Mastering Fragrance Vocabulary: Terms Every Reviewer Should Know

by leandro manuel guevarra on Mar 15, 2024

Mastering Fragrance Vocabulary: Terms Every Reviewer Should Know

Welcome to the wonderful world of fragrances! Have you ever struggled to find the right words to describe a perfume like vanilla perfume or cologne? Well, fear not! In this blog, we'll provide you with a primer on essential fragrance terminology, helping you to better understand and articulate your scent experiences. Whether you're a fragrance enthusiast or just starting your journey, mastering these vocabulary terms will take your fragrance reviewing skills to the next level. Get ready to expand your olfactory vocabulary!

fragrance vocabulary



  • Let's start with the basics. In fragrance terminology, "notes" refer to the individual scents that make up a perfume or cologne. Just like musical notes in a song or flavors in a recipe, fragrance notes are the building blocks of scent. There are three main types of fragrance notes: top, middle, and base.
    • Top Notes: Also known as "head notes," these are the initial scents you smell when you first apply a fragrance. They're usually light, fresh, and fleeting, evaporating quickly after application. Common top notes include citrus fruits, herbs, and green notes.
    • Middle Notes: Also known as "heart notes," these emerge once the top notes have faded away, usually after about 10 to 30 minutes. Middle notes are the heart and soul of a fragrance, adding depth, richness, and complexity. Common middle notes include floral, fruity, and spicy scents.
    • Base Notes: These are the final layer of a fragrance, providing a solid foundation and lingering on the skin for hours. Base notes are deep, rich, and long-lasting, anchoring the fragrance and giving it its staying power. Common base notes include woody, musky, and oriental scents.


  • Accords are like the melody in a song—they're harmonious blends of different fragrance notes that come together to create a distinct and cohesive scent profile. Accords serve as the framework around which a fragrance is constructed, guiding the development of the top, middle, and base notes. Common fragrance accords include floral, citrus, woody, oriental, and gourmand.


  • Sillage refers to the trail or "wake" of scent that a fragrance leaves behind as you move. It's a measure of a fragrance's projection and longevity, indicating how far the scent spreads and how long it lingers in the air. Fragrances with strong sillage leave a noticeable scent trail, while those with weak sillage stay closer to the skin.


  • Longevity refers to how long a fragrance lasts on the skin after application. Some fragrances fade away quickly, while others linger for hours or even days. Longevity is influenced by factors such as the concentration of fragrance oils, the quality of ingredients, and individual skin chemistry. Fragrances with good longevity are often prized by enthusiasts for their staying power.

Dry Down:

  • The dry down refers to the final stage of a fragrance's development, after the top and middle notes have dissipated and the base notes remain. During the dry down, the fragrance settles into its true character, revealing its long-lasting base notes. This stage is often considered the true test of a fragrance's composition, as it allows you to experience the full complexity and depth of the scent.


  • Projection, also known as "scent throw," refers to how far a fragrance projects from the skin. Fragrances with strong projection fill a room with their scent, while those with weak projection stay closer to the body. Projection is influenced by factors such as the concentration of fragrance oils, the type of ingredients used, and individual skin chemistry.


Congratulations! You've learned some essential fragrance terminology that every reviewer should know. From understanding the different fragrance notes to mastering terms like sillage, longevity, and projection, you're now equipped to better articulate your scent experiences and communicate them to others. So, the next time you're reviewing a perfume or cologne, put your newfound vocabulary to use and impress your friends with your fragrance knowledge. Happy scent exploring!

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