When purchasing a perfume at a brick-and-mortar store, you only need to smell or spritz on the tester to know how it smells. However, when buying fragrances online, you don’t have that option and so you end up relying on the product descriptions to help you decide. Since these descriptions are chock-full of terminology, here are some concepts that you should know in the world of perfumes:
1. Notes – In perfume terminology, a “note” usually refers to a specific ingredient or loosely used as a synonym for an “accord,” or a blend of two or more fragrances. Notes are often subdivided into base notes, or the heaviest ingredients; middle or heart notes; and top notes, which are the lightest ingredients.
As the name suggests, base notes are usually the ones you smell last when you spritz on a fragrance. They also help enhance the other notes or make them last longer. Meanwhile, top notes are the first things you smell in a perfume, such as fruity scents. And before you smell the base notes, you smell the middle notes, which are usually floral ingredients.
2. Concentration – This refers to the longevity of the scent and the ratio of the perfume oil to the alcohol. For example, a fragrance classified as Eau de Cologne has a 2 to 5% concentration of perfume oils while Eau de Toilette has a 5 to 20% concentration of oils. Meanwihle, Eau de Parfum has a 10 to 30% concentration, while Extrait or Extract has the highest concentration at around 20 to 40%
3. Musk – It’s not just a scent. This ingredient, which was once only obtained from musk deer, is also used to extend the life of a fragrance. Today, most perfumers now use synthetic musk; the musk deer was almost hunted to extinction due to demand for this ingredient.