PER FUMUS

a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR

Terminology

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, this is the material extracted from a plant or flower using one of various solvents.

Accord – Perfume accords are a balanced blend of three or four notes which lose their individual identity to create a completely new, unified odor impression.

Aerosol – It’s the spraying and/or foaming of liquid or solid materials by propellant agents from pressurized cans.

Aftershave – Less strong, it is the most popular choice and lasts for 2 to 3 hours. Aftershaves are kinder to the skin than EDT’s. Those with very sensitive skin should use aftershave balms.

Alcohol – It’s used in the perfume industry as a solvent for the production of lotions. An often used alcohol is ethyl alcohol.

Aldehydic – It’s the term for the odor-effect produced by the use of short-chain aliphatic aldehydes. This effect can be described as fatty, watery or even “snuffed candle”. When concentrated, aldehydes are extremely powerful and pungent. Aldehydes are used in all perfume types, especially those which feature elegant feminine notes.

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.

Anosmia – The inability to smell odors. Many people have selective anosmias, for instance, total anosmia can occur as the result of injury or illness but is relatively rare and partial anosmia is a common phenomenon where people have selective insensitivity or blindness to particular materials smells or groups of smells. As for Benzyl Salicylate and Macro cyclic musks are common examples. Some people on first exposure to a new material may claim not to be able to smell it but after several exposures their ability to smell it improves.

Aqueous – It’s a recent designation for scents that are based more on a concept of a “watery” smell than an actual scent.

Aroma Chemicals – Chemicals that have a smell and/or taste and are used in perfumes or flavors. Should note be confused with the term Aromatic Chemicals that refers to the Benzene ring structure found in many organic compounds.

Aromachology – The science dedicated to the study of the interrelationship between psychology and aroma.

Aromatic – The term in perfumery refers to the rich aroma and odor of fragrances, scents and perfumes.

Aromatherapy – Therapy with aroma. It’s the art and science of using essential oils to heal common ailments and complaints. It particularly helps with stress or emotionally triggers problems such as insomnia and headaches.

Attar – A perfume created by the distillation of flowers, herbs, spices or other raw materials. It can be used in conjunction with Sandalwood oil or other materials capable of absorbing aroma. This is unique process that began in Kannauj nearly 5000 year ago.Ayurvedic – It’s the ancient Hindu art of medicine, herbs to prolong life.


Baies de Genièvre – French for juniper berry.

Base Notes – The base note is the third and last phase of a perfume’s life on the skin, or evaporation. It contains the lasting ingredients, such as woods, resins, animal and crystalline substances. In heavy perfumes (chypre and Oriental notes, for instance) the base note is so strongly accented that it is discernible in the top-note, or first impression.

Balsamic – It’s a fragrance impression that can be described as sweet, soft and warm. Basically, balsamic notes result from the use of balsams and resins in perfume compositions. The Oriental perfumes in particular are characterized by balsamic ingredients.

Balsams – Balsams are vicious secretions of plants that emerge when the plant’s outer layers are injured. Balsams do not require an extraction process prior to their being used in perfumery.

Bitter – It is the fragrance impression that corresponds to bitterness in terms of taste. It is produced by a combination of roots (such as vetiver), herbs (such as wormwood), animal notes (such as in leather) and others. Bitter accents are to be found mainly in masculine fragrances.

Bouquet – A mixture of flower notes.

Bouquetting – The rounding off and harmonizing of a perfume or flavor.


Chypre – Pronounced “sheepra”, French for “Cyprus” and first used by François Coty to describe the aromas he found on the island of Cyprus. He created a woodsy, mossy, citrus perfume named Chypre; the word is still used for fragrances made in that style. Chypre fragrances generally owe their soft, sweet, earthy natures to ingredients like bergamot, oak-moss, citruses, and patchouli.

Clou de girofle – French for clove.

Citrus Notes – The fresh, slightly sour notes displayed by Lemon, Orange, grapefruit, Bergamot, Pomello.

Classic – A classic fragrance can be considered in the same vein as classic painting or music. It’s a style of fragrance structure that has depth and usually a higher percentage of floral absolutes (3-10%) than are found in modern style fragrances.

Cloying – An odor that is excessively sickly sweet and clinging, it can be an effect where a perfumes note does not change, as in a linear perfume that seems to last too long and becomes unpleasantly clinging.

Cologne – A city in Germany where the precursor of modern perfumes was first produced – Eau De Cologne (Kolnisch Wasser) almost 300 years ago. It’s a blend of primarily Citrus Oils. Popular makes are Farina Gegenuber and 4711 which are both brands over 200 years old.

Cologne (Women’s) – A light form of a specific fragrance with about 3% concentration of perfume compound in an alcohol water base.

Cologne (Men’s) – More concentrated than women’s colognes (5-8%), similar to the strength of toilet water (Eau de Toilette). A Men’s After-Shave by comparison usually only have 3 – 5%.

Compound – The name used in the industry for the concentrated perfume or flavor mixture before it is diluted or used in products.

Concrete – The mixture of volatile oil, waxes and color that is obtained after an aromatic raw material such as flower petals are extracted with a highly volatile solvent e.g. Hexane. The term refers to the fact that after the solvent is removed the mass is solid and waxy.

Creative Perfumery – The process of discovering or making new combinations and perfumes as opposed to copying perfumes or reconstructing naturally occurring fragrance materials.


Distillation – Distillation by steam is the most commonly-used process for the production of essential oils. In this procedure, steam flows through the distillation material and sweeps the essential oils along with it. After cooling, the distillation water is separated from the essential oil in so-called Florentine flasks.

Dry – It’s the term for the odor-effect, the reverse o “sweet” or “warm”, achieved through the use o ingredients such as woods, mosses, herbs and sc on. Dry notes are used mainly in masculine per fumes and are particularly useful as fresh, day time fragrances.


Eau De Cologne (EDC) – Originally the name applied to light refreshing Citrus scented fragrance, also see Cologne. Now, more widely used to relate to a solution of about 3% Perfume compound in an alcohol/water base and is much lighter than a concentrated perfume.

Eau de Parfum (EDP) – An alcoholic perfume solution containing 10 to 15% perfume compound.

Eau de Toilette (EDT) – An alcohol/water based perfume solution containing 3 to 8 % perfume compound.

Earthy – It’s the adjective used to describe the fragrance impression of earth, forest-soil, mold, dust, etc. Earthy accents in perfumes are not pronounced, always subtle.

Encapsulation – To encapsulate, in the perfume industry sense of the word, means to enclose perfume oils in tiny gelatin capsules. These capsules can be applied to the skin together with an alcoholic perfume. When the skin is rubbed, the capsules are broken and the scent of the oil is released, “renewing” the perfume. Tests involving this method of perfuming have been made with textiles.

Enfleurage – It’s a process for the extraction of valuable plant extracts. Plates of glass, covered on both sides with animal fat into which blossoms have been pressed, are placed on wooden frames. Spent blossoms are constantly replaced until saturated with fragrance substance. Then, he blossom oil is separated from the fat through extraction. This procedure is rarely used today, because it is so costly.

Erotic – Perfumes which, in addition to their general leasing and harmonious qualities, are also accented. With warm animal notes in combination with certain flower oils, are said to have an erotic effect. Much depends on the user, though-and he circumstances!

Essences – These are alcoholic or aqueous plant extracts. They are hardly ever used in the perfume industry today, but they are widely employed in the cosmetic and flavor industries.

Essential Oils – (Ethereal) Oils are extracted from various plant parts through pressing or steam distillation. They are natural mixtures of various chemical substances. Unlike fatty oils, they evaporate without leaving a residue.

Evaluation – It means the selection of fragrances, for a specific purpose, from a number of available alternatives. In recent years a whole new profession has emerged in the perfume industry consisting of experts who specialize in this work. They are known as evaluators. Evaluation is work which requires not only talent, knowledge and training, but also a feeling for what the market wants at any particular time. The evaluators (women, in many instances) are an important link between the creators and the users of perfumes.

Expression – It is an especially mild process for the extraction of essential oils, used in cases where steam distillation would modify or damage the end-product. Expression is used mainly for the extraction of citrus oils.

Extrait – The most concentrated form of perfume sold over the counter. It is a solution of 15 % -30 % perfume oil in high-grade alcohol.


Factice – A perfume bottle made for commercial display only — the contents are not actually perfume.

Fatty – It is the same name for the odor that suggests oil, lard, wax and so on. In small doses, these notes are reminiscent of the smell of human skin. They can therefore contribute to the erotic effect of a scent.

Femme – In the context of perfumery, femininity is a quality that is judged subjectively. Any perfume that underlines the womanly attributes of its wearer can be termed feminine, though much depends on the rapport between fragrance and user. Perfumes with floral accents are generally considered to be especially feminine. Of course, this does not prevent women from using scents that are considered to have a masculine character, but the majority uses those with feminine characteristics.

Fixing – It is a process that promotes the retention of the fragrance on the skin as long as possible. To achieve this, heavy, non-volatile substances are used which develop their full fragrance intensities only very slowly, and maintain them for longer periods. Substances are also used for this purpose which have no strong odors of their own, but have the ability to make other fragrances last longer. Good substantivity is a characteristic of every well-constructed fragrance composition. It should be noted that an excessive amount of fixative in a perfume is no guarantee of good retention, because substances can hinder one another in their fragrance diffusion.

Flanker – a fragrance that capitalizes on the success of a master brand. For instance, J Lo Glow was followed by the flanker scents Miami Glow and Love at First Glow. Many flankers are released as limited editions. Some flanker scents are variations on the original fragrance (e.g. they might share certain notes), others share nothing more than the name.

Floral – Today, over half of the branded perfumes are characterized by the adjective “floral.” They contain well-defined flower notes (lily of the valley, for example, as in Diorissimo by Christian Dior), or a whole bouquet of floral effects, as in Quelques Fleurs by Houbigant. As a matter of fact, all perfumes contain floral notes in some quantity.

Floral-Fruity – perfumes are those that have a noticeably fruity element, especially in the top note, as an accessory to the main theme, which is always floral. Excesses of fruitiness are to be avoided as they would suggest food-flavor rather than perfume.

Florentine flasks – see Distillation

Fougere – (pronounced ‘foo-jer’) These fragrances are one of the most popular men’s families. These will often contain Lavender and Oak moss.

Formula – The formula of a perfume compound gives full details of its components-quality and quantity wise-and is used like a recipe for preparing the mixture. To formulate a perfume can take many, many years of experiments. Formulas, holding a company’s Know How, is jealously-guarded trade secrets, sometimes handed down from generation to generation.

Fragrance – Synonymous with Perfume and Extracts. It’s better used to describe the smell part of the perfume rather than the product perfume.

Fragrance Blotters – Narrow strips of absorbent paper about 15 centimeters long with which scent samples are taken and smelled. On smelling strips, the evaporation of fragrance materials and perfume oils can be observed in the different phases they go through. Final judgment of a perfume must always be made on the skin, however.

Fragrance Components – All the materials which the perfumers put together to form a perfume composition are known as fragrance components. These are uniform chemical substances, natural products and simple or complex mixtures – the so-called bases and specialties.

Fragrance Diffusion – Fragrance development is the general behavioral pattern of a perfume in the hands of its user. A good perfume should perform three functions. These are:
Immediate impact on opening the bottle
Noticeable emanation from the skin in all phases of fragrance evaporation.
Noticeable scent in the area that surrounds the user.

Fragrance Material Industry – The fragrance material industry is a branch of the chemical industry. This industry includes the producers of natural and synthetic fragrance materials and perfume oils. The fragrance material industry is a supplier to the manufacturers of perfumes, cosmetics and other products of this nature.

Fragrance Materials, Natural – These are products of plant and animal origin, extracted by different processes. Some examples are essential oils, absolutes, concretes, resins, balsams and tinctures.


Gourmand – In perfumery, describes fragrances which evoke food smells, such as chocolate, honey, or fruits.

Gas Chromatograph – It s an instrument for the analysis of organic chemical mixtures. In a spiral ass or metal column, packed with porous material, the various components are separated according to physical properties such as polarity ad vapor pressure. The signals received are amplified and, with the help of a printer, printed onto a chromatogram.

Grasse – It is a town in Southern France, behind the Riviera. The town has a Mediterranean climate, which is well-suited for the cultivation of plants that produce perfume raw materials. For many years, Grasse has been one of the principal centers in the world for the production of perfume materials.

Green – It is the general term for the odors of grass, leaves, stems and so on. Green fragrances exist in many different nuances. They are widely used in perfumery for the purpose of giving special accents to top-notes.


Harmon – It is the tuning of all the components of a perfume so that no single element in any phase of the fragrance evaporation becomes so prominent that it could be considered unpleasant. It is easy to achieve harmony between similar smelling substances but quite difficult between the contrasting elements which are often introduced into a perfume to give originality and character. Bringing these warring elements into harmony is a challenging task for the perfumer.

Hay-Like – These notes are used mainly in “Nature” fragrances, in different ranges of application-for instance, in medicinal bath-products. Masculine perfumes also can contain hay-like components (Fougere). The synthetic substance with a hay-like odor that is most important in the industry is coumarin.

Heady – Is a perfume with a heavy scent that may be potent or intoxicating or more generally strong.”Heart” or Middle Note – The heart is the second, middle phase of a perfume’s fragrance evaporation, occurring after the top note fades away. It is mainly produced by floral, spicy or woody components and represents, as its name indicates, the heart of the perfume.

Heavy – Fragrances in which the least-volatile ingredients such as mosses and animal notes dominate are called heavy perfumes. Since these ingredients are part of the top note, a heavy perfume can be identified as such at first impact. Heavy substances are used predominantly in chypre notes

Headspace technology – A method of “capturing” the odor of a substance using an apparatus resembling a bell-jar. This has allowed perfumers to mimic the notes of flowers, plants, and foods which do not lend themselves otherwise to extraction.

Herbaceous – Many fragrance substances have herbaceous components, and are reminiscent of herbs and drugs. Well-known, and often-used examples are mugwort, sage, rosemary and lavender. Herbaceous accents are widely used in masculine perfumes.Hesperidia – A general term for citrus oils.


Infusion – It is the production of flower oils by extraction at 65 degrees centigrade with the use of alcohol.

Ingredient – An ingredient is one of the parts that go to make up a mixture.

Intensity – The intensity, or fragrance strength of a perfume compound is dependent on the strength of the individual ingredients, and the skill that is exerted in the blending of these components.


Jasminey – Perfumes that contain the scent of the jasmine blossom as a principal component are termed jasminey. There are many interpretations of the jasmine note, which range from natural blossom odors to stylized, fantasy bases.


Leather Notes – These notes play a significant part in the masculine perfumes. Both natural expressions and fantasy interpretations of this theme exist and are used in the perfume industry. Leather notes also play a part in feminine perfumes; for instance, in the chypre family.

Light – The quality of not being heavy or dominating, often a synonym of Fresh.


Masculine – Masculine, as well as feminine, in the perfume sense is subjective to fragrance impressions. Normally, the term “masculine,” is applied to fragrance favored by men. These contain dry notes of tobacco, spices, mosses and woods. They are generally less floral than feminine perfumes, and often contain a high percentage of fresh ingredients. In the past few years, masculine and feminine notes have come closer and closer together.

Maturity – A perfume must mature for four to eight week, before it can go on sale. This time is necessary to allow the individual ingredients to blend, bringing the fragrance to its full development.

Metallic – These notes are used in perfumes to produce cool, clean effects. They are used in nuances, and very seldom occur dominantly.

Mint-Like – Fragrance notes which are reminiscent of peppermint and spearmint are used in perfumery to produce special fresh effects in the top-note.

Mixing Plant – The stage in the production of perfume in which the concentrated perfume oils are mixed, on a large scale, according to the perfumer’s recipe, is known as the mixing or compounding plant.

Modifying – It means varying an existing, basic fragrance theme by changing some ingredients or introducing new, additional nuances. The result may impress a lay-person as a new perfume, but the expert will recognize a mere variation on an old theme.

Mossy – Odors of different kinds of tree mosses (especially oak moss) play an important part in nearly all perfume types. They are of special significance in the chypre notes. Mossy nuances are very complex and can have, besides the basic moss element, algae-like, leathery, woody and other characteristics. Their especially good fixing qualities, as well as their ability to give fragrances substance and depth, make them indispensable.

Modern – A modern perfume as differentiated from Classic is a perfume based on new notes or harmonies often from newly available aroma chemicals. Modern perfumes are frequently identifiable from their lack of heavy, narcotic notes and their predominance of lighter floral.

Muguet – French for Lily of the Valley. The Italian term is “Mughetto”.


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.


Obtrusive – Perfumes can be obtrusive when they are used to excess. Similarly, an ingredient can obtrude if the fragrance composition is not well balanced.

Oriental – It is the term for perfumes containing ingredients that are reminiscent of fragrances from the East. Such ingredients can be exotic blossom notes, spices, balsams, resins, and animalic components. The character of the Oriental perfumes is such that they are mostly used as so-called winter or evening perfumes.


Palette – The range of aromatic materials from which a perfumer selects to use in the formulation of a perfume.

Perfume (Extract) – “per fumum” – comes from the Latin, meaning “through the smoke.” In ancient times, fragrant resins were burned as incense offerings that were the origin. Today, we understand perfume to be a solution containing 15% to 30% perfume oils and 85% to 70% alcohol, respectively. Most highly concentrated form of fragrance, containing between 20 – 50% perfume compound, It’s the strongest and the longest lasting.

Perfumer – A producer or seller of perfumes.

Pheromone – Chemical substance secreted by an animal to produce a response by other members of the same species.

Pomades – Fats and flower oils saturated with flower oils such as produced during the effleurage process.

Potpourri – A fragrant mixture of dried herbs and flowers, usually scented with synthetic fragrance oils.

Powdery – It’s an effect produced when a heavier sweet or woody note is blended with a lighter note such as citrus, fruity or light green note. Such as is obtained when mixing vanilla with lemon in a sorbet (sherbet).

Prices – Prices of perfumery materials vary greatly, often by a factor of 10 times according to source, quality, quantity purchased.


Resinoids – These are extracts from resins or plant parts (except for the blossom). In addition to the essential oils, they contain ingredients such as the waxes and resins which are soluble in whatever solvent is being used in the particular process. In order to facilitate the use of resinoids, high-boiling, odorless solvents are often added to them. Resinoids often have a dark color and especially good fixing properties.

Resins – They are mainly solid or semi-solid organic plant secretions and must go through a cleaning process.

Rounding-Off – It means harmonizing and binding together the principal ingredients of a perfume, either with odorants that are closely related odor-wise, or with other adjuncts that also fit into the picture and can therefore help to produce a balanced, harmonious whole.


Scent – A distinctive odor that is pleasant.

Sensory Adaptation – It is the tendency of the human sense of smell to become less and less able to perceive a particular fragrance the longer it is exposed to it. When the sense of smell is “adapted” to a fragrance, it is no longer able to recognize it. Yet it recovers quickly from this fatigue.

Sensual – It is the term for a perfume with an erotically-stimulating effect. Properly used, many perfumes can produce pleasant emotions and moods, since the sense of smell is directly connected with the part of the brain in which feelings and sexual behavior are controlled.

Sillage – The trail of scent left behind by a perfume. Fragrances with minimal sillage are often said to “stay close to the skin”.

Smell – It is the sensory perception of odorous organic compounds. It occurs in the act of inhaling, and so air is the carrier.

Smoky – These notes are used mainly in masculine perfumes to create natural leather effects. In modern leather notes the smoky notes are thrust into the background by animalic notes but the old, classical leather perfumes contain noticeable smoky notes which originate from birch tar oil.

Solvents – These are liquids, virtually odor- and colorless, used in perfumery for the dilution of perfume oils. The most commonly-used solvent is ethyl alcohol. Some solvents also have fixative properties.

Soliflore – A fragrance which focuses on a single flower.

Sour – A perfume is said to smell sour when it has aged prematurely owing to inappropriate storage. When this happens, chemical alterations occur which are irreversible, and the perfume must be considered “off.”

Spicy – Spicy describes fragrance notes that have a warm or hot character, as opposed to the neutral or cool Herbal notes. Their scent is pungent, similar to those of cinnamon, or clove and thyme oil.

Splash Cologne – It is light, watery alcohol/perfume oil solution of 1%-3% perfume oil in 99%-97% alcohol, respectively. They are used generously, for refreshment for the whole body, after the shower or bath for example. They have a subtle perfuming effect, and the notes are fresh and clean. Some countries especially favor this application, and two prime examples are France and Spain.

Stability – Stability refers to how long a fragrance lasts, either in the bottle with the other ingredients, or exposed to heat, light or air.

Strength – The strength of a fragrance refers to how intense its scent is.

Substantivity – Substantivity refers to how long a fragrance lasts on a particular surface, and how it’s affected by temperature, humidity, and other such conditions.

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.


Tenacity – The ability of a note or perfume to last or retain its characteristic odor.

Thin – When a perfume lacks complexity or depth.

Top Note – The impression of a fragrance when first smelled or applied to the skin usually the most volatile ingredients in a perfume.


Woody Note – It is a Fragrance Family. This term is used to describe fragrances reminiscent of wood. Woody notes appear in varying degrees in most modern perfumes.

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