Talk the Talk: The Basics of Perfume Terminology

Talk the Talk: The Basics of Perfume Terminology

Perfume brings out your personality, gives you a boost of confidence, and when chosen correctly, leaves an impression on those you come into contact with. In today's digital world, more and more people buy their perfumes online, without ever having smelled them. The best way to ensure you get a scent you love is to familiarize yourself with perfume terminology.

Types of Fragrances

The first important terms you are related to the types of fragrances out there. 

Eau de parfum is what most people think of as perfume. It has a 15 to 20 percent concentration of fragrance, which means it can last between six and eight hours. 

Eau de toilette is more like a body spray to refresh every so often. Normally, they contain up to a 15 percent concentration of scent mixed with water or alcohol. This is why the fragrance doesn’t last as long, usually three to four hours.

Cologne is the lightest concentration of scent, measuring in at two to four percent, and lasts a couple of hours on the skin.

Notes and Layers

Every perfume consists of several layers of ingredients and scents that evoke a positive experience response in your brain. This combination of layers explains why perfume smells different later on in the day than when you first apply it. In perfume terminology, these are notes.

Top Notes

These are the first fragrances you smell, or the first impression of the perfume. They are potent at first but slowly fade out. Top notes are lighter scents, like citrus.

Heart Notes or Middle Notes

These are the middle scents, the ones that give a perfume its signature smell. They last an hour or two after applying the perfume. These tend to be fruity or floral smells. 

Base Notes

The base notes are deep, heavy, and last the longest. Common base note ingredients include cedarwood, vetiver, vanilla, patchouli, and sandalwood. These are the scents that mix the most with your skin and natural oils.

Fragrance Families

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of scent combinations, but they can generally be categorized. In perfume terminology, these categories are called fragrance families.


Gourmand scents consist of edible notes. For example, scents like caramel, honey, peach, cherry, chocolate or coffee.


One way to describe chypre would be mossy. Common fragrances that fall into this category are patchouli and bergamot.


Exotic and rich, typical amber scents include cinnamon and cardamom. Many also describe them as spicy, sweet, and peppery.


Citrus and other zesty, light notes make up the fresh scent category.


Wood scents are very popular in perfumes and colognes. They are earthy and moody. Some common woody fragrances include sandalwood, pine, cedar, vetiver, and patchouli.


This fragrance family is self-explanatory. Floral scents are making a comeback with scents like jasmine, rose, peony, and lily-of-the-valley.

Perfume Selection

When choosing a perfume online, look for a scent description to get an idea of what top, middle, and bottom notes comprise each fragrance. For an extensive selection of high-concentration, brand-name perfumes, visit LaBelle Perfumes today.



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