• Emma-Jane

A Beginners Guide To Understanding Fragrance

Updated: 3 days ago

The world of fragrance and scents can be a minefield for many and understanding where to start is often overwhelming. With brands and celebrities launching new fragrances left, right and centre, it’s hard to know which is the right scent for you – especially when online shopping.

Whether you’re searching for your signature scent, or a gift fora special someone, having an understanding of perfume’s and how they are formulated will help you understand fragrance more. Even through a screen, having this knowledge will make those choices easier.


Helping to distinguish different types of scents, knowing fragrance families makes finding your fragrance that little bit easier. Once you have a basic knowledge of what to expect from a scent, identifying the different families will become much easier and you’ll soon learn what you like and don’t like.

Citrus: modern and refreshing. Common notes include; lemon, orange, neroli, bergamot, grapefruit and mandarin. Oriental: rich, smooth and sensual. Common notes include; orange blossom, vanilla, spices, tobacco and amber. Floral: luxurious and familiar. Common notes include; iris, jasmine, rose and lily of the valley. Chypre: sophisticated. Common notes include; bergamot, oak moss and patchouli. Wood: Rich and seductive. Common notes include; oak, sandalwood, rosewood and cedar wood. Fruit: Fun and sweet. Common notes include; raspberry, grapefruit, lemon, strawberry and apple.


When speaking about perfumes, fragrance notes are often mentioned and unless you understand how perfumes are formulated, this could go in one ear and out the other.

After some time on the skin, your perfume scent may change due to your activity and the environment, which are the different notes of the fragrance coming out over time, creating a multi-dimensional scent. Each perfume is made up of different notes; top notes are the initial scents you smell and the first to evaporate. The middle notes (or heat notes) usually come through sweeter and more floral, lasting an hour or so on the skin. Then the base notes are usually a richer scent and are long-lasting.


Understanding the different types of perfumes on the market will allow you to make the best decision when searching for your scent. The concentration and lasting time are all important factors to consider. Here are the most common types of perfumes:


Highest concentration 20-40% Lasts 6-8 hours Highest priced Best for sensitive skin; no alcohol concentration

Eau De Parfum

High concentration 10-30% Lasts 4-6 hours Suitable for everyday use Most common type of perfume

Eau De Toilette

Medium concentration 5-20% Lasts 4-5 hours Suitable for summer Most popular type of perfume

If you’re looking to build your fragrance knowledge further, then The Perfume Shop also share posts and guides to fragrance families, giving top tips and tricks you can take away.

**This post was written in collaboration with Harvey Nichols for Cohorted Cult.

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