AmbretteAmbrette 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.
AmyrisAmyris, expressed from the trunk of this species of tree as a balsam or resin. Gives of a sweet and warm, sandalwood-like aroma.
AnimalicAnimalic, 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
AmbergrisAmbergris, 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"
Blue Gum EucalyptusBlue 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.
BalsamBalsam 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.
BergamotBergamot, 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
Choya NakhChoya Nakh, A traditional Indian oil created from distilling roasted seashells. Imparts notes of salt, ocean, smoke, seaweed and moss.
CuminCumin 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 BudClove 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 barkCinnamon 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.
CardamonCardamom 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.
CascaloneCascalone is a fragrance ingredient which has been created or synthesised in a lab. It adds a fresh aquatic feel to fragrance compositions.
CitronCitron, also known as cédrat in French, is an inedible citrus fruit. It gives off a dry, pulpy aroma.
CassiaCassia, also known as Chinese Cinnamon, is an aromatic bark with a very characteristic spicey and intense aroma.
ClementineClementine, 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.
CassisCassis, a deep rich and juicy scent of blackcurrants. Blackcurrant bud absolute is known as "bourgeons de cassis" in French.
CoumarinCoumarin, a commonly used perfume compound that smells like vanilla. Usually derived from the tonka bean
CompoundCompound, the concentrated fragrance mixture before it is diluted to make the finished perfume. Also called perfume oil
CloyingCloying, an odour (or odor) that is excessively sticky sweet
Clary SageClary Sage, the oil of this herb smells sweet to bittersweet, with nuances of amber, hay and tobacco.
CivetCivet, 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
CastoreumCastoreum, 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
DryDry, a term often used to describe fragrances with a woody aspect or character.
ElemiElemi, a tree native to the Philippines steam distilled for its resin. With a honey-type texture, it presents a sharp pine, lemony character. The term elemi may also refer broadly to resins.
ExtraitPerfume extract fragrances (Extrait) contain a concentration of between 15-25% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
Eau de ParfumEau de Parfum fragrances contain a concentration of between 8-15% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
Eau de ToiletteEau de Toilette fragrances contain a concentration of between 4-10% perfume oil. Eau is the French word for water.
Eau de CologneEau 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.
ExpressionExpression (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 OilEssential oil, oil that is obtained from plant or flower material via steam distillation
EstragonEstragon (also known as Tarragon), possesses a fresh, leafy spicy green herbaceous note with subtle sweetness.
ExtractExtract, concentrated perfume or flower products obtained through the process of extraction using volatile solvents.
FloralcyThe term floralcy refers to a fragrance that presents a floral aspect or includes the smell of flowers.
FlorientalFloriental 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.
FreesiaFreesia presents itself as a fresh floral aroma, somewhat peppery, sometimes sweet.
FormulaFormula, 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 BodiedFull Bodied, a term used to describe a well-rounded fragrance possessing depth and richness.
FruityFruity, the impression of full, ripe, edible fruit odours or odors (excluding citrus) within the fragrance theme.
FreshFresh, an invigorating, outdoor or nature-inspired type fragrance with green, citrus notes.
Fragrance WardrobeFragrance 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.
FlatFlat, when a fragrance is refered ro as lacking in lift, diffusion and distinction.
GuaiacwoodGuaiacwood, an exotic wood note that has tar-like, phenolic facets, imparting smoky, tarmac notes in perfumes.
GreenGreen, fragrances whose odour (or odor) is reminiscent of fresh-cut grass, leaves or a warm, moist forest.
HesperidicsHesperidics 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.
HeadspaceHeadspace, refers to the air surrounding a material or object which eminates volatile fragrance compounds
HerbaceousHerbaceous, a fragrance note that is grassy-green, spicy and sometimes associated with therapeutics, e.g. thyme, lavender, rosemary, basil & chamomile.
HedioneHedione, an aroma chemical that has a soft, radiant jasmine aroma.
HeavyHeavy, an odour (or odor) which can be forceful, intense, as well as often sweet and balsamic.
IndolicIndole (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 SuperIso E Super, an aroma chemical, described as having a smooth, woody, amber note with a velvety sensation. Used to impart fullness to fragrance compositions
IononesIonones, one of the most valued synthetic perfume ingredients. Having a fresh, violet aroma they were first introduced into perfumery in 1936.
KhusKhus or Khus Khus is an Indian term for vetiver
LavandinLavandin 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.
LavenderLavender is a flower belonging to the mint family, possessing a very clean and sharp aromatic note.
Lemon VerbenaLemon 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.
LotusLotus, gives off a light floral note with a watery feel. Sometimes confused with Waterlily which is another aquatic flower.
Linden BlossomLinden Blossom, a bright floral odor (odour) adds a refreshing rich honey aspect to fragrance compositions. Sometimes confused with lime blossom
LastingnessLastingness, the ability of a fragrance to retain its character over a given period of time.
MouillettesMouillettes 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
MimosaMimosa, also known as Cassie or Acacia, gives of a sweet aroma that is somewhat sugary and likened to Heliotrope (see H).
MyrrhMyrrh, a gum resin produced from a bush found in Arabia and Eastern Africa.
MuskMusk, 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.
MuguetMuguet, 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.
NutmegNutmeg, 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.
NarcoticNarcotic 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.
NoteNote, 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.
NeroliNeroli, a citrus oil distilled from the blossoms of either the sweet or bitter orange tree. The Italian term for neroli is zagara.
OrientalIn 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.
OzoneOzone, a modern, synthetic note meant to mimic the smell of fresh air right after a thunderstorm.
OudhOudh, refers to wood from the Agar tree, found mostly in Southeast Asia. The fragrant resin is treasured by perfumers.
OsmanthusOsmanthus, a flowering tree native to China, valued for its delicate fruity apricot aroma.
OpopanaxOpopanax, 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.
Precious WoodsPrecious woods, typically refers to notes of teak wood, palisander, zebrano
PerfumerPerfumer, 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.
PhenolicPhenolic refers to the character of fragrance notes which are dry, smoky and even acrid. Coffee, leather and tea may be described as phenolic.
PowderyPowdery, 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.
RosemaryRosemary 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 outRounding out, perfume ingredients added to fragrance compositions to 'complete' , that is to enrich, modify or soften any harsh qualities.
St. John’s WortSt. John’s Wort imparts an aroma that is herbaceous, warm, floral, powdery and slightly sweet. St.John’s Wort fragrance is steam-distilled from its aerial parts and golden flowers.
SantolinaSantolina (sometimes known as Cotton Lavender or Grey Santolina) belongs to the same family as Chamomile. Originating in the central and western Mediterranean region, it is a small evergreen plant covered in aromatic, grey-green leaves. It produces masses of yellow, button-like flower head. Satolina leaves are distilled to release its fragrance, a sharp, fresh herbaceaous scent with similarities to Yarrow and Chamomile.
Sweet FennelSweet 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.
SaffronSaffron, known as “King of spices”, an ancient aromatic from the iris family. Its aroma may be described as bittersweet, leathery and earthy.
SyntheticsSynthetics, 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.
StrengthStrength, in reference to perfume, it describes the relative intensity of a fragrance impression.
SpicySpicy, piquant or pungent notes that have a warm or hot character, such as clove, cinnamon or pepper.
SillageSillage, 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."
White ThymeWhite 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.
TarragonTarragon 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.
TuberoseTuberose, a plant with highly-perfumed white flowers, resembling those of a lily. A heady intense floral odour (odor)
Tonka BeanTonka 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.
UnguentUnguent, a term arising from the Victorian era, to denote an ointment or salve, typically applied to sores or broken skin.
VioletViolet, 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
VetiverVetiver, 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.
VanillaDerived from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid. Highly fragrant, popular, and expensive to produce.
WormwoodWormwood (also known as absinthe or artemesia) has a green, sharp, bitter aroma.
White FlowersWhite flowers, commonly refer to a combination of jasmine and tuberose. A heavy, narcotic odor (odour)
WoodyAn odour which is linked to the aroma of freshly cut, dry wood or fibrous root such as sandalwood or vetiver.
Ylang YlangAn Asian evergreen tree with fragrant flowers. Used in expensive floral perfumes.
ZebranoZebrano or zebrawood is a striped wood that is reminiscent of a zebra. Emits a strong, woody aroma somewhat reminiscent of 'barnyard'.