Absolute: The highly-concentrated perfume material extracted from a concrete. Absolutes are extracts obtained through a two-phased process to retrieve the volatile fragrant oil. This is done on delicate floral & plant matter that can not withstand the heat of steam distillation. The natural biomass is treated with a solvent, filtered and distilled, yielding a waxy or resinous concrete. The concrete is then washed, chilled & filtered with ethanol to remove waxes, colors and non-odiferous materials. Once the ethanol is evaporated, the resulting oil is an Absolute.
Absolutes are more concentrated than essential oil’s, smelling closer to the original flower or plant. They are often thicker requiring warming and finesse to work with.
Accord: A balanced blend of notes which lose their individual identity when mixed together to create a completely new, unified odor impression. Each and every fragrance, both in nature and man-made is composed of individual building blocks called notes. Each note combines with other notes to create accords. Accords combine to create the symphonies known as a finished fragrance.
Agrestic: Literally, “relating to the country; rural; rustic”. In perfumery, Agrestic refers to an Olfactive Family comprised of heavy, dry, earthy notes such as hay, tobacco, lovage, elderflower, and even oakmoss when characterized by a hay-like, barnyard, dryness. Some notes such as oakmoss skew more moist green.
Alcohol Extracts: A mixture of hydro-alcoholic solution and raw bio-matter materials, then distilled. The end product is an alcohol extract. Not to be confused with a strict Alcohol Tincture, in which the material is extracted solely in alcohol. (see Tincture).
Aldehydic: In perfumery, a class of molecules found typically in synthetic aromachemicals. The odor profile ranges from fatty, cucumber-y, to soapy, sharp or metallic. The effect of ‘clean air’, ‘sea-breeze’, and the signatures of Ivory soap, and Chanel No.5 all original with aldehydes.
Animalic: An Olfactive Family grouped with Musk. Olfactive Description: Animal, sensual, fecal, mammal, sweaty, funky, indolic.
Aromatherapy: As stated on the Tisserand Aromatherapy website (www.tisserand.com),
“Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile oils, known as essential oils, to promote psychological and physical wellbeing”. Typically, aromatherapy only uses essences that have been extracted by hydrodistillation. (or cold extraction in the case of citrus), yielding what are known as ‘essential oils’.
Bottom/Base Note: Also referred to as Drydown Notes. The long-lasting foundational base of each fragrance. These notes are heavy molecules that allow the fragrance to last, giving it endurance and body. Referred to as ‘fixatives’, these notes evaporate
extremely slowly, allowing the fragrance to have tenacity and longevity on the skin. These rich, deep notes include woods, earthy roots, spices, incense, resins, amber and animalic musks.
Chypre: An Olfactive Family. Olfactive Description: Mossy, Oakmoss & Treemoss earthy, clean dirt, dank, wet-cave, forest floor, roots & soil. Literally, Chypre is the French word for the name of the Island of Cyprus, where supposedly the Oak tree referencing the signature ingredient of Oakmoss originated. The term Chypre is usually used in fine fragrance classifications, and always has an Oakmoss/Treemoss green earthy signature.
C of A: C of A is the acronym for Certificate of Analysis, which is a document issued by Quality Assurance that confirms that a regulated product meets its product specification.
C of Naturals: Certificate of Natural. The document which states the formulation adheres to the definition of natural as stated. In this case: ISO 9235 definition of aromatic natural raw materials.
Cold-Pressure Extractions: This method is used on Citrus: Lime, Lemon, Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit, Mandarin, Yuzu, etc. The peel of the fruit is squeezed under high-pressure, without solvent or heat. Note: these perfumery ingredients are a byproduct of the citrus juice industry. Cold Pressure, along with hydrodistillation, are the only two processes which yield official “Essential Oils”.
Co2 Extraction: Also referred to as Supercritical CO2, is the technology by which CO2 is heated, compressed and turned into a ‘supercritical’ fluid which is sent to an extractor with the biomatter. The fluid passes through the material in the extractor, (flowers, pods, etc) extracting the odor molecules. The CO2 then becomes gas in the expansion chamber, removed and recycled, leaving the liquid oil (called a CO2 extraction). This form of extraction captures extremely volatile molecules, thus yielding a very refined, smooth, complex rendition of the original material.
Concrete: Solid waxy substance obtained by the solvent extraction of plant material, e.g., flowers, bark, leaves, etc.
Dilution: The act of reducing the concentration of a mixture or solution, such as oils placed into an alcoholic, lotion, gel or another base.
Distillates: A product of distillation. Example, Neroli or Lavender oil is the distillate of the fresh flower.
Drydown Notes: Also referred to as Bottom Notes. The long-lasting foundational base of each fragrance. These notes are heavy molecules that allow the fragrance to last, giving it endurance and body. Referred to as ‘fixatives’, these notes evaporate extremely slowly, allowing the fragrance to have tenacity and longevity on the skin. These rich, deep notes include woods, earthy roots, spices, incense, resins, amber and animalic musks.
Essential Oil: A natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in their Vocabulary of Natural Materials (ISO/D1S9235.2) defines an essential oil as a product made by distillation with either water or steam or by mechanical processing of citrus rinds or by dry distillation of natural materials. Following the distillation, the essential oil is physically separated from the water phase. According to Dr. Brian Lawrence “for an essential oil to be a true essential oil, it must be isolated by physical means only. The physical methods used are distillation (steam, steam/water and water) or expression (also known as cold pressing, a unique feature for citrus peel oils). Essential Oils are the by product of water or steam distillation. In the case of citrus peels, a process known as cold pressure extraction, without the use of solvents, yields the citrus essential oil. Distilled essential oil is separated from the water phase by physical means via a Florentine Vase. The Aqueous by product is called a Hydrosol, a valuable fragrant carrier of the original oil. An essential oil is not a molecule. It is mother nature’s formula containing many individual components; constituent parts… each of which are molecules. Through fractional distillation, it is possible to obtain a fraction or
isolate of the essential oil: one or a few of the individual component parts of an essential oil.
Extraction: The 2-phase method by which an oil is extracted, yielding an Absolute. This is done for certain materials, usually fragile flowers, that can not withstand the heat of distillation. The raw material is loaded onto trays and washed with a solvent. Waxes are diluted in the solvent, which is then evaporated via distillation. The end product is a concrete or resinoid. Phase 2: the concrete is mixed with ethanol so the aromatic molecules separate from the waxes. The wax is then eliminated via chilling/filtering and the ethanol evaporated. The end product is the Absolute (which is in an oil form).
Fermentation: literally, “..a metabolic process that consumes sugar in the absence of oxygen”. Fermentation can be used to create odor molecules via this biological process.
Fougere: Originally from the French word for Fern and was first used by Houbiant with their Fougere Royale mens fragrance in 1882. The Fougere fragrance classification refers to fern, forest-like notes of Oakmoss combined with herbaceous notes like Lavender and coumarin, agrestic notes of hay and woody notes. It is typically a men’s fragrance, and now is reinterpreted with Citrus freshness, green and floral notes.
Fraction: A fraction, like an isolate, is a constituent part of an essential oil that has been separated out for use individually via the use of a fractionating column. Fractional Distillation can create a portion of the essential oil, leaving out less desirable odor characteristics. Ylang Ylang fractions are an example of this: Ylang Extra, I, II, III are all fractions. (note: Ylang complete is either the oil yielded during entire distillation process, or the combination of the four fractions to yield a complete odor profile).
Gourmand: An Olfactive Family. Olfactive Description characterized by notes that reference edible, flavor inspired, yummy, rich, creamy, vanillic, sweet, chocolatey, mouth watering perfumery notes.
IFRA: The International Fragrance Association, based in Geneva, Switzerland. IFRA is the official self-regulatory representative body of the fragrance industry worldwide. Its main purpose is to ensure the safety of fragrance materials through a dedicated science program. IFRA publishes a list of usage standards for fragrance materials, limiting or prohibiting the use of ingredients, based on the findings of the Research Institute of Fragrance Materials, which gathers data regarding the safety of fragrance materials. www.ifraorg.org
Infusion: An extraction, or remedy, prepared by steeping the biomatter, (leaves/flowers/twigs/etc) in warm or hot water. Tea is an example of an infusion.
(vs. a tincture, which uses alcohol).
Isolates: Using fractional distillation, specific individual constituents, odor molecules, can be isolated from the essential oil; separated out for use in formulations on their own. These isolates add to the natural perfumers palette of materials, allowing more nuanced and refined creations. For example, Eugenol is isolated from Clove Oil. Linalool is found in Lavender as well as other botanicals.
ISO 9235: ISO is the acronym for the International Organization for Standardization, “a worldwide federation of national standards bodies.”
“The ISO 9235 standard specifies the terms and definitions, in English & French, relating to aromatic natural raw materials.”
Mid Notes: Also referred to as Middle Notes. The heart notes of the fragrance. These notes make up the heart, or Coeur of the perfume. Beautiful florals, green florals, sumptuous fleshy fruits, fine herbal tones and precious spices are just a few of the notes that create the signature heart of a perfume.
Middle Note: Also referred to as Mid Notes. The heart notes of the fragrance. These notes make up the heart, or Coeur of the perfume. Beautiful florals, green florals, sumptuous fleshy fruits, fine herbal tones and precious spices are just a few of the notes that create the signature heart of a perfume.
Natural: The dictionary definition literally: “...caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind”. To date there is no US legal definition for the word natural as it pertains to cosmetics or fragrances. However, the International Standards Organization (ISO) defines ‘Aromatic Natural Raw Materials via the ISO 9235 Standard. Palette Naturals follows this definition of Natural.
Natural Perfumery: Natural Perfumery is the art of perfumery, focusing on an aesthetic olfactive experience, using only natural molecules. Included in this are essential oils, as well as absolutes, fractions, isolates, CO2 extractions, concretes, resinoids, co-distillates, molecular distillates, infusions, tinctures, and hydrosols. All ingredients are strictly from natural materials as per ISO 9235; there are no synthetic materials.
Neat: Pure, undiluted, fully-concentrated oils.
Noble Notes/Noble Materials: Single notes that are pure, natural, highly valued, and not derivative. Borrowing from the use of the term “noble metals” or precious metals, the Noble Materials in perfumery are the exquisite, low-yield, rare, highly valued oils including Rose, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Tuberose, Narcisse, Orris, Ambrette, and Ambergris.
Nose: Person who mixes fragrance components to make perfume; another commonly used term is perfumer. Refers to those who create fragrances.
Note: In perfumery, notes are descriptors of scents that can be smelled upon the application of a fragrance. Notes are separated into three classes: top/head notes, middle/heart notes, and base notes. Each class denote groups of scents which can be recognized within a timeframe of the fragrance application and relate to the volatility of each note. Note is a borrowed term from music to indicate an olfactory impression of a single smell.
Olfactive: (adj) Of or pertaining to the sense of smell; olfactory.
Olfactive Family: Grouping of similar ingredients/fragrances into a broad category. Traditionally, there were 7 Olfactive Families - each with additional subclasses. In 1945 advances in technology necessitated the creation of additional families to help describe modern scents. Traditional Olfactive Families are Single Floral; Floral Bouquet; Amery; Woody; Leather; Chypre; Fougère. Modern additions are Bright Floral; Green; Oceanic/Ozone; Citrus/Fruity; and Gourmand.
Olfactory: (noun) Of, relating to, or contributing to the sense of smell
Organic: An agricultural term (not a perfumery term) referencing the processes used to farm, cultivate, grow and harvest a crop without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, promoting balance and sustainability. See USDA definition. The word organic on any finished cosmetic product sold in the USA may only be used if certified to the USDA Organic Regulation. A finished cosmetic product may be called Organic without certification if it is minimally 70% organic. The finished product may be called certified if it has been awarded a certificate with a certifier. See
Organoleptic: (adj) Acting on or involving the use of the sense organs. The Organoleptic description are the words referencing the taste/smell/feeling/experience of the odor (or flavor) compound.
Palette: A limited selection of all things available. In fragrance development, a palette is the list of ingredients available to create a new perfume. Each perfume can contain just a few, or many ingredients to create its special scent.
Perfumer: A term used for an expert who creates perfumes, sometimes referred to as a Nose, due to their excellent sense of smell and skill in designing fragrance compositions.
Perfumery: (noun) A store, boutique, shop that sells and or creates perfumes. Also, the act of, and art & science of creating fragranced blends, as in the Art of Perfumery.
Rectifications: The redistillation of essential oils to rid them of impurities. The purified, redistilled oil is the rectification.
Signature Notes: The distinct attribute of a fragrance that creates the lasting impression of an ethereal description of the perfume.
Solvent: A liquid, such as alcohol, used to to extract odor molecules from flowers, leaves, twigs, pods, and other natural perfume raw materials. A volatile solvent can be removed after the extraction is completed, leaving the oil. Solvents are also required to dissolve solid, viscous, thick materials to allow them to blend in the formulation. Solvents can assist with viscosity.
Triethyl Citrate Natural is a natural solvent.
Steam Distillation: The physical process of separating odor molecules from biomatter (flowers/leaves/twigs/roots/woods/seeds/spices) to obtain the Essential Oil. One of the oldest methods, it involves the use of heat and steam to pass through the biomatter, carrying the odoriferous oils out of the physical matter, then cool and re-condense into liquid: water and oil. The oil is separated from the water via a Florentine Flask. The oil is called the Essential Oil. The water in this case is the true definition of a Hydrosol. (the byproduct of steam distillation, which still carries faint odor traces of the matter distilled). NOTE: An Essential Oil is ONLY an oil obtained via steam distillation or cold pressure extraction, as in the case of Citrus Peel Oils.
Tincture: When alcohol is used as the solvent to extract the odor molecules (or medicinal properties) from the biomatter, which is soaked in the alcohol for days or weeks in a sealed container. See also Alcohol Extract.
Top Note: The lightest, most volatile molecules of the Olfactive spectrum, evaporating quickly and reaching our noses first. They are typically notes of citrus, citrus fruits & blossoms, green notes, and volatile aldehydes, which all impart a fresh, zesty experience that creates lightness and luminosity.