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Perfume Lingo Explained: Your Personal Perfume Term Glossary

Perfume Lingo Explained: Your Personal Perfume Term Glossary

Róisín Lynch

Ever read a perfume description and felt like you were reading a different language? Yeah, us too.

From the various different concentrations to constant references to “notes” it’s understandable to feel a little lost.

Say hello to your personal perfume  glossary for you to refer to when you are on the search for your next new scent!

The different type of concentrations

You probably have seen fragrances with a number of different titles. Eau de toilette, Eau de parfume, etc. What is the difference between them all? The different titles refer to their different concentrations. Fragrances come in four different concentrations. Parfum, eau de perfum,  eau de toilette, and eau de cologne.  Parfum being the strongest and eau de cologne being the weakest.

The concentration is all to do with the oil to alcohol perfume ratio. The higher the concentration, the longer the scent will last on your skin – and is usually more expensive!

Parfum:  20% – 40% concentration

Eau de parfume –  15% – 20% concentration

Eau de toilette –  10% – 15% concentration

Cologne – 2% – 4% concentration


Put simply, a note is an ingredient. Ingredient is just too basic for the perfume world, got to keep it bougie! The different layers of fragrance notes make up the final overall scent of the product in the end.

The notes are split up in to three sections or elements. Top, heart and base notes.  To create a nice scented fragrance all three elements need to be used.

Top notes typically include citrus elements such as bergamot, lemon and orange zest.  Heart notes, like the name, are the heart of the fragrance. They are typically pleasant and well rounded. Scents such as rose and lemongrass are commonly used heart notes.  Base notes are often rich and smooth and are the longest lasting of the three elements. They are most evident after the top notes have evaporated. Common base notes are vanilla, patchouli and cedar wood.

The different types of notes and smell

Citrus –  Can be used to describe a perfume/fragrance that is predominantly citrus or containing citrus notes such as lemon, orange, grapefruit, and tangerine.

Woody –  notes that come from fresh cut or dry wood.  These include sandalwood, cedar wood and Oudh.

Floral –  A fragrance built using floral elements to create a fresh floral scent.  Commonly used floral notes are rose, jasmine, and iris.

See Also

Fruity – Typically blended with floral notes. Think of floral notes as the star and fruity notes as the back up singers.  There is a large variety of fruity notes. Common ones include apple, cherry, strawberry, peach.

Balsams –  Balsams are resins that are rich in oil. They have a soft scent, on occasion they can be sweet.  Examples of balsams are Peru balsam, benzoin, and tolu balsam.


Accord in the world of perfume is when two notes are blended together to create a new scent.


Pronounced “See-Yaz”. You know when you walk in to a room and get a lovely whiff of someones perfume who has just left the room? That’s sillage!


The last phase of a perfumes life cycle. Drydown refers to the final hour you can still detect the perfumes scent. Only the base notes remain at this stage.

Did you know any of these perfume terms before or were you just smiling and nodding like the rest of us?

Now that you have the lingo down find out what perfume you should be wearing based on your star sign! 

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