A highly concentrated perfume material obtained by volatile solvent extraction or more traditionally, through enfleurage, from a concrete. The concrete undergoes repeated ‘washings’ with alcohol, during each of them the fragrant oils mix with the alcohol leaving the waxes behind. The waxes are discarded leaving a mixture of alcohol and oil which is heated at reduced pressure to ensure that the oil is not damaged, the alcohol evaporates, leaving behind a substance known as an absolute. Absolutes are generally full bodied and sensual.

A complex balance of three or four notes, which lose their individual identity to create a completely new, unified odor impression. Analogous to musical terminology in which several notes are combined to create a single chord.


Denatured ethyl alcohol is added to a fragrance compound to serve as carrier. It modifies the fragrance intensity and makes application on skin easier.


An aroma chemical that contains a functional group consisting of a carbon, a hydrogen, and an oxygen atom. Aldehydes can be derived from natural or synthetic materials. There are different type of scents associated with this chemical function but the most commonly referred to when profiling a scent as “aldehydic” is a sharp, metallic, crisp, slightly fatty impression often associated with the smell of clean textile or hot iron. One of the first “aldehydic” fragrance is the famous 5 created by Perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1920 and launched by Gabrielle Chanel in 1921.

Animalic notes

or animal-like notes…Important ingredients such as musk, civet, amber-gris, and castoreum were once provided by the animal world. In modern perfumery, synthetic chemicals more or less successfully mimic the sensual, heady base notes associated with these scents. Almost all classic fragrances contain a masterfully dosed animalic note meant to provide long-lastingness and a sexy drydown.


A term used to describe a sensation which is between smell and taste, such as the aroma of coffee.

Aroma Chemical

Among the perfumer’s primary tools, some synthetic aroma chemicals duplicate chemicals that occur naturally; these are classified as nature-identical. A second category is isolated from natural origins, and a third category consists of the synthetic chemicals not found in nature.


In perfumery, a family of ingredients, usually shrubs containing camphor, most of them with a fresh and herbaceous odor profile: lavender, laurel, thyme, artemisia or mint are a few typical ingredients used by perfumers to convey a nature-like freshness. Traditionally, aromatic notes have been used a lot in masculine fragrances.



The result of the blending perfumery components into one harmonious sensory experience.


Sticky, resinous material obtained from trees or shrubs.

Balsamic notes

A term used in perfumery to describe the sweet, soft and warm character of balsams and resins.

Base Notes

Same as drydown. They are made of the underlying tones of the fragrance, and are responsible for its lasting qualities. They are heavier, therefore evaporating slower, which makes them them the foundation of any fragrance construction .


The wax used by bees in making honeycombs. It is used in cosmetics and ointments, principally to thicken essential oils, and appears occasionally as an ingredient in perfumes. It can also be used as a base/ carrier for solid perfumes.


Harmonious mixture of perfumery ingredients.

Blotter Strip

Thin, odorless filter paper that is extremely absorbent. It is dipped into raw materials or finished fragrance for sniff-testing by perfumer, fragrance evaluator and consumer.


The main fragrance theme – the “middle” or “heart” of the perfume. Also used to describe a fragrance that is well-rounded or full.



A term used in perfumery to describe a fresh, clean medicinal type of scent containing or resembling the very strong odor of camphor.


An ingredient- preferably odorless- used to favor the evaporation/ diffusion of the fragrance material or the fragrance blend. Alcohol is the carrier of choice for fine fragrances, but natural oils (olive oil, Jojoba oil, and many more) can be used as carriers for essential oils. It is sometimes believed that the carriers are used to “dilute” fragrances but it is a misconception: without the carrier, the scent does not “take off” the skin, and does not become “alive” and diffuse around the person who wears it.


This family was fashioned from the acclaimed fragrance”Chypre”, created by Francois Coty in 1917 as a tribute to the island of Cyprus. The Classic construction is based on patchouli, oak-moss, cistus labdanum, a floral accord and bergamot, and can include fruity, green or leathery notes as well. Today, practically anything that contains patchouli is dubbed “Chypre” while it should really only say “woody”, but the wonders of marketing sometimes transcend facts.


Oils from zests like lemon, bergamot, lime, tangerine, grapefruit or bitter orange fruits are characterized by a refreshing, tangy scent. Citrus ingredients impart clean and bright notes when added to the top notes of a fragrance. Citrus essential oils are most often obtained by a process called expression where the skin is pressed to extract the oil encapsulated in each bump you can see at the surface of the fruit. Citrus oils are fragile and easily deteriorated by heat. Great quality essences are expensive but they provide an unmatched freshness and natural touch to the blends and are well worth the expense.


A solid, waxy substance representing the closest odor duplication of the flower, bark, leaves, etc…, from which it has been extracted. They are obtained either by volatile solvent extraction or by enfleurage. Concretes are typically further rinsed with alcohol and concentrated to produce an absolute but can sometimes be used as such.



The ability of a fragrance to quickly radiate around the wearer.


The final phase of a fragrance as it develops on the skin (usually takes 3 to 4 hours on dry skin). Perfumers evaluate the base notes and the tenacity of the fragrance during this stage.



The odor of freshly turned earth, musty and rooty.

Eau de Cologne

The paternity of the original product is still a bit controversial, but it is admitted that it all started in the first half of the 18th century with the creation of a light, fresh and expensive fragrance called Aqua Mirabilis, attributed to Giovanni Paolo Feminis, an Italian living in Cologne (Köln, Germany). It was essentially a blend of citrus notes with the addition of neroli and lavender. In 1709, Giovanni Maria Farina, another Italian settled in Cologne, launched a modified version called Eau de Cologne – in reference to his home town- that became immensely popular and was used as perfume in almost all royal houses across Europe. In modern times, “eau de cologne” has become a generic term referring to a low concentration fragrance: An Eau de Cologne typically contains 4% to 6% of fragrance oil and the rest of the solution is alcohol.

Eau de Parfum

Fragrances are available in different concentrations, each are determined by the amount of actual fragrance oil, to alcohol in the finished solution. The final concentration varies with each individual fragrance; some are more diffusive at a lower concentration than at a higher one. An Eau de Parfum typically contains 15% to 20% of fragrance oil and the rest of the solution is alcohol.

Eau de Toilette

Fragrances are available in different concentrations, each are determined by the amount of actual fragrance oil, to alcohol in the finished solution. The final concentration varies with each individual fragrance; some are more diffusive at a lower concentration than at a higher one. An Eau de Toilette typically contains 8% to 15% of fragrance oil and the rest of the solution is alcohol.


The technique of enclosing perfume oils in small to microscopic capsules (often made of gelatin) meant to brake under pressure – like rubbing- therefore releasing the scent. Many different product forms can benefit from this technique of delayed fragrance release. One example could be a fabric treated with a micro-encapsulated scent which would get released when the clothes are worn.


One of the oldest methods used to process natural ingredients. Similar to maceration except that cold, purified fats are used rather than hot ones. As in maceration, a pomade is formed, then washed with alcohol, from this an extract of flower called absolute is obtained.


A word often used loosely to mean Essential Oil. More strictly it signifies an alcoholic or aqueous plant extract; such extracts are seldom employed in modern perfumery but are widely used in cosmetics and flavorings.

Essential Oil

The fragrant, volatile extracts obtained by steam distillation or expression of plants like flowers, grass, stems, seeds, leaves, roots, bark, fruits, tree moss, or tree secretions. Essential oils are 100% natural and shine as the basic ingredients employed by the perfumer.


The process of changing from a liquid to a vapor. To slow down the evaporation process after a perfume bottle has been opened, the stopper should be closed tightly and the bottle stored in its box in a cool place.


A method used to extract oils from citrus fruits. It means pressing out the oils from the fruits that have a scented substance in their rind. They are pressed using of modern, hydraulic presses.


Concentrated perfume or flower product obtained mainly through the process of volatile solvent extraction or enfleurage.

Extrait de Parfum

Fragrances are available in different concentrations, each are determined by the amount of actual fragrance oil, to alcohol in the finished solution. The final concentration varies with each individual fragrance; some are more diffusive at a lower concentration than at a higher one. An Extrait de Parfum typically contains 20% to 40% of fragrance oil and the rest of the solution is alcohol.



A regular or oversized display perfume bottle that contains tinted liquid instead of fragrance.

Floral Bouquet

A fragrance composition based on a blend of floral notes.


The French word for fern. In the genealogy of fragrances, an entire family is named after the then innovative and successful Fougère Royale, launched in 1882 by renown perfumer Jean-Francois Houbiguant. This type of construction- regarded as typically masculine- relies on aromatic notes combined with geranium, lavender, oak-moss and coumarin, and was intended by its creator to be the metaphoric representation of the scent of ferns ( which don’t have an odor). Fougere Royale is recorded as the first time use of a synthetic aroma chemical in fragrance formulation.


In perfumery terminology, a general term for any concentration, such as perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, or cologne.

Fragrance Family

Fragrances that are constructed in a similar manner and have key ingredient combinations in common are said to be in the same family. Even though each fragrance within a family has its own personality, they have common facets that makes them related.


Light and invigorating, often nature-inspired notes (from essential oils or man-made molecules), like  green, citrus or ozonic to name a few.


The impression of edible fruit odors (excluding citrus ) within a fragrance theme.


A fragrance with harmonious accords that render a rich, robust scent, with a lot of volume.


Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry

The laboratory technique most commonly used in fragrance analysis. It is used routinely in quality control to identify and ensure consistency of a fragrance from one production to the next.

Genealogy of Fragrance

The classification of fragrance families by odor type, such as floral, citrus, chypre, leathery, etc., that owe their characteristics to their famous fragrance ancestors and have a family history or genealogy. Major innovations and departures from the traditional odor types can spawn a whole new classification to add to the fragrance family tree.


Consists primarily of synthetic edible (gourmand) notes such as honey, chocolate, vanilla or candy. They have been described as olfactory desserts.


Contrast between fresh green top notes (cut grass, crushed leaves), dewy undertones, earthy humid sap and sharp vegetal like galbanum, tomato leaves to give & bring nature’s evocation into a fragrance


Resinous substance exuded from the bark, twigs, or leaves of trees and shrubs. Includes resin and balsam.


Headspace Technology

A form of analysis that uses gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to yield a fingerprint of an odor in the air. The technique is often used to reproduce the aroma of living plants, flowers, fruits and herbs.


A fragrance note that has grassy green, and thought to be therapeutic, e.g., thyme, chamomile, etc.


A term used in perfumery to describe the essential oils obtained from citrus fruits.



A material used to produce a fragrant odor when burned; it is also the perfume exhaled from some spices, resins and gums when burned.


alcohols. When hot alcohols are used, it is called an infusion. When alcohols are at room temperature or warm, the solution is called a tincture.

Ingredient Sourcer

A person who travels the world hunting for raw materials. In the field of fragrances, it is important to find sustainable sources, but also to identify new and innovative ingredients that have not been used so far and can extend the Perfumer’s palette. Very often, this hunt leads to the discovery of fascinating traditions and People, and a good sourcer will engage into equitable commercial relationship with the communities, involving some transfer of knowledge and technology in order to provide maximum autonomy and empowerment of the local populations.




A casual expression that refers to the scent itself, the liquid in the bottle…



Lasting Quality

The ability of a fragrance to retain its character, strength and diffusion for many hours.


A fragrance with predominantly clean, airy and fresher notes, as opposed to heavy, cloying or dark.

Limbic System

The area of the brain that receives and interprets the fragrance message from the olfactory nerves. Located deep inside the brain, the limbic system is the seat of the emotions, creativity, sexuality and memory.



1/An important step in the quality manufacturing of a fine fragrance: the matured ( see maturation) mixture of oil  is put on alcohol and allowed to age for weeks and sometimes months in order to create an homogeneous blend where all the ingredients are fused together, very much like an aged wine. This process, together with maturation, is critical to the quality and beauty of the fragrance, particularly when large amounts of essential oils and absolutes are part of the formula. These days, both of these steps are mostly overlooked and skipped by most manufacturers and brands who consider them a loss of time and an impairment to economic efficiency.

2/A process by which flowers are steeped in vats of hot fats. Maceration forms pomades, which are washed in alcohol to purify the scented mixture so that an extract of flower oil can be obtained (very similar to enfleurage). This expensive process requires a lot of hand labor and has become very rare.


A synthetically produced fragrance component of modern perfumery that evokes ocean-like qualities.


The process of letting the newly compounded blend of fragrance materials age before it is put into a base or a carrier (for example alcohol in the case of a fragrance). This is an essential part of any quality manufacturing and is very often skipped in our modern days where time is seen as a constraint. A minimum of 2 to 3 weeks is needed for all the ingredients of the formula to harmoniously blend together in a chemical process similar to the ageing of wines.

Middle Notes

Also called the heart notes, they serve as a transition between the top notes and base notes. It usually takes about 20 minutes for the middle notes to develop on the skin. Most floral notes are considered middle notes, and are important to build a full bodied fragrance.


An effect suggestive of oak moss, reminiscent of forest depths.


Musky notes originally were derived from musk Tonkin, but now they are created through organic synthesis. Musk provides diffusion and tenacity in the fragrance, with a distinctive warm scent that is skin-like, sensual and clean.



A vernacular expression for a perfumer.


Borrowed from the language of music to indicate an olfactory impression of a single smell, or to indicate the tree parts of a perfume: top, middle and base notes.



Airborne chemicals that stimulate the olfactory system. They emanate from objects, perfumes, etc., and constitute the characteristic smell of something.

Odor Memory

The sense of smell, more than any of our four senses, influence our ability to recall past events and experience. Fragrance is considered one of the most potent mediums for conjuring up memory.


Relating to, or connected with, the sense of smell.

Olfactory Bulb

The first region of the brain to receive sensory input from the olfactory epithelium. The olfactory bulb receives the initial input and communicates with numerous other regions of the brain, e.g., the hypothalamus and cortex, via the limbic system.

Olfactory Detection Threshold

The lowest concentration of vapor that can be identified as different from a background stimulus.

Olfactory Epithelium

Layer of the sensory cells in the upper rear portion of the nose. Each side of the nose contains millions of sensory cells in the epithelium.



A fragrance construction borrowed from the traditional ingredients of the Orient: balsamic notes such as amber, incense, woods, musks and spices. Oriental scents stand out because of their unique blend of warmth and sensuality. Shalimar de Guerlain is often considered the first oriental fragrance in the genealogy.


The chemical change or alteration due to exposure to air.


Synthetic molecules that evokes marine, pure, clean, and refreshing impressions. They first appeared in 1990 in New West for Her, a fragrance by Aramis.



The hundreds of fragrance raw materials from which the perfumer selects those needed for a particular fragrance creation.


The most concentrated, strongest and longest-lasting of the fragrance forms, it is brilliant blend that may contain several hundred ingredients. The word can be traced to the Latin word per, of, and fumare, to smoke.


Often referred to as the nose, the perfumer has an innate artistic and imaginative sense, as well as a highly developed sense of smell. It takes many years of training for the perfumer to perfect the olfactory memory that will allow him or her to not only recognize thousands of raw materials, but to recall innumerable beautiful harmonies and blends. The perfumer, must have the rare creative ability to visualize a scent and “construct” it using the olfactory memory just as an artist draws upon memory of color and form and a musician upon musical repertoire and fundamental structure of music and harmonies.


A combination of purified fats and flower oils that is the result of the process of enfleurage and maceration.


An effect referring to traditional face powders, originally scented with notes of orris, violet and some combination of vanilla & woods. It applies to a scent that expresses a dry, soft and musky character.




Receptor Cell

Located in the olfactory epithelium, each cell has microscopic hairs(cilia) extending into mucus. Odor molecules are thought to bind chemically to specific sites on these cilia. This chemical event is translated into an electrical message that is transmitted to the olfactory bulb.


Solid or semi-solid gums derived from the trees, particularly pine and other evergreens. Resins are noted for their fixative properties.

Retro Nasal Olfaction

Stimulation of the olfactory receptor cells by odors that originate in our mouth (most often during eating) and travel to the olfactory epithelium during exhalation.


A fine fragrance blend is refined until perfect balance and harmony are achieved. Once the composition is rich mellow, smooth and perfectly toned, the fragrance is considered to be round.



The fragrances aura perceived after an individual wearing a perfume has passed by.

Skin Chemistry

The chemical behavior of the skin varies from individual to individual and is influenced by variables such as diet, skin type, environment and medications. The skin can modify fragrance character, and as a result, a particular fragrance will smell different upon who is wearing it.

Slow Scent movement

A cultural movement in scent creation and scent appreciation, where the consumer can interact with the product at his chosen pace, far from the usual mercantile pressure and offer saturation. Products are designed solely for the purpose of the unique and qualitative experience that results in the formidable empowerment only the right scent can deliver.

Smoky Note

A term used in perfumery to describe notes reminiscent of smoke. It can be obtained by various raw materials and can be an important part of creating effects of leather, or firewood , or even bacon in some creative instance. Vetiver, Guaiacwood, Birch tar or Cade are natural ingredients which all have a smoky facet but it does not define the entirety of their profile.


A solvent (from the Latin solvō, “loosen, untie, solve”) is a substance that dissolves a solute (a chemically distinct liquid, solid or gas), resulting in a solution. A solvent is usually a liquid but can also be a solid, a gas, or a supercritical fluid. In perfumery, there are two distinct uses of solvents: the first is simply to dilute something to make it- for example- less strong in odor. The second use is for extracting the odoriferous part of a plant through a technique called volatile solvent extraction. In this case, the oils of the plant will be extracted through dissolution into the solvent.


Closely related to the food ingredients of the same names. Piquant or pungent notes such as clove oil and cinnamon. They are divided into: Cold spices with cardamom, ginger, coriander, pepper… and Warm spices with clove bud, cinnamon…

Steam Distillation

The use of water in steam form in order to extract essential oils from plants. Known for millennia, it was the Arabic doctor and philosopher, Avicenna, who perfected it in the tenth century. The raw material is placed on a grille suspended inside the still, water is put into the bottom, which is brought to the boil and turns to steam; as heat rises, the steam makes its way towards the top of the still, passing through the raw material en-route. The steam opens up the oil ‘cells’ and the oil becomes suspended in the steam as it passes out of the still via the ‘swans neck’ towards a condenser. As oil and water do not mix, the steam turns back to liquid and the oil and water separate. The resulting oil is known as an essential oil.


The intensity of a fragrance in any of the forms, e.g., perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, and cologne.


The ability of a scent to remain a long time on the skin, in the air, on a fabric…


Can be used to described an ingredient or fragrance that ambrosial characteristics associated with sweet taste. Vanilla, cotton-candy or chocolate are typical examples of sweet notes.


The ability of certain perfume ingredients to work together to produce and effect greater than the ingredients could achieve independently.


May be derived or isolated from nature or synthesized in the laboratory. Some aroma chemicals are superior to natural ones in esthetic, uniformity, stability and availability.



The ability of a perfume to last, or a fragrance note to retain its characteristic odor for many hours and sometimes days.


A tincture is where a raw material is placed in alcohol and left to macerate. It was the process used for the animalic notes and is still used for materials like vanilla. All that is needed is alcohol, the raw material and patience, as the oils contained in the raw material will eventually seep into the alcohol and scent it.

Top Note

The first impression of a fragrance after the bottle has been opened and immediately after it has been applied on the skin. Designed by the perfumer to be ephemeral and volatile, it sets the sensory stage for the development of middle and base notes, which provide the final impression of the fragrance as they all blend together on the skin.



The subtle nuance of the fragrance background.



The property of being diffused freely into the atmosphere, easily vaporized at low temperature.

Volatile Solvent Extraction

Aside from steam distillation, it is one of the most commonly used and effective method of obtaining the oils from fragrant ingredients. Plant materials are added to volatile solvents, often petroleum derived, at a low temperature. As the solvent flows over the plants in sealed containers, the fragrant oils are released without the use of harmful heat. The solvent is then evaporated to obtain the concrete – a strongly scented, waxy substance. The concrete is then mixed with alcohol, agitated, filtered and frozen. The alcohol is allowed to evaporate, yielding a rich end-product called the absolute.



An abundant scent that generates emotional warmth and conveys a sensation of intimacy and well-being. It is somewhat opposed to fresh.


In perfumery, waxes typically refer to a by-product in the volatile solvent extraction: the concrete obtained in this process, is a mixture of the precious scented material coveted by the perfumers and of some fats from the plants that have been extracted at the same time. The concrete is most often “rinsed” with alcohol in order to get rid of the waxes and obtain a more concentrated form of raw material called the absolute. The other advantage of separating the waxes is that they are not easily soluble in alcohol which can be a problem if they were part of the formula for a fine fragrance. These waxes still have some odor value and we are looking for ways to use them in some product form instead of discarding them as trash.


A family based on warm, opulent or dry woods, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Gaiac wood, Oakmoss.