close to the skin."
  • Sandalwood

    An oil from the Indian sandal tree. One of the oldest known perfumery ingredients, commonly used as a base note.
T
  • White Thyme

    White thyme essential oil is extracted by water or steam distillation from the fresh or partially dried leaves and flowering tops. A clear, pale yellow liquid with a sweet, green-fresh, milder scent. It blends well with bergamot, lemon, rosemary, Melissa, lavender, lavandin, marjoram, peru balsam, pine, etc.  
  • Tarragon

    Tarragon essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves. it is a colourless or pale yellow mobile liquid (turning yellow with age), with a sweet-anisic, spicy-green scent.  
  • Tuberose

    Tuberose, a plant with highly-perfumed white flowers, resembling those of a lily. A heady intense floral odour (odor)
  • Tonka Bean

    Tonka Bean, derived from a plant native to Brazil. Has an aroma of vanilla with strong hints of cinnamon, cloves and almonds. Used as a less-expensive alternative to vanilla.
  • Tenacity

    The ability of a perfume to last, or a fragrance note to retain its characteristic odour.
U
  • Undertones

    The subtle characteristics of the fragrance background.
V
  • Violet

    Violet, The scent of violet leaves is different from the scent of the flowers. The leaves impart an earthy green aroma with a cut-grass and cucumber feel. The flower on the other hand, has a sweet powdery, and sometimes slightly spicy note. Violet was Napoleon Bonaparte’s favourite flower
  • Vetiver

    Vetiver, a grass with heavy, fibrous roots, which are used to distill an oil possessing a characteristic aroma of moist earth with woody, earthy, leather and smoky undertones. A highly prized ingredient in masculine perfumes.
  • Vanilla

    Derived from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid. Highly fragrant, popular, and expensive to produce.
W
  • Wormwood

    Wormwood (also known as absinthe or artemesia) has a green, sharp, bitter aroma.
  • White Flowers

    White flowers, commonly refer to a combination of jasmine and tuberose. A heavy, narcotic odor (odour)
  • Woody

    An odour which is linked to the aroma of freshly cut, dry wood or fibrous root such as sandalwood or vetiver.
X
Y
  • Ylang Ylang

    An Asian evergreen tree with fragrant flowers. Used in expensive floral perfumes.
Z
  • Zebrano

    Zebrano or zebrawood is a striped wood that is reminiscent of a zebra. Emits a strong, woody aroma somewhat reminiscent of 'barnyard'.