Intro to Fragrances: All You Need to Know

What is a Fragrance?

A fragrance is usually a cologne or perfume. These could also be other things such as body sprays, deodorants or more, however this article will mean colognes and perfumes when the term fragrance is used.

A cologne or perfume is purely fragrance oils mixed with alcohol.  These oils can either be resins, essential oils, or a synthetic resin to recreate something that cannot be made naturally.

It is vital to note the reasons you can smell the fragrance someone wears is that the oils are slowly evaporating due to the heat you and the environment give off, this means if you have a hot body temperature, are working out, or it is hot outside the fragrance will not last as long and thus be stronger to those around you.

Why do These Matter?

The sense of scent can be the most underrated aspect of an outfit.  People worry about how they look, act, and talk, but not everyone pays attention to smell.  The sense of smell is hard to ignore or block, you can cover your ears, eyes and mouth without a problem, but you still have to breath.  That is where having a scent can shine.

Wearing a scent is the fastest way to boost your attractiveness, it takes three seconds to apply and can last for hours, and this is often overlooked.  Almost 40% of men age 18-64 years of age do not wear a cologne, conversely 40% of people who do wear one only have one bottle. This underused fashion aspect can be easily remedied, however to use it effectively you need to know some basic cologne terms.

Aspects of a Scent


Accord is how a few different scents in the fragrance come together, if a fragrance has scents of orange, lemon and lime, you would say it has a “citrusy” accord.


A note is an ingredient of a fragrance, the name of it could be either the scent it gives; such as apple.  It could also be the ingredient itself such as “Agarwood resin”. The final use is it could be used in substitute of accord.  Most fragrances use several notes at different molecular weights, that mean as you smell the scent, it goes through layers of smell similar to layers of cake.


Sillage is how the fragrances scent projects into the air around you, a high sillage means that people further away can smell it, this doesn’t always correlate to the strength of the fragrance.


Strength is how long a scent will last, this can be altered by one of two main ways. The first is to up the concentration of the oils, but this usually means it will be much stronger the first few hours, usually giving the fragrance a larger sillage.  The second method is the scents used, a heavier molecule will stay around longer and thus make the scent last longer.

Types of Notes

notes perfume


Base Notes

Base notes are the heaviest molecules in the Fragrance, they last the longest and tend to make the other notes last longer throughout the day and even enhance the other notes scent.  An accurate comparison could be an aftertaste to food.

Middle Notes

Middle notes or heart notes are the medium weight molecules, you smell them in the middle of the fragrances scent as it changes over time.  These typically floral scents last longer than top notes, but shorter than base notes.

Top Notes

Top notes are the scents the start of the fragrance gives off, these light molecules don’t last long and are the first scent you notice, this means they also disappear the fastest, but also give the largest part of the sillage.

While all these factors in a fragrance may make them seem complicated, all it takes is just knowing it smells good. These terms and knowledge provide the tools to effectively use fragrances.  Dress for the occasion and smell right for occasion, Dress good, smell good, feel good, be good.

– Eric Blanchard