Like wine, perfume can be really confusing. Between the lofty descriptions you see on bottles (“with an oud base that grounds the heady top notes”) and the many categories of fragrance that exist (can something be both woody and spicy?), it’s enough to give you a headache. So we took the liberty of breaking down some of those froufrou terms you might come across when shopping for a scent.
Pronounced “see-yazh,” this refers to the trail of scent left behind from a perfume. You know when someone steps off an elevator and you catch a whiff of their Chloé? Hello, sillage.
Simply put, a note is like an ingredient. Notes are divided into three categories or levels: top, middle and base. Together they make up the entire fragrance. The top note is usually the first thing you smell when you pick up a perfume bottle. As that evaporates, you get a whiff of the middle (also referred to as the “heart”) and finally, the base note (which is what lingers on your skin).
In re, that whole note-evaporation thing: That final stage of wear (when the top and middle notes give way to the base note) is the drydown. The amount of time it takes to reach the drydown—and how the drydown will smell—is unique to every individual (which is why the same perfume might smell different on you than it does on your bestie).