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A

Abelmosk

- Also known as musk mallow. Cultivated for its seeds which are referred to as ambrette

Absinthe

- Absinthe is a strong herbal liqueur distilled with herbs like anise, licorice, hyssop, veronica, fennel, lemon balm, angelica and wormwood.

Absolute

- Also known as an essence. An absolute is the most potent aromatic product made from a base product. It differs from an essential oil in that it’s produced through an extraction process that uses volatile solvents. The extracted solid material is then combined with alcohol to produce the absolute. Absolutes are also darker in color than essential oils.

Accord

- An accord is a blend of two or three fragrances to produce a third unique fragrance, with none of the original fragrances being detectable. When you smell an accord, you only smell one distinct fragrance, not the original fragrances that were combined.

Agar wood

- From the Aquilaria tree, and also called oud or aloes wood. When attacked by a fungus, the tree produces an aromatic resin that has long been used in the Middle East as a source of incense and perfume. Now considered endangered in the wild due to overharvesting.

Alcohol

- Alcohol is used in the process of making perfume. It’s job is to carry the perfume extracts and release them when the perfume is dispensed.

Aldehyde

- An aldehyde is a highly-reactive chemical compound made by oxidizing different alcohols to make resins and organic acids

Aldehydic

- Aldehydic comes from the Greek phrase “anointing oil”. In perfumery, it refers to a certain fatty fragrance, and can be found in perfumes such as Chanel No 5.

Amber

- Fir tree resin, in its regular, non-fossilised form is used in perfumery and offers a rather sweet, warm and deep, sensuous smell that serves as a base to anchor the other ingredients that are place on top of this less volatile ingredient. Amber is also a general term – according to the French system – to describe the perfumes that fall in the Oriental group and have a warm, slightly powdery, erotic, animalic tonality to them.

Ambergris

- A sperm whale secretion. Sperm whales produce it to protect their stomachs from the beaks of the cuttlefish they swallow. Ambergris was traditionally used as a fixative, but in modern perfumery, ambergris is usually of synthetic origin. Ambergris is described as having a sweet, woody odor. Most commercial perfumes today use a synthetic replacement because it is so expensive.

Ambrette

- The oil obtained from these seeds has a musk-like odor and is frequently used as a substitute for true musk.

Animalic

- Refers to animal-derived ingredients such as civet, ambergris, musk, and castoreum. These are usually replaced by synthetics in modern perfumery. In large amounts, many of these notes are unpleasant, but in smaller amounts they provide depth and a sensual feel to a fragrance.

Anise

- An annual herb of the parsley family, grown for its fruits (aniseed), which have a strong, licorice-like flavor.

Apocrine sweat glands

- These glands give you your unique sexual and body scent. It can interfere with or influence the fragrance in perfumes you wear.

Aquatic

- Mostly synthetics that provide the watery notes in a perfume. There are also natural ingredients such as bamboo and algae that may yield a watery note, however the smell is mostly recreated in the laboratory.

Aromatic

- Refers to the rich scents of balsamic notes.

Attar

- An extremely expensive essential oil made from the Bulgarian rose.

B

Baies de Geničvre

- French for juniper berry.

Balsam

- Balsam is a sticky resin that leaks out of trees when they’re cut. It’s used in perfume to create a woody scent.

Balsamic

- Balsamic notes are found in some perfumes. They have a warm scent, and are popular in the Oriental group of fragrances, like Shalimar, Opium and Obsession.

Benzoin

- A balsamic resin from the styrax tree.

Bergamot

- The tangy oil expressed from the nearly ripe bergamot orange (a variety of bitter orange). The oranges are grown mostly in Italy.

Bigarade

- A variety of bitter orange, also known as the Seville orange. The zest is used to make the bigarade note used in perfumery.

Body

- Body is a term used to refer to the main theme or heart of a perfume. It can also be used to refer to a perfume that’s well-rounded or full.

Bouquet

- A term used to describe a mixture of floral notes.

C

Cannelle

- French for cinnamon.

Cashmeran

- An aroma chemical with a spicy, musky, floral odor. Meant to add a powdery, velvet nuance that invokes the smell or feel of cashmere.

Cassie

- Flower from the sweet acacia, a member of the mimosa family.

Cassis

- Black currant, or a liqueur made from black currant.

Castoreum

- A secretion from the Castor beaver, or a synthetic substitute. Used to impart a leathery aroma to a fragrance.

Cedrat

- French term for citron.

Champaca

- A flowering tree of the magnolia family, originally found in India. Traditionally used in Indian incense as well (see nag champa).

Chypre

- Chypre is an ancient perfume, originally combining fresh citrus notes with oakmoss and some animalic notes. The Romans used to produce a perfume in Cyprus, the Greek Island; Cyprus in French is Chypre. It contained storax, labdanum and calamus and smelled heavy and Oriental. It continued to be manufactured throughout the Middle Ages in Italy and then in France, with oakmoss at its base. About 100 years ago, Coty made his famous Chypre fragrance in 1917 that was based on the contrast of a citrusy top note and the pungent, earthy oakmoss base note. The main ingredients of a Chypre are oakmoss, patchouli, labdanum or clary sage, with the addition of floral middle notes such as rose-jasmine and a bright sweet top note of bergamot or lemon. In order to qualify as a classic chypre, the basic cord must always be bergamot-oakmoss-labdanum. Today, however, many “modern” chypres do not share this accord and are classed as “mossy woods” in the Michael Edwards system. Pronounced: sheep-ra.

Citrus

- Citrus notes are fresh scents, similar to the smell of fresh oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bergamot and pomello.

Citron

- Citron is a citrus fruit tree sometimes referred to as a cedrat lemon. It is not a true lemon, although it is related to both lemons and limes. The peel is the source of the note citron which is used in perfumery; the leaves and twigs are used to distill cedrat petitgrain.

Civet

- The african civet cat looks like a fox, and is related to the mongoose. Civet musk is produced by a gland at the base of the cat's tail. Pure civet is said to have a strong, disagreeable odor, but in small quantities to add depth and warmth to a fragrance and a sweaty/musky note that is considered very erotic and pairs extremely well with floral notes.. In addition, civet acts as an excellent fixative. Most modern fragrances use synthetic substitutes.

Clary Sage

- Herb of the Salvia family; the essential oil is described as smelling sweet to bittersweet, with nuances of amber, hay and tobacco.

Classic

- Classic fragrances are those that have survived the years and remain popular. They have depth, with a 3-10% floral absolute, much stronger than most modern fragrances.

Clou de girofle

- French for clove.

Cologne

- Cologne is a city in Germany where the very first modern perfume, as we now know it, was produced. That was about 300 years ago, and it was called Eau de Cologne – a perfume made basically from citrus oils. Today, cologne is a word usually used to describe men’s fragrances.

Copahu (balm)

- Also called Copaiba balsam; an oil obtained from trees of family Copaifera, which grow wild in South America. It is described as having a mild, sweet, balsamic peppery smell.

Coumarin

- A compound that smells like vanilla. Usually derived from the tonka bean, but also found in lavender, sweetgrass and other plants.

D

Dry down

- Dry down is what perfumers refer to as the final phase of a fragrance. It’s sometimes referred to as the bottom note – the character of the fragrance that remains a few hours after applying the perfume.

E

Eau de Cologne (EDC)

- Eau de Cologne is the term used today to refer to a perfume solution with around a 3% compound in an oil and water base. It’s the lightest of perfumes.

Eau de Parfum (EDP)

- Eau de Parfum is a perfume solution with a 10-15% compound.

Eau de Toilette (EDT)

- Eau de Toilette is a perfume solution with a 3-8% compound in an oil and water base.

Earthy

- Earthy is a term used by perfumers to describe notes that resemble earth, dirt, moss, and other scents.

Extract (or Extrait)

- An extract is a perfume that has 15-45% compound in an alcohol base.

F

Floral

- A fragrance scent that resembles flowers, and is usually described as smooth or natural.

Flowery

- Flowery is a fragrance with flower or flower petal notes.

Forest blends

- Forest blend perfumes have earthy, woodsy, natural notes.

Fougere

- One of the fragrance families; this one named after the French word for fern. Mostly men’s scents fall into this category that also uses herbs such as rosemary, mint, sage and plant essences such as cucumber or woodland smells. Pronounced: foozh-air

Frangipani

- A tropical flower, also known plumeria, and is frequently used to make leis.

Frankincense

- A gum resin from a tree found in Arabia and Eastern Africa. Also called olibanum.

G

Galbanum

- A gum resin that imparts a "green" smell.

Gourmand

- Describes fragrances which evoke food smells, such as chocolate, honey, or fruits.

Guaiac (or Gaiac) Wood

- A South American tree that produces the hardest, densest wood known.

Green

- Green is a fragrance note that resembles freshly cut grass or leaves, and it gives the perfume a vibrant scent.

H

Heady

- Heady fragrances make you feel light-headed, exhilarated or stimulated

Heart

- Heart refers to the main theme, or the middle of the perfume

Heliotrope

- Flowers of the family heliotropium which are said to have a strong, sweet vanilla-like fragrance with undertones of almond.

Herbaceous

- Herbaceous refers to a fragrance that’s natural and hay-like, maybe even a little therapeutic. Some examples are chamomile, lavender, rosemary and sage.

Hesperidia

- A general term for citrus oils

I

J

Jasmine

- Jasmine is an absolute used in perfume. There are two kinds – European and South Asian.

K

Karo Karounde

- A flowering shrub from Africa. Its scent has been described as somewhat similar to jasmine, but woodier, spicier and more herbal.

L

Labdanum

- An aromatic gum that originates from the rockrose bush. The sweet woody odor is said to mimic ambergris and can also be used to impart a leather note.

Linden

- The flower of the linden tree; the French name is tilleul.

M

Middle notes

- The middle notes are the fragrances that make up the main theme or the heart of a perfume. They usually appear about 10-20 minutes after the perfume is applied.

Modern

- A modern perfume would be the opposite of a classic perfume – usually using new aroma chemicals, rather than natural materials. It usually has a light fragrance.

Monoi

- The word means "scented oil". In modern perfumery, this most always refers to tiare (gardenia) petals macerated in coconut oil.

Mossy

- Mossy refers to fragrances that have earthy notes, like the forest floor.

Muguet

- The French word for lily of the valley, one of the most popular florals used in perfumery. The Italian term is "mughetto".

Musk

- Coming from a glandular secretion of the male Tibetan musk deer, this was considered an aphrodisiac in the past. The practice of extracting the musk was difficult so the deer was killed in the process and the practice nowadays is extinct. New synthetic musks have now been created.

Myrrh

- A gum resin produced from a bush found in Arabia and Eastern Africa

N

Nag Champa

- The name of a perfume oil originally made in the Hindu and Buddhist monasteries of India and Nepal and used to perfume incense. Traditionally made from a sandalwood base and include a variety of flower oils, including champaca.

Neroli

- An oil prepared from the blossoms of either the sweet or bitter orange tree. Italian term for neroli is zagara.

Nose

- A "nose", or nez in French, is a person who mixes fragrance components to make perfume. Another commonly used term is perfumer, or in French, parfumeur createur.

Note

- Note can refer to a single scent in a perfume, or it may be used to refer to one of the three stages of evaporation of a perfume, which are the top note, the middle note and the bottom note.

O

Oakmoss

- Derived from a lichen that grows on oak trees. In French it is mousse de chene.

Opoponax

- Also know as sweet myrrh. Has a sweet, balsam-like , lavender-like fragrance when used as incense.

Oriental

- Oriental is a term that, in the past, was used to describe fragrances with balsamic, vanilla, oakmoss and animalic notes, but more recently has been used to describe fragrances that are heavy and full-bodied. Some examples of oriental perfumes are Opium, Obsession, Shalimar, and Samsara.

Orris

- Derived from the rhizome of the Iris plant.

Osmanthus

- A flowering tree native to China that is valued for its delicate fruity apricot aroma.

Oud

- Sometimes spelled oudh or aoud. The Arabic word for wood. In perfumery it usually refers to wood from the agar tree.

Ozonic

- Used to describe aroma chemicals that are meant to mimic the smell of fresh air. Frequently described as the smell of air right after a thunderstorm.

P

Pamplemousse

- French for grapefruit.

Parfum

- The French word for perfume. Eau de parfum translates literally to "water of perfume" or "perfumed water."

Patchouli

- A bushy shrub originally from Malaysia and India. Supposedly the leaves were folded into the cashmere shawls shipped from India to England during Victorian times in order to protect the fabric from moths. Patchouli has a musty-sweet, spicy aroma.

Perfume

- Comes from the Latin “per fumum” which means “through smoke.” This is the highest concentration of oils, with 20-50% compound, which makes it last longer.

Perfumer

- The perfumer is a multi-use word and is used to describe a person who either creates, mixes, or sells perfume.

Petitgrain

- Oil distilled from leaves and twigs of a citrus tree, usually the bitter orange tree.

Pikaki

- A form of jasmine grown in Hawaii and used for making leis.

Pivoine

- French for peony.

Powdery

- Powdery is a word used to describe a fragrance produced by a combination of a heavy, sweet or woody note with a citrus, fruit or light green note.

Q

R

Rose

- Rose is used to describe one of the most common notes in perfumery which, of course, comes from rose petals.

Rose de Mai

- Rose absolute made from the centifolia rose.

S

Sandalwood

- An oil extracted from the heartwood of the sandal tree originally found in India. One of the oldest known perfumery ingredients, the powdered wood is also used to make incense.

Sillage

- The trail of a scent left behind when someone wearing perfume passes. (Pronounced “see yazh”). Fragrances with minimal sillage are often said to "stay close to the skin".

Soliflore

- A fragrance which focuses on a single flower.

Spicy

- Spicy describes fragrance notes that have a warm or hot character, as opposed to the neutral or cool herbal notes.

Sweet

- The sweetness of a fragrance can be described in several ways – it can be used to refer to a vanilla sweetness, a floral sweetness, or a fruity sweetness. Whichever one is used, it refers to a rich, sweet taste.

Synthetic

- Synthetic is a term that’s used to refer to a substance that’s man-made, with the specific purpose of duplicating a particular scent. Synthetics are sometimes better than natural materials because their properties can be controlled.

T

Tiare

- A variety of gardenia.

Tolu

- A tree resin from South America, which when dried is said to have a strong aroma with elements of vanilla and cinnamon.

Tonka Bean

- A thumb-size pod from a plant native to Brazil, said to smell of vanilla with strong hints of cinnamon, cloves and almonds.

Top note

- The top note of a perfume is the fragrance that you initially smell. Top notes are usually light, citrus notes.

U

V

Vanilla

- Vanilla is derived from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid, a flowering vine which is native to Mexico (although most of the vanilla available today comes from Madagascar). True vanilla requires extensive hand-processing, and is therefore expensive.

Velvety

- A velvety fragrance is smooth and mellow, without any harsh notes.

Vetiver

- A grass with heavy, fibrous roots, which are used to distill an oil with the scent of moist earth with woody undertones

W

Woody

- Woody fragrances are those that have forest notes, like freshly cut dry wood such as cedarwood and sandalwood. Web beacons are images, often embedded in code. They generally originate from a third party site to track visitor activities. The image is placed on many or all pages and is generally invisible to visitors who are not able to view the underpinning code.

X

Y

Yuzu

- A citrus fruit grown in Japan. It looks like a small grapefruit; the flavor has been described as a cross between grapefruit and mandarin orange.

Ylang Ylang

- The Malayan term for an Asian evergreen tree. Translates to "flower of flowers".

Z




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