Perfumes Perfumes & Colognes For Him

The Fragrance Vocabulary

Most people appreciate a good fragrance, but very few truly can describe it accurately. Scent has a language and vocabulary all its own. However, it’s a vocabulary that’s crucial to understand as you delve into the world of perfume. Having the right words helps you appreciate and express the nuances of the art of fragrances.

To help you in your search for the best perfume or cologne, we’ve covered the commonly used terms every fragrance aficionado should know – from ambergris to ylang-ylang!

Fragrance notes

Fragrance notes are scent compounds used to make up the perfume or cologne and can range from flower to synthetically created molecules. These are usually grouped into the key fragrance families below.

 

4 Fragrance Families

Floral Fragrance Family

The floral fragrance family is the largest and most popular women’s fragrance family and gaining popularity in men’s fragrances as well. They can be either focus on a single flower, or have a bouquet of harmonious flower scents.

Common Floral Notes: Roses, jasmine, lily, frangipani, geranium, iris, patchouli

Examples of Floral Fragrances

Personal Pick
Versace Bright Crystal Eau de Toilette Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
Chloe New for Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5-Ounces
Diorissimo By Christian Dior For Women. Eau De Toilette Spray 3.4 Oz
Burberry  Brit Eau De Parfum Spray, 3.3 Fluid Ounce
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau De Parfum Spray 100ml/3.4oz
Versace Bright Crystal Eau de Toilette Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
Chloe New for Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5-Ounces
Diorissimo By Christian Dior For Women. Eau De Toilette Spray 3.4 Oz
Burberry Brit Eau De Parfum Spray, 3.3 Fluid Ounce
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau De Parfum Spray 100ml/3.4oz
Notes
A fresh, light and sensual blend of pomegranate and refreshing chilled yuzu mingled with soothing blossoms of magnolia, lotus flower, and peony, warmed with notes of amber and musk
A rather non-traditional blend of rose, magnolia, lily of the valley, amber and cedar wood base.
A refreshing and pure scent of ylang-ylang and lily-of-the-valley, the heart is a blend of amaryllis and boronia, with a jasmine trail.
A modern feminine scent with top notes of pear and lime,blended with soft floral notes of lush white peony and sweetened with sugary almond leaving a delicious vanilla finish.
Hints of centifolia rose, freesia,osmanthus and sambac jasmine, supported by a base scent of patchouli in the background.
Intensity
Light
Light
Light
Light
Heavy
Size
1oz, 1.7oz, 3oz, 6.7oz
1oz, 2.5oz
1.7oz, 3.4oz
1.0oz, 1.7oz, 3.4oz
0.24oz, 1.7oz, 3.4oz
Type
EDT
EDP
EDT
EDT
EDP
$49.49
$63.50
$95.85
$104.00
$118.00
Personal Pick
Versace Bright Crystal Eau de Toilette Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
Versace Bright Crystal Eau de Toilette Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
Notes
A fresh, light and sensual blend of pomegranate and refreshing chilled yuzu mingled with soothing blossoms of magnolia, lotus flower, and peony, warmed with notes of amber and musk
Intensity
Light
Size
1oz, 1.7oz, 3oz, 6.7oz
Type
EDT
$49.49
Chloe New for Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5-Ounces
Chloe New for Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5-Ounces
Notes
A rather non-traditional blend of rose, magnolia, lily of the valley, amber and cedar wood base.
Intensity
Light
Size
1oz, 2.5oz
Type
EDP
$63.50
Diorissimo By Christian Dior For Women. Eau De Toilette Spray 3.4 Oz
Diorissimo By Christian Dior For Women. Eau De Toilette Spray 3.4 Oz
Notes
A refreshing and pure scent of ylang-ylang and lily-of-the-valley, the heart is a blend of amaryllis and boronia, with a jasmine trail.
Intensity
Light
Size
1.7oz, 3.4oz
Type
EDT
$95.85
Burberry  Brit Eau De Parfum Spray, 3.3 Fluid Ounce
Burberry Brit Eau De Parfum Spray, 3.3 Fluid Ounce
Notes
A modern feminine scent with top notes of pear and lime,blended with soft floral notes of lush white peony and sweetened with sugary almond leaving a delicious vanilla finish.
Intensity
Light
Size
1.0oz, 1.7oz, 3.4oz
Type
EDT
$104.00
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau De Parfum Spray 100ml/3.4oz
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau De Parfum Spray 100ml/3.4oz
Notes
Hints of centifolia rose, freesia,osmanthus and sambac jasmine, supported by a base scent of patchouli in the background.
Intensity
Heavy
Size
0.24oz, 1.7oz, 3.4oz
Type
EDP
$118.00

anise-aromatic-cardomom-1590140

Oriental Fragrance Family

Oriental fragrances are the seductive end of the fragrance chart. Based on rich and exotic spices, these are warm, sensual fragrances. They can range from powdery to dry and are spicy, sometimes even gourmand. These aren’t fragrances for the meek. Bold and heady, they are often popular for evening or winter fragrances for men.

Common Oriental Notes: Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Myrrh, Anise, Cloves

Examples of Oriental Fragrances:

Personal Pick
ORGANZA by Givenchy - Eau De Parfum Spray 3.3 oz For Women
OPIUM For Women By YVES SAINT LAURENT Eau de Toilette Spray 3 oz
Guerlain Shalimar Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
La Vie Est Belle By Lancome 1.7 oz Eau De Parfum Spray for Women
Christian Dior J'Adore Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
ORGANZA by Givenchy - Eau De Parfum Spray 3.3 oz For Women
OPIUM For Women By YVES SAINT LAURENT Eau de Toilette Spray 3 oz
Guerlain Shalimar Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
La Vie Est Belle By Lancome 1.7 oz Eau De Parfum Spray for Women
Christian Dior J'Adore Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Notes
Warm and sweet oriental floral, with top notes blends of gardenia, iris, honeysuckle and base notes of amber and vanilla.
Rich, exotic fragrance of mandarin florals and coriander blend, with a cocktail of sandalwood and incense.
Classic, alluring fragrance of citrus notes, exotic florals, vanilla and gray amber.
Composition of iris, being the key ingredient, surrounded by fruity flavours of orange blossoms, blackcurrant, pear and jasmine in the heart.
Glamorous, modern fragrance with floral orchids, rose and violets, leaving a musk and blackberry trail.
Intensity
Light
Medium
Heavy
Light
Medium
Size
1oz, 1.7oz, 3.3oz
3.3oz, 1oz, 1.6 oz, 3oz
3 oz
3.3oz
3.4oz
Type
EDP
EDT
EDP
EDP
EDP
$65.50
$71.00
$48.94
$69.22
$116.58
Personal Pick
ORGANZA by Givenchy - Eau De Parfum Spray 3.3 oz For Women
ORGANZA by Givenchy - Eau De Parfum Spray 3.3 oz For Women
Notes
Warm and sweet oriental floral, with top notes blends of gardenia, iris, honeysuckle and base notes of amber and vanilla.
Intensity
Light
Size
1oz, 1.7oz, 3.3oz
Type
EDP
$65.50
OPIUM For Women By YVES SAINT LAURENT Eau de Toilette Spray 3 oz
OPIUM For Women By YVES SAINT LAURENT Eau de Toilette Spray 3 oz
Notes
Rich, exotic fragrance of mandarin florals and coriander blend, with a cocktail of sandalwood and incense.
Intensity
Medium
Size
3.3oz, 1oz, 1.6 oz, 3oz
Type
EDT
$71.00
Guerlain Shalimar Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
Guerlain Shalimar Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3 Ounce
Notes
Classic, alluring fragrance of citrus notes, exotic florals, vanilla and gray amber.
Intensity
Heavy
Size
3 oz
Type
EDP
$48.94
La Vie Est Belle By Lancome 1.7 oz Eau De Parfum Spray for Women
La Vie Est Belle By Lancome 1.7 oz Eau De Parfum Spray for Women
Notes
Composition of iris, being the key ingredient, surrounded by fruity flavours of orange blossoms, blackcurrant, pear and jasmine in the heart.
Intensity
Light
Size
3.3oz
Type
EDP
$69.22
Christian Dior J'Adore Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Christian Dior J'Adore Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Notes
Glamorous, modern fragrance with floral orchids, rose and violets, leaving a musk and blackberry trail.
Intensity
Medium
Size
3.4oz
Type
EDP
$116.58

forest-grass-nature-158251

Woody Fragrance Family

If floral fragrances are the go-to standard for women’s perfumes, woody fragrances are the most popular base for men’s colognes. There’s a wide range of scents with patchouli and sandalwood being good examples of warmer woods. Cedar and vetiver are good for a drier cologne. Woods are frequently paired with other aromatic headnotes to create more complexity — for example, citrus or chypre.

Common Woody Notes: Sandalwood, Oakwood, cedar, vetiver, patchouli, pine

Examples of Oriental Fragrances:

Personal Pick
Giorgio Armani Si Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Mitsouko by Guerlain 75ml 2.5oz EDP Spray
Knowing By Estee Lauder For Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5 oz
Hypnotic Poison by Christian Dior for Women 3.4 oz Eau de Toilette Spray
Bottega Veneta Bottega Veneta Eau De Parfum Spray, 1.7 Ounce
Giorgio Armani Si Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Mitsouko by Guerlain 75ml 2.5oz EDP Spray
Knowing By Estee Lauder For Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5 oz
Hypnotic Poison by Christian Dior for Women 3.4 oz Eau de Toilette Spray
Bottega Veneta Bottega Veneta Eau De Parfum Spray, 1.7 Ounce
Notes
Modern chypre scent with top notes of sicilian bergamot, blackcurrant, mandarin &liquer de cassis; Base notes of blond woods, amber, vanilla, patchouli and musky orcanox.
Mysterious, exotic scent made up of warm spicy notes of ripe peach, rose and cinnamon, blended with blended with powdery notes of jasmine and soft mosses.
Elegant scent with a blend of rose, jasmine, mimosa,oakmoss, spicy clove, amber and sandalwood.
Femme-fatale scent which is warm, sexy and sweet; made up of strong scents of jasmine, with lower tones of amber, sugary almond and woods.
Sensual chypre scent with top notes of bergamot, plum, jasmine, patchouli, oak moss and pink peppercorn.
Intensity
Light
Heavy
Medium
Medium
Light
Size
3.4oz
2.5oz
1oz, 2.5oz
1.7oz, 3.4oz
1.7oz, 2.5oz
Type
EDP
EDP
EDP
EDT
EDP
$83.50
$33.02
$49.17
from $82.68
$94.99
Personal Pick
Giorgio Armani Si Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Giorgio Armani Si Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Ounce
Notes
Modern chypre scent with top notes of sicilian bergamot, blackcurrant, mandarin &liquer de cassis; Base notes of blond woods, amber, vanilla, patchouli and musky orcanox.
Intensity
Light
Size
3.4oz
Type
EDP
$83.50
Mitsouko by Guerlain 75ml 2.5oz EDP Spray
Mitsouko by Guerlain 75ml 2.5oz EDP Spray
Notes
Mysterious, exotic scent made up of warm spicy notes of ripe peach, rose and cinnamon, blended with blended with powdery notes of jasmine and soft mosses.
Intensity
Heavy
Size
2.5oz
Type
EDP
$33.02
Knowing By Estee Lauder For Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5 oz
Knowing By Estee Lauder For Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 2.5 oz
Notes
Elegant scent with a blend of rose, jasmine, mimosa,oakmoss, spicy clove, amber and sandalwood.
Intensity
Medium
Size
1oz, 2.5oz
Type
EDP
$49.17
Hypnotic Poison by Christian Dior for Women 3.4 oz Eau de Toilette Spray
Hypnotic Poison by Christian Dior for Women 3.4 oz Eau de Toilette Spray
Notes
Femme-fatale scent which is warm, sexy and sweet; made up of strong scents of jasmine, with lower tones of amber, sugary almond and woods.
Intensity
Medium
Size
1.7oz, 3.4oz
Type
EDT
from $82.68
Bottega Veneta Bottega Veneta Eau De Parfum Spray, 1.7 Ounce
Bottega Veneta Bottega Veneta Eau De Parfum Spray, 1.7 Ounce
Notes
Sensual chypre scent with top notes of bergamot, plum, jasmine, patchouli, oak moss and pink peppercorn.
Intensity
Light
Size
1.7oz, 2.5oz
Type
EDP
$94.99

blur-close-up-cut-1022926
Fresh Fragrance Family

The fresh fragrance family is probably the most varied and least well-defined. It ranges from fruity, green, aquatic, citrus and aromatic. As you can tell, unlike the other categories, it’s not based on one defining characteristic but rather fresh, lively, organic scents, these tend to be popular in summer fragrances but not exclusively.

Common Fruity Notes: Peaches, pears, apples, guava, mango, passion fruit

Common Green Notes: Green leaves, tea leaves, fresh cut grass

Common Aquatic Notes: Marine, Calone, Seawood, driftwood

Common Citrus Notes: Lemon, Neroli, Mandarine, Lime, Bergamot, Grapefruit

Common Aromatic Notes: Thyme, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Sage

Examples of Fresh Fragrances:

Personal Pick
Cool Water By Davidoff For Women Edt Spray 6.7 Oz
Be Delicious by Donna Karan for Women, 3.4 Oz
Calvin Klein ck one Eau de Toilette, 3.4 Fl Oz
Prada Infusion D'Iris Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 1 Ounce
Un Jardin Sur Le Nil By Hermes For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce Bottle
Cool Water By Davidoff For Women Edt Spray 6.7 Oz
Be Delicious by Donna Karan for Women, 3.4 Oz
Calvin Klein ck one Eau de Toilette, 3.4 Fl Oz
Prada Infusion D'Iris Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 1 Ounce
Un Jardin Sur Le Nil By Hermes For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce Bottle
Notes
Aquatic, cool and luscious notes of ocean air blended with citrus, pineapple, and woody notes leaves you smelling as fresh and light as the ocean breeze.
Summery scent with notes of cucumber, american apple, grapefruit, candid magnolia, rose, tuberose, white muguet, violet, sandalwood, white amber, tender skin accord, and blonde woods.
Fresh smelling unisex perfume made of pineapple, green notes, papaya, mandarin orange, cardamom, bergamot and lemon heart.
Fresh and clean floral scent made from a blend of mandarin orange, frankincense, lentisk, orange blossom, iris, cedar, vetiver, benzoin, galbanum.
Gentle, clean fragrance with a blend of green mango, lotus, grapefruit, sycamore,calamus and incense.
Intensity
Light
Light
Light
Light
Light
Size
0.17oz, 1.7oz, 3.4oz
3.4oz
1.7oz, 3.4oz, 6.7oz
1.7oz, 3.3oz
1.6oz, 3.3oz
Type
EDT
EDP
EDT
EDP
EDT
$34.98
$32.00
$64.00
$62.25
$69.00
Personal Pick
Cool Water By Davidoff For Women Edt Spray 6.7 Oz
Cool Water By Davidoff For Women Edt Spray 6.7 Oz
Notes
Aquatic, cool and luscious notes of ocean air blended with citrus, pineapple, and woody notes leaves you smelling as fresh and light as the ocean breeze.
Intensity
Light
Size
0.17oz, 1.7oz, 3.4oz
Type
EDT
$34.98
Be Delicious by Donna Karan for Women, 3.4 Oz
Be Delicious by Donna Karan for Women, 3.4 Oz
Notes
Summery scent with notes of cucumber, american apple, grapefruit, candid magnolia, rose, tuberose, white muguet, violet, sandalwood, white amber, tender skin accord, and blonde woods.
Intensity
Light
Size
3.4oz
Type
EDP
$32.00
Calvin Klein ck one Eau de Toilette, 3.4 Fl Oz
Calvin Klein ck one Eau de Toilette, 3.4 Fl Oz
Notes
Fresh smelling unisex perfume made of pineapple, green notes, papaya, mandarin orange, cardamom, bergamot and lemon heart.
Intensity
Light
Size
1.7oz, 3.4oz, 6.7oz
Type
EDT
$64.00
Prada Infusion D'Iris Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 1 Ounce
Prada Infusion D'Iris Eau De Parfum Spray for Women, 1 Ounce
Notes
Fresh and clean floral scent made from a blend of mandarin orange, frankincense, lentisk, orange blossom, iris, cedar, vetiver, benzoin, galbanum.
Intensity
Light
Size
1.7oz, 3.3oz
Type
EDP
$62.25
Un Jardin Sur Le Nil By Hermes For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce Bottle
Un Jardin Sur Le Nil By Hermes For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce Bottle
Notes
Gentle, clean fragrance with a blend of green mango, lotus, grapefruit, sycamore,calamus and incense.
Intensity
Light
Size
1.6oz, 3.3oz
Type
EDT
$69.00

 

aromatherapy-aromatic-bottle-932577
Fragrance Notes Dictionary

Absinthe – Is a potent green aniseed-flavored liquor made with the shrub of wormwood. It smells like licorice, slightly dry, bitter and medicinal.

Algae – Is a kind of seaweed which smells like a blend of seawater and fresh leaves.

Amber– Is an aromatic resin produced by forest trees and smells like warm caramel.

Animalic – Refers to animal-derived notes which smell primal and seductive.

Aquatic/Water Notes – Refers to the smell of an ocean breeze that is a blend of fresh, dewy, and salty air.

Bergamot – Is a tree of the orange family which gives a citrusy scent that is crisp, refreshing but slightly herbal.

Cardamom – Is a kind of spice made from aromatic seeds of a plant from the ginger family which smells slightly earthy, minty and sweet.

Cedar – Refers to a type of timber with smells like fragrant wood.

Civet – Is a nocturnal mammal of the cat family found in parts of Asia and Africa. This animal produces a pungent scent in its anal glands which can be extracted to give a sultry, musky and warm scent.

Clover – Is a plant in the pea family which smells of freshly cut grass.

Cypress– Is a kind of coniferous tree like pine or fir which smells like the forest, green and woody.

Daffodil – Is a kind of flower that is usually yellow which smells like spring. Fresh and sweet.

Driftwood – Refers to wooden pieces which have been washed ashore. Hence it smells like a blend of dry wood and seawater.

Frankincense – Is an aromatic gum resin of the Boswellia tree which is usually burned as incense. Hence it smells smokey and woody but is also slightly sweet and citrusy.

Freesia – Is a floral African plant of the Iris family which is fragrant, green and slightly peppery.

Green Tea – Refers to unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant which is pale in color, slightly bitter and smells earthy.

Herbal – Refers to the smell of herbs like basil, rosemary, tarragon.

Honeysuckle – Is a kind of shrub which smells like spring and sweet florals.

Incense – Quite similar to frankincense, it is smoky, slightly sweet, deep and rich.

Lily-of-the-Valley – Is a kind of flower of the lily family which smells fresh, sweet and dewy.

Metallic Notes – Refers to the scent produced by metal or minerals which smell slightly earthy, cool, clean and sharp.

Musk – Refers to glandular secretions of the male musk deer which smells sensual, warm, rich, deep and slightly animalic.

Neroli – Is an essential oil from orange peel which smells fresh and citrusy, but can be slightly bitter.

Oak Moss– Is a kind of fungus found on the floors of mountainous damp forests which smells earthy and can be slightly bitter.

Patchouli – Is a bushy herb of the mint family which smells sweet but earthy and can be slightly pungent.

Saffron – Is a kind of reddish-purple flower native to Eurasia which smells leathery, warm, rich and intimate.

Sage – Is a kind of herb which smells hazy, woody and slightly peppery.

Sandalwood – Refers to a kind of timber from the Santalum tree which gives off a woody, warm and earthy scent.

Tonka Bean – Is a black seed of a South American tree which has a vanilla-like scent but is slightly nutty.

Vetiver– Is an essential oil extracted from the root of Indian grass, giving it its slightly musty, woody and earthy scent.

Wisteria – Is a climbing shrub of the pea family with blue-ish flowers which smells sweet and rich, but can be slightly spicy.

Ylang-Ylang – Is a kind of flower native to the South East Asia region. It is a tropical plant which smells sweet, fragrant and slightly fruity.

Yuzu – Is a citrus fruit from Japan which smells like a blend of sweet, sour and floral notes.

 

Top notes, Middle notes, Base notes

Just like how a combination of musical notes make up a song, fragrance notes are blended into 3 note scales to create the perfume’s or cologne’s fragrant accord. The purpose of each level if explained below:

top-middle-base-notes

 

Top Notes

Top notes are sometimes referred to as an opening, or headnotes and consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. The top notes represent a fragrance’s first impression. Citrus, berries, lavender, and ginger are common top notes.

Middle Notes

Middle notes or heart notes are considered the heart of the fragrance which appears after the top notes evaporate. The scent in a fragrance’s heart is usually pleasant and ‘rounded’ and lasts anywhere between two minutes and one hour after application. Common middle notes include rose, lavender, ylang-ylang, nutmeg, and jasmine.

Base Notes

Base notes or the dry down mingle with the middle notes to bring depth and solidity to a fragrance. It consists of large, heavy molecules that evaporate slowly and is typically associated with the dry-down period. Base notes are usually deep and rich and provide a lasting impression. Common base notes include sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, and musk.

 

Concentrations and Longevity

How much essential oil is included in a fragrance also has an effect on the potency of the scent, sillage, longevity, and price. Here are some of the most common classifications. Note that sillage and longevity are also based on a number of factors such as what essential oils were included, temperature, etc. This guide is only a rule of thumb. Your mileage may vary

fragrance notes period of evaporation

 

After Shaves or Splashes: 0-1% Concentration, lasts up to 1 hour

Eau Fraiche: 1-3% Concentration, lasts up to 3 hours

Eau de Cologne (EDC): 2-4 Concentration, lasts 3-4 hours

Eau de Toilette (EDT): 5-15% Concentration, lasts 4-6 hours

Eau de Parum (EDP): 15-20% Concentration, last 6-8 hours

Perfume (Parum) Extrait: 20-30% Concentration, lasts up to 12+ hours

 

Hopefully, you’ll now be able to navigate the perfume or cologne aisles like a pro!