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Describing Scents Made Simple: Essential Perfume Descriptors

We all know how incredibly challenging it can be to describe a scent accurately. Whether you're a perfume enthusiast, a budding fragrance creator, or simply someone trying to articulate the allure of a favorite scent, finding the right words can be daunting. To help you in your endeavor, we've compiled a list of the most common scent descriptors. These terms will enable you to convey the essence of a fragrance with precision and flair. Dive into this guide and enhance your ability to discuss and appreciate the world of scents.



Amber: Originally a classic composition of Vanillin + Labdanum + Benzoin. Today, "amber" is commonly used as a scent descriptor for warm, sweet, and resinous notes or blends. Despite the name, it has no relation to the amber stone.

Aromatic: Fresh, dark green and camphoraceous, associated with herbs such as sage, thyme or rosemary.


Aquatic: Fresh and watery, reminiscent of the sea or freshwater lakes.


Citrusy: Bright and zesty, reminiscent of citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and grapefruit.


Creamy: Smooth and rich, resembling the texture and smell of cream.


Earthy: Reminiscent of soil, woods, and nature, often with a damp or musty quality.


Floral: Resembling the scent of flowers, such as roses, jasmine, or lilies.


Fruity: Reminiscent of fresh or ripe fruits, excluding citrus, such as berries, apples, or peaches.


Gourmand: Means Yummy in French. Rich and edible-smelling, often with notes of cakes, desserts and sweets.


Green: Fresh and leafy, reminiscent of grass, leaves, and foliage.


Leathery: Rich and deep, reminiscent of leather or suede and often adding a rugged quality.


Metallic: Sharp and cool, reminiscent of metal or minerals.


Musky: Animalistic for grey Musks, sappy and heady for Egyptians Musks,  and clean and fluffy for white Musks, often used to add depth, longevity and warmth.


Ozonic: Fresh, airy and clean, reminiscent of the air after a thunderstorm.


Powdery: Soft and dry, reminiscent of the texture of talcum powder.


Resinous: Thick and sticky, reminiscent of tree sap or resins.


Sharp: Distinct, incisive, and crisp, reminiscent of the precision of a knife's edge, frequently linked to a cool, metallic sensation. 


Smoky: Reminiscent of smoke, ash or burnt wood, adding depth and warmth.


Soft: Gentle and mild, not overpowering, often with a subtle presence.


Spicy: Warm and piquant, often with notes of spices like cinnamon, clove, saffron and pepper.


Sweet: Sugary and pleasant, often with notes of vanilla, caramel, candies, or treats.


Warm: Invoking a sense of warmth and comfort, often with spices or woody notes.


Woody: Evocative of woods and forest, often with notes of cedar, sandalwood, or pine.


In Conclusion about perfume descriptors

Everyone will have their own slightly different definition of these descriptors, but this list will greatly assist many in articulating and understanding scents. This compilation was inspired by the numerous requests I received during the workshops I held. I took it upon myself to create this list of descriptors and make it available to everyone to bring more knowledge to people and provide a better way to talk about scents. Of course, there are many more descriptors out there, but this is a good starting point for building up perfume knowledge. Feel free to add more descriptors in the comment section and join the conversation!




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