The what’s what of fragrance

The world of fragrance is jam-packed with jargon. Have you ever read the back of a perfume box and felt - well – confused? If you don’t know your “parfums” from your “toilettes”, don’t worry; we’re here to help


Eau de Cologne: An eau de cologne is the lightest of the fragrances, made up of a solution of about 3 per cent perfume. It’s an ideal choice for hot, summer days.

Eau de Toilette: Made up of 3 to 8 per cent perfume compound, an eau de toilette is ideal for warm spring and summer weather. They tend to be refreshing fragrances that fade quite quickly.

Eau de Parfum: Eau de parfums demonstrate top, middle and base notes. Perfect for spraying on hair and clothes (although avoid delicate fabrics), it’s a less intense version of parfum

Parfum: A parfum (or perfume) has the densest concentration of the perfume compound. It’s top, middle and base notes slowly release over time, changing throughout its wear. It’s the strongest of the fragrances and should be applied to the skin at pulse spots.


Accord: A scent that’s made up of several perfume notes or ingredients to create a distinct fragrance. 

Top Notes: Your initial reaction to a fragrance is formed on its top notes. These tend to be strong scents that evaporate quickly. 

Middle Notes: Middle notes, or heart notes, sit between the base and top notes in their longevity. They are usually floral or herbal scents like rose and lavender.

Base Note: This refers to the heaviest ingredients in a perfume. The base and middle notes create a scent’s main theme, but you might not smell a base note until 30 minutes after application.  Musk is a popular base note.



Floral: Fragrances that capture the scent of a bouquet. The floral family often combine notes of orange blossom, peonies, neroli and freesias. Alternatively, a single floral fragrance is dominated by one particular flower, such as the rose.

We recommend:
Volare Eau de Parfum

Citrus: Juicy and refreshing fruits that give you that extra boost of energy.

We recommend:
Wake Up Feel Good Eau de Toilette

Oriental: Amber is the cornerstone of the Oriental fragrance family. A sweet and warm smell, it’s one of the perfume world’s most legendary scents. Tonka bean and vanilla are often found in Oriental fragrances.

We recommend:
Amber Elixir Eau de Parfum

Chypre: It’s characterized by the contrast between fresh top notes, e.g. citrus, lavender, and a rich woody, oakmoss base.

We recommend:
Amber Elixir Crystal Eau de Parfum

Words by: Photographs by: Oriflame