We might recognize some of the notes in our favorite perfumes if they're scents or tastes we’ve encountered in other products. Vanilla, mint, lemon, and lavender are all pretty identifiable. (We've got more on how notes can evolve for you here.) But for those of us who weren’t born in a patchouli patch, this guide will help explain some other commonly used perfume ingredients and blended notes, as described by the noses at Jules & Vetiver.
|A note, not an individual ingredient. Old-school perfume scent that might remind you of a classy older relative. A blend between the incense-y quality of labdanum and the sweetness of vanilla. (In no way related to the fossilized resin that it's named after...this note is a combination of ingredients blended into a classic "accord" used as the foundation of a lot of scents.)
|A very zesty citrus. Close to lemon, but not quite.
|Vanilla’s less-sweet cousin, with a slightly boozy twang...maybe also a hint of pink bubblegum and baby powder to it.
|Sweet, potent candied cherry.
|Black currant bud
|More green leaf than black fruit. Fresh greenery, with a tart, almost slightly vinegary edge.
|Spicy, warm floral with a fermented hint….think flower with cloves and honey tucked between the petals.
|Light aroma of freshly shaved pencil.
|Sweet, spicy fruity smell with a hint of powder.
|Ultra green, herbal smell.
|Freshly chopped cilantro. Spicy and rich, a jovial addition to the party, but not everyone’s favorite.
|A note, not an individual ingredient. If the fruit part, a sweet dried fruit smell, almost like creamy coconut. If the leaves, more boldly green, a little like unripe olives, a little metallic.
|Super green. Wet, mashed up leaves.
|Fermented and slightly smoky. Think cheese-rind-meets-warm-plywood.
|One of those liqueur-filled chocolates, with a slightly powdery, floral hint.
|Think jasmine rice or jasmine tea. Relaxing, perfumey, floral. Some similarities to gardenia.
|Sweet, slightly fermented incense. Brings to mind a very old Italian church altar.
|A cross between lemon and sweet mint.
|Mimosa (aka acacia)
|Powdery, pollen-like floral scent...classic "springtime" aroma.
|Includes a whole category of ingredients that are intoxicating and bafflingly hard to describe. Sometimes a little like fresh laundry, sometimes a little like clean, warm skin. Draws you in with its softness, something you like to keep coming back to smell.
|Earthy, green, with a slightly floral hint.
|Smoky, wet forest floor when it’s been raining for days.
|Similar to neroli (both come from the flowers of the same tree), but the extraction method for the oil is different. A bit more floral than neroli. Soft, white flowers.
|Sweet, like dried apricots being cooked with honey, with a little bit of spice.
|Black pepper’s lighter, livelier sister. A strong kick to start, but doesn’t overstay its welcome.
|Minty, menthol wood. Powerfully fresh.
|Hemp-like. Grassy, funky, hippie smell.
|Cedar-y, like warm, freshly chainsawed wood shavings. Sometimes a little softer and muskier depending on where it's grown.
|Soft-but-potent floral. Gardenia meets Dr. Pepper in a strangely hypnotic way, with an edge of wet earth.
|A woody, slightly herbal smell. In the patchouli ballpark, but less funky. Potent, but not overwhelming. It sits in the background and sticks around for a while. (One of our favorite ingredients, in case our name isn't a dead giveaway.)
|Fresh, green tea. Lightly dried herbal quality.
|Floral, but with a powdery, vanilla-like edge at the end.
|Classic floral, but with some powdery, slightly sweet fruitiness (and maybe a touch of bubblegum?) hidden inside.
|A citrusy cross between tangerine and lemon.
Any other notes or perfume descriptions that makes no sense to you? Let us know at email@example.com and we'll add it to the list!