Learn about the notes used in your favorite perfumes by using our alphabetical list of perfume notes.
Almond- The term "almond" is used in reference to both the tree and to its edible seeds. The Almond tree is native to the Middle East and South Asia and can be either sweet or bitter. The seeds are processed and their oil is used in the manufacturing of perfume. Almond in perfume has a warm bittersweet aroma.
Ambergris- This is a solid waxy substance originating in the intestine of the Sperm Whale and is used as a stabilizer in perfumes to help them last longer. It is found naturally in the ocean and washes ashore mainly on the coasts of China,Japan,Africa the Bahamas and the Americas. Fresh Ambergris is black and soft and has a disagreeable odour. When exposed to sun, air, and seawater, however, it hardens and fades to a light gray or yellow, developing a subtle and pleasant fragrance in the process. Ambergris has been highly valued by perfumers for decades and is still used however the synthetic compound Ambroxan is used more commonly nowadays.
Bergamot- This is a citrus fruit about the size of an orange and has the color similar to that of a lemon/lime. The Bergamot peel is used in the production of perfume and is found frequently in women's perfume due to its ability to combine with an array of scents to form a bouquet of aromas which complement each other.
Blackberry- The Blackberry is an edible fruit produced by many species in the Rubus (a large and diverse genus of flowering plants in the rose family) genus in the Rosaceae (Rose) family. The essential oil extracted from the berries during the perfume making process give off a sweet and slightly citrusy aroma.
BlackCurrant- The Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is a woody shrub in the family Grossulariaceae grown for its piquant (a pleasantly sharp taste or appetizing flavor) berries. It is native to temperate parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia. It has an aroma that is a rich fruity blend of juicy wild berries and ripe currant.
CedarWood- Cedarwood is used mainly as a base note ingredient by perfumers and is derived from the oil in the Cedarwood from the Cedar tree. It is one the oldest notes used in perfumes and has a very distinct woody,spicy resinous aroma.
Cinnamon- A spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon has a pleasant sweet aroma.
Clementine- This is a a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a sweet orange and is grown around the Mediterranean and in South Africa. The oil from the Clementine is extracted through cold compression and gives off a pleasant fresh, crisp citrus aroma.
Dewberry- Dewberries are a group of species in the genus Rubus (a large and diverse genus of flowering plants in the Rose family) and are closely related to blackberries. Dewberries have a pleasant sweet smell.
Frankincense- Sometimes referred to as olibanum in the fragrance industry. Frankincense is a highly fragrant resin that is derived from the Boswellia sacra tree. The essential oil is produced from the tress dried resin through a process known as steam distillation. Frankincense has a piney and lemony scent combined with a sweet, woody aroma.
Freesia- Named after German botanist and doctor Friedrich Freese these are herbaceous (plants that have no persistent woody stem above ground) plants. They produce fragrant funnel-shaped flowers and are cultivated as hybrids of a number of Freesia species. Freesia has a light, sweet, soap-like floral scent.
Galbanum- This is an aromatic gum resin and is found in certain Unbelliferae Persian plant species. It grows plentiful on the slopes of the mountain ranges in northern Iran and also in Turkey. It has a strong green scent with woody and balsamic undertones with an overall earthy forest like aroma. Perfumers like to use it as a strong top note and as a base note when combined with Chypre elements such as Pine and Oakmoss. Some notable fragrances that have used Galbanum include Chanel No. 19,Must by Cartier, Vol de Nuit by Guerlain,Nude by Bill Blass and Vent Vert by Balmain which debuted in 1945 and is thought to be the first perfume to use Galbanum.
Heliotrope- Heliotrope or Heliotropium is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Borage (an annual herb) family. Several different Heliotropes are popular garden plants with the most popular being the garden heliotrope. Heliotrope has a very pleasant aroma that seems to fluctuate between marzipan, vanilla, cherry pie and almond
Iris- From the Greek word for rainbow Iris is a perennial plant (a plant that grows for more than two years) growing from creeping rhizomes or a creeping rootstalk. Rhizomes of the German Iris and Sweet Iris are traded as orris root which produces oil of orris. In the manufacturing of perfumes using orris, the scent of the iris root differs from that of the flower. After preparation the scent is reminiscent of the smell of violets. It is mainly used as a base note in fragrances.
Jasmine- This is a genus of shrubs and vines belonging to the olive family (Oleaceae) and contains around 200 species. The oil in the flowers is cultivated and then used in the production of perfume and other products. Jasmine has a rich and very beautiful sweet floral aroma.
Juniper- This plant is part of the Cypress family which contains anywhere between 50 and 67 species of the Juniper plant. The Juniper can grow as a tree reaching heights of 131 feet to low sprawling shrubs on the ground,it all depends on its species. The Juniper yields berries which are usually blue. These berries are steam distilled which creates the essential oil used in the production of certain perfumes. The scent of the Juniper has been described as fresh and sweet.
Lavender- Lavender is part of the flowering mint family. The essential oil derived from the plant is what is used in the production of perfume. The most common type of Lavender used in the perfume making process is English Lavender. Lavender has a sweet,floral,herbal scent with balsamic undertones.
LIly Of The Valley- This is a sweet woodland perennial flowering plant that is native to the cool Northern Temperate Zone. It has a bright/clean sweet scent reminiscent of Jasmine. One of the first perfumes to utilize this flower was Christian Dior;s 1956 fragrance Diorissimo (Lily Of The Valley was also Dior's favorite flower). Lily-of-the-Valley is also a highly poisonous plant that if ingested (even in small amounts) can cause severe abdominal pain,vomiting,reduced heart rate,blurred vision,drowsiness.confusion,headaches and red skin rashes. However the flower itself is not poisonous to the touch. If ingested call 911 immediately or your local poison control center or The National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 and follow their instructions.
Lotus- The Lotus or Nelumbo nucifera is an aquatic perennial plant in the Nelumbonaceae family. The roots of lotus are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface or are held well above it. The flowers have a pleasant aroma that is somewhat citrusy,floral and earthy.
Labdanum- Is a sticky brown resin obtained from the shrubs Cistus Ladanifer (western Mediterranean) and Cistus Creticus (eastern Mediterranean), species of Rockrose. Labdanum is used either as an absolute or an essential oil in perfumes and has a deep, powerful, leathery and ambery aroma.
Magnolia- Magnolia flowers are named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol and are one of the oldest known flowers. Their origin has been traced back to the days of the dinosaurs and before bees existed. They are a member of the Magnoliaceae family/sub-family Magnolioideae. The Magnolia flower has a bitter,lemony fresh scent.
Narcissus- This is a flower that blooms mainly in the springtime and is usually yellow or white in color. It grows mostly in South-West Europe and North Africa, but some sorts can be found in Central Asia and China. Narcissus is a heady, narcotic flower with sweet, hypnotic, green nuances. I say narcotic because its scent can be overpowering and lead to headaches and nausea id care isn't taken when working around them.
Neroli- An essential oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. Neroli has a scent that is sweet, honeyed and somewhat metallic with green and spicy facets.
Oakmoss- A species of lichen (a composite organism that arises from algae and/or cyanobacteria fungus) found in mountainous temperate forests all around the Northern Hemisphere. As its name already suggests, Oakmoss grows commonly on the branches and trunks of oak trees, even though it may also be found on other deciduous (trees or shrubs that shed their leaves annually) trees and conifers (cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue.) Oakmoss has a strong,wet forest earthy aroma with a leather like undertone and is used frequently as a basenote in perfumes.
Patchouli- The heavy and strong scent of Patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes. It is a bushy herb of the mint family and is native to the tropical regions of Asia. It has a strong slightly sweet scent and has often been described as having a dark, musky-earthy aroma.
Peony- The Peony or Paeony is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. It is the state flower of Indiana and has somewhat of a sweet rose like aroma.
Pink Pepper- Also known as Pink Peppercorn. Pink Pepper is produced from the bright pink fruit of the evergreen tree, Schinus molle. It tends to blend well with other notes especially floral, woody, and citrus notes. Despite its name it is not related to true pepper and has a rosy aroma.
Plum- Is a fruit belonging to the genus Prunus which is a family of trees and shrubs. The fruit from this genus are commonly called the Stone Fruit. In the production of perfume the oil of the Plum or its essential oil is used and gives off a luscious,very pleasant sweet fruity aroma.
Rose- Perfumes that use Rose as a note derive it from the oil in the roses. This is accomplished by a process known as steam distilling where the rose petals are placed in boiling water and the steam and oils are captured and separated to produce the essential rose oil. It takes approximately 10,000 roses to create a 5ml bottle of essential rose oil.
Sandalwood- Sandalwood oil,which is what is used in the composition of certain fragrances is derived from the heartwood of various species of Sandalwood trees. It has a woodsy sweet smell and is frequently used as a base note.
Tonka Bean- Dipteryx Odorate (commonly known as "cumaru" or "kumaru") is a species of flowering tree in the pea family,Fabacrae and produce seeds known as tonka beans. The tress are native to Central America and northern South America. The seeds are black and wrinkled and have a smooth, brown interior. When processed and used in perfume the Tonka bean gives off a scent of new mowed hay with a bittersweet twist of almond.
Violet-This is genus of Spring flowering plants in the family Violaceae. Violets typically have heart-shaped leaves, and asymmetrical flowers. The word 'Violet' comes from the Latin name 'Viola'. Ordinary Violets, Common Blue Violets, Sweet Violets and Garden Violets are some of the popular varieties of Violets. Most Violets are small perennial plants, but a few are annual plants and some are small shrubs. Violets are native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere and are also found in Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes in South America. Violets have a sweet and fresh aroma and are known to have a 'flirty' scent as its fragrance comes and goes. Ionone is present in the flowers, which turns off the ability for humans to smell the fragrant compound for moments at a time.
Wisteria- This is a fast growing vining flowering plant that is native to China,Japan and Korea and as an introduced plant in the Eastern United States. It's flowers can range in color from purple to pink to white and blue,depending on the genus and grow in thick clusters. Wisteria gives off a very pleasant sweet aroma and is a popular middle note in perfumes.
Ylang-Ylang- An essential oil that is extracted from the flowers of the tropical Cananga tree. Ylang-Ylang is rich and deep with notes of rubber and custard, and bright with hints of jasmine and neroli.