What does 'Fragrance Notes' Mean ?
Do you scroll through our Facebook and Instagram and wonder what on earth we are talking about when we reference a fragrance’s “notes?” Don’t worry; this fragrance-world term is one for the layman. Fragrances are comprised of many different scents; these scents are called “notes”
First, there are top notes, which are what you smell immediately after you spray. They are very light and last just a few minutes. Middle notes become apparent about 15 minutes after application. These can last an hour or more. Bottom notes are the heavier scents which last the longest, usually for several hours.
Pretty straight forward, right? But when we start throwing around words like “patchouli” and “sandalwood”, you may rekindle some confusion. Because being informed helps you find a product you’ll love, we‘ve put together a list of common fragrance notes and what they smell like.
Citrus notes include some self-explanatory scents like lemon, grapefruit, blood orange, lemongrass and clementine. Below are a few you may encounter that are not so self-explained:
Bergamot: This fruit is a cross between a pear-lemon and an orange or grapefruit. It has a fruity-sweet scent with mild spiciness.
Yuzu: Yuzu is a Japanese citrus with an aroma similar to grapefruit.
Neroli: Neroli is a fragrant distillation of a fresh bitter orange flower. This smells like a bitter version of orange and honey blossom.
Fruit, Veggie and Nut Notes
We trust that you know what coconuts, cherries, apples, almonds, olives and pumpkins smell like. The more uncommon notes in this category are as follows:
Osmanthus: Osmanthus smells most simply like an apricot.
Passionfruit or Passion Flower: Passionfruit has a sweet and calming scent that is a mix of fruity, floral and grassy.
Litchi or Lychee: Litchi’s scent is closest to a mix of a grape and a rose.
Malt: Malt is produced from grains and it’s odor profile is reminiscent of roasted barley and fine beer and whiskey.
Carob: Carob has a sweet smell that lends to dates and cocoa powder.
Contrary to popular belief, not all flowers smell the same. Here’s how to differentiate floral notes:
Black Elder: Black elder includes nuances of various aromas including floral-herbs and berries.
Cherry Blossom: Cherry Blossom has a powdery, sweet and lightly tangy smell.
Dandelion: Dandelion smells a bit citrusy with a hint of rose.
Freesia: Freesia has a refreshing peppery-flower smell with green nuances.
Geranium: Geranium’s scent lends to that of a rose, but less powdery and more lemony.
Hyacinth: Hyacinths have an intensely intoxicating floral scent that is oily and green. It is slightly sweet, enticing and fresh.
Lilac: Lilac smells fresh and clean with an intimate floral scent lending to honey and jasmine.
Lavender: Lavender has an aromatic clean scent that can be described as medicinal and lending to licorice.
Lily of the Valley: Lily of the Valley has a bright, green floral scent that is slightly sweet like jasmine.
Orchid: Orchid notes are powdery, sweetish and clean.
Poppy: Poppy notes are a mix between a floral scent and warm, dry earth.
White Floral: White floral notes are the most intoxicating of floral scents and emanate intense femininity.
Green notes refer to scents that evoke the smell of snapped leaves, foliage, freshly cut grass and nature. They make a fragrance feel crisp and are most commonly used in sporty or summertime fragrances.
Olive Leaf: Olive leaf notes have a bitter-ish green scent that is a touch smoky.
Juniper: Juniper is a berry that is typically used as a spice. It's scent lends to that of gin as they are used to flavor it.
Fig Leaf: Fig leaf notes bring to mind earth and foliage. It is a unique scent that is very green and a touch bitter.
Artemisia: Artemisia is a strongly herbal smelling plant that lends to the scent of vermouth.
Oriental Notes: Oriental notes refer to those that are spicy and come from exotic parts of the world. This can include cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, nutmeg, etc.
Allspice: Allspice notes are a combination of spices including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
Caraway: Caraway smells sharp, sweet and lightly spicy.
Ginger: Ginger notes are common in fragrance and smell spicy and sharp yet light enough to pair well with citrus and vanilla.
Pepper: Pepper, though presumably self-explanatory in scent, is not something you want to directly sniff unless you enjoy sneeze attacks. Pepper has a hot and bracing scent that is earthy.
Saffron: Saffron is a small flower whose smell is bittersweet, leathery, soft and earthy.
Bamboo: Bamboo has a dry, paper-like scent that smells very natural.
Birch: Birch smells like “cooked wood.” It is used in leather scents and is masculine.
Cedar: Cedar has a distinctive woody and spicy scent.
Sandalwood: Sandalwood is an oriental woody note that is soft yet sturdy and rich with a hint of green, and a lingering, satisfying scent.
Vetiver: Vetiver has a musty, dry, woody scent with bitter chocolate and smoke hints. It is earthy, and aromatic.
Driftwood: Driftwood has a watery, slightly musty scent but is light and beachy.
Patchouli: Patchouli smells sweet, dark, earthy and woody. It is a green herb of the mint family.
Amber: Amber is a sweet scent that evokes feelings of warm coziness. It is powdery, yet darker and honey-like.
Musk: Musk is an animalistic note that adds a subtle touch of sensuality and warmth.
Water: Watery notes are fresh and dewy.