Sandalwood is an oil extracted from the heartwood of the Sandal tree, originally found in India. One of the oldest known perfumery ingredients, the powdered wood is also used to make incense.


The orchid family is the largest of all plant families on Earth with over 35,000 species. It is grown in every part of the world - excluding the poles - but it is found mainly in the tropics. However, for all its varied and exotic species, it is the humble ‘military’ or ‘soldier’ orchid, Orchis militaris from which the essence is produced. To get the essential oil from the orchid, the flowers treated with a volatile solvent - which slows the growth of the plant. The natural essence is very costly; consequently, most orchid notes used in perfumes today are synthetic.


A variety of Gardenia, Gardenia tahitensis. It has small white petals and a very heady aroma. It is often used in white floral fragrances to impart a delicate richness. 


The name ylang-ylang means 'flower of flowers'. It is a tree that grows in Asia with yellow tendril-like flowers from which a pale yellow oil is extracted. Ylang-ylang has an intensely strong fragrance with a sweet, slightly spicy, and intense aroma.


Classic woody scents have harmonies of cedar, patchouli, pine, sandalwood and vetiver as their dominant theme. However, a new palette of exotic wood notes, often cloned from headspace technology, has stimulated greater creativity in this fragrance category. 


Vanilla comes from a rare climbing orchid originally found in Mexico. The vanilla orchid’s trumpet-shaped flowers blossom for only one day. The green pods take up to nine months to develop - and the pods are picked, fermented, and sun-dried until they become the familiar dark brown bean. Once dried, the vanilla bean begins to emit its rich fragrance. Vanilla has a rich, warm and sweet aroma and it is prominently featured in gourmand fragrances.


Vetiver is a type of grass with heavy fibrous roots. The essential oils are steamed extracted from the dried roots and the oil is extremely viscous and ranges in color from dark brown to amber. It has an earthy, wood-smoke aroma with gentle notes that are reminiscent of sweet violets and orris.


Tuberose is a member of the lily family and it is native to Mexico and other Central American areas, as well as Indonesia. The majority of tuberose absolute is produced in Morocco, India, China, the Comores Islands, Hawaii, and South Africa. It has powerful fragrance which is considered an aphrodisiac. Like jasmine, it continues to produce its aromatic oils for two days after they are picked which lends itself as a perfect candidate to the traditional painstaking enfleurage method. It requires 3,600 pounds of blossoms to produce 1 pound (lb) of tuberose absolute which is why tuberose oil is among the most expensive in perfumery, at more than $2,000 per pound.


Rose oil, also known as attar of roses or rose absolute, is the essential oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose. Attar of roses is extracted through steam distillation while rose absolutes are obtained through solvent extraction or supercritical carbon dioxide extraction. Due to the labor-intensive production process and the low content of oil in the rose blooms, rose oil commands a very high price. Harvesting of flowers is done by hand in the morning before sunrise and the material is distilled the same day. It takes many pounds of rose petals to distill one ounce of essential oil.


A bushy shrub originally from Malaysia and India. Supposedly the leaves were folded into the cashmere shawls shipped from India to England during Victorian times in order to protect the fabric from moths. Over time the scent became a badge of authenticity and customers refused to buy unscented shawls. Patchouli has a musty-sweet, spicy aroma.


A lichen grown on oak trees. Its odor is earthy, woody and slightly leathery. It is used as a fixative in many blends, especially chypre.


Also called 'Neroli Bigarde' or 'Orange Blossom'. It is one of the most expensive essential oils because it takes over a ton of blossoms to yield 1kg of oil. The oil has a lighter colour and fragrance than orange blossom absolute. True neroli is created using steam distillation, whereas orange blossom absolute is usually extracted with solvents. The story goes that it was discovered in the late seventeenth century and introduced to France by Anna Maria de la Tremoille- Noirmoutier, Princess of Neroli who used it to scent her gloves. 


This fragrance is obtained from the musk deer, moschus moschiferus, which live in the remote mountains of Central Asia and the Himalayas. It only is produced during rutting season and it is one of the most expensive ingredients derived from an animal. It is one of the most potent and longlasting of scent additives. 


This scent is extracted from a solvent of oak moss and tree moss. Mosses produce absolutes indispensable to chypre fragrances. Mossy nuances are very complex and can have, along with the basic moss element, algae-like, leathery, woody and other characteristics. Their ability to give fragrances substance and depth make them very popular among perfumers. 


The commercial name given to trees of the acacia genus, part of the legume family. The essential oil is steam extracted from the flower or from the resin of the tree - both of which have floral notes. A green floral essence obtained from mimosa tree flowers and stems. It imparts a smooth, sweet aroma.


Melons have a sweet and floral scent which have proved to be an ideal note for youthful and floral-fruity styles of fragrances. Because it is hard to derive a quantity of fragrant oil from melons or watermelon, most of the notes in modern fruity-floral perfumes are synthetically produced.

Lily of the Valley:

Of the genus convallaria majalis, this flower has a surprisingly pervasive perfume for such a delicately flowered plant. It is also known as May Lily, ladder-to-heaven, Jacob's ladder, and Our Lady's tears. 


Called the king of flowers, jasmine is a sweet tiny white flower with a vibrant, smooth aroma. Jasmine is one of the most prized essences in the perfumer's palette. It is grown in France, Morocco, India, Egypt and Spain and must be harvested before sunrise to retain the full amount of its delicate fragrance. The delicate white flowers open at night to release their sweet and very intense smell; during the day the petals close. Once the flowers have been picked at dawn, they must be processed immediately to obtain the essential oil. Because of its limited quality, the essential oil is very costly - especially because the scent cannot be synthetically reproduced. 

Hesperidia Notes:

A general term for citrus oils with notes of mandarin and bergamot.


Honeysuckle belongs to the lonicera family. There are over 200 varieties in the lonicera family but the essential oils are extracted from mainly L. caprifolium or L. periclymenon. Honeysuckle essence is extremely costly to produce and its natural essence is rarely used in perfumery due to its prohibitive price. Thus, virtually all honeysuckle notes used in perfumery are created from synthetic compounds of floral essences and chemicals.


Botanically speaking, this refers to more than one type of flower, but in perfumery, it refers to a flowers of the family heliotropium. The flowers have a distinctive almond odor with undertones of vanilla pastry. In the Victorian language of flowers, heliotrope stood for devotion. 


Gardenias were originally found in China - now they are grown all over the world. Only recently have chemists found a way of extracting the essential oils from the fresh flowers. The oil from fresh flowers is a rich, dark, and oily, yellow liquid that blends very well with other floral fragrances.


It is a French word meaning 'fern'. Fragrance accords result from a harmonious blend of fernlike notes blended with herbal notes such as lavender.  The fern notes comes from lavender from the South of France, labdanum resin from Spain, coumarin taken from the bean of Tonka trees grown in Venezula, bergamot and geranium oil from the Island of Reunion. Typically, there are also citrus and tobacco notes. 


The genus ficus has numerous species but it is from F. carica, known as the common or goat fig, that the scent is obtained from. The oil is derived from all parts of the plant. The leaves have a green fresh fragrance; the fresh fruits a soft sweet-sour fragrance and the dried fruit an intensive highly concentrated sweet fragrance. All parts are used by perfumers but the scent of the fruit is preferred.

Clary Sage:

Clary Sage oil is obtained from the Clary plant salvia sclarea. It is a meadow-sage herb with a sweetish minty citrus aroma and  is described as smelling sweet to bittersweet, with nuances of amber, hay and tobacco.


Citrus describes a wide range of scents that come from the zest of lemons, mandarins, bergamot, oranges and grapefruit. The citrus oils lend fragrances a distinctive tangy aroma that is often described as "fresh".


Pronounced "sheepra", French for "Cyprus" and first used by François Coty to describe the aromas he found on the island of Cyprus. He created a woodsy, mossy, citrusy perfume named Chypre. Classic chypre fragrances generally have sparkling citrus and floral notes over a dark, earthy base of oakmoss, patchouli, woods and labdanum.


The essential oil of bergamot is expressed from the nearly ripe, nonedible bergamot orange (a variety of bitter orange). The oranges are grown mostly in Italy and are also used to flavor Earl Grey tea. The essential oil is extracted from the peel by expression, a light greenish-yellow liquid that has a strong, tangy, sweet, fruity note with balsamic spicy undertones.


Ambergris is a French word which means 'grey amber'. It is found in oily grey lumps excreted from the stomachs of sperm whales, physeter macrocephalus, which was nearly hunted to extinction in the early 1900's. Ambergris was traditionally used as a fixative, but in modern perfumery, ambergris is usually synthetic (including the synthetic compounds ambrox, ambroxan, amberlyn).  Fresh ambergris has an unpleasant smell but over time develops a velvety and warm perfume. Ambergris is described as having a sweet, woody odor.


In perfumery, this refers to accords developed using plant compounds (such as labdanum) or synthetics. This scent is called amber because it was originally meant to mimic the scent of ambergris. In perfumery, amber does not refer to the semiprecious gem.



Aldehydes describe a group of synthetic notes cloned from nature that bring strength and vibrancy to a fragrance. Aldehydes were first used in Chanel 'No 5'. They have an animalic, powdery, and slightly woody note that enhances floral bouquets.


From the Aquilaria tree, and also called Oud or Aloes wood. The tree, when attacked by a common fungus, produces an aromatic resin that has long been used in the Middle East as a source of incense and perfume. A high-quality piece of agarwood will sink in water. Today, Agarwood is an extremely rare and precious oil; the Co2 extract is a very viscous, very dark brown oil. The wild trees are very rare, having been severely over harvested, but the oil is now making a comeback due to the foresight of a few families in Assam who are planting large plantations of the tree.

Lisa Hoffman Beauty is dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability. The agarwood notes used in our perfume oils are derived from "ScentTrek" impressions.  

Types of Perfumes:

There are four different types of perfume that are labeled according to the strength of the fragrance - specifically the ratio of how much alcohol and/or water has been added to the fragrance oils. The four types are described below in order of strength:

Perfume Oil (Parfum): This contains the highest concentration of fragrance oils dissolved in alcohol or water. Perfume oil typically is composed of 15-30% fragrance oil in a oil base, rather than alcohol or water. Perfume oils will last at least six hours on the wearer. Very few fragrances are commercially available as perfume oils because of their costly price.

EDP (Eau de Parfum): An EDP will typically contain anywhere from 8-15% perfume oil in an alcohol/water base. This type of perfume is commonly available due to its popularity. EDPs will last three to five hours, depending on the wearer and their body chemistry.

EDT (Eau de Toilette): An EDT usually contains 4-10% perfume oil in an alcohol/water base. EDTs are generally the strongest concentration available in men's fragrance and last three to four hours.

EDC (Eau de Cologne): An EDC contains 2-5% perfume oil in an alcohol/water base. EDCs were once a very popular concentration in women's fragrance, but they have given way to EDPs. An EDC will usually last up to three hours.

Perfume Families:

Fragrances are divided into similar types; many belong to more than one family but most fragrances have one or two dominating family notes and are classified accordingly.

Citrus Family: Revolves around such fruits as lemon, lime, mandarin, bergamot and grapefruit.

Gourmand Family: These fragrances are a relatively new category, with the concept of basing fragrances on edible notes. A gourmand scent may contain notes such as spices, honey, vanilla, chocolate, amber and cinnamon. Gourmand scents are usually "comfy" and delicious and wear nicely in the cooler seasons.

Floral Family: This family is the largest of the groupings and it is often is based on a single flower for its classification. However, it includes not only single floral notes but floral also bouquets like rose and jasmine. 

Fruity Floral Family: This is a modern outgrowth of the Floral Family. These fragrances are comprised of blending traditional floral notes with the youthful addition of fruity notes such as peach and melon.

Floriental Family: This family is a lighter variant of the typically heavy Oriental type of perfume, which accentuates floral notes. Orange flowers, vanilla, white pepper, sweet spices mixed with florals create a beautifully sensual scent with depth and complexity.

Oriental Family: Orientals are one of the more intense, longer lasting fragrance groups. Warm, sensual, exotic, and spicy, orientals are composed of rich notes such as musk, vanilla, balsam, and oakmoss.

Powdery Family: Reminiscent of the smell of powders. Not necessarily a particular powder like a typical baby powder scent, but they give the impression of a soft scent.

Woody/Chypre Family: These families are based on sandalwood, patchouli, cedar wood, pine, tambouti wood, etc. They are characterised by an accord composed of citrus top-notes, a floral middle, and a mossy-animalic basenote derived from oak moss and musks.

Green Family:  A more recent family, it includes notes that are based on herbs or leaves. The fougère family is categorized as a green scent and has fresh, herbaceous notes on a mossy base.

Watery/Aquatic Family: This refers to scents that smell fresh and watery. These fragarances evoke scents that can range from the ocean to rain to water.


Volatility refers to how long a fragrance remains perceptibly fragrant. Individual fragrance notes are classified as either top, middle, or base notes according to their lasting impression. A fragrance note that disappears quickly is classified as a top note because it has low volatility. Conversely, if a fragrance note leaves a long lasting impression it is often described as a base note because it has high volatility.

Perfume Composition:

The composition of a fragrance is generally divided into three parts, called notes. The various notes of a fragrance are divided into either top, middle, or base note according to the lasting strength of each individual note.

Top Notes: Are the fragrances that are perceived a few minutes after the application of a perfume. Top notes create the scents that forms a person's initial impression of a perfume. Because of this, they are very important in the selling of a perfume. The scents of this note class are usually described as "fresh", "assertive" or "sharp". The compounds that contribute to top notes are strong in aroma, very volatile, and evaporate quickly.

Middle Notes: Are the essential character or the body of the fragrance to smooth the sharpness from the initial impression of perfume caused by the top notes. Not surprisingly, middle note compounds are usually more mellow and "rounded". Scents from this note class appear anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour after the application of a perfume.

Base Notes: Are the aroma a perfume that appears after the departure of the heart notes; they bring depth and solidness to a perfume. Compounds of this class are usually the fixatives used to hold and bolster the strength of the lighter top and heart notes. The compounds of this class of scents are typically rich and "deep" and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after the application of the perfume or during the period perfume dry-down.


A perfume accord is a balanced mixture of notes which are blended together to create a completely new and unified odor impression.



ScentTrek is a patented process that uses Headspace technology to capture the scent or ordor of a substance. This has allowed perfumers to mimic the notes of flowers, plants, and foods which do not lend themselves otherwise to extraction. The ScentTrek process also promotes sustainability because it does not destroy the plant - which traditional methods often require. 


A "nose", or nez in French, is a person who mixes fragrance components to make perfume; another commonly used term is perfumer, or in French, parfumeur createur.


Mouilettes are the paper strips a perfumer, or nose, uses to sample a fragrance; from these strips perfume sample cards developed. Mouilettes are an invaluable tool to a perfumer because fragrances can often be too harsh or volatile when sampled directly from the bottle.


A lecythiophile is a collector of perfumes. The word "lecythe" comes from the Greek word "lêkuthos", which is a type of Greek pottery in which one put perfumes and precious oils, and "phile" which is derived from the Greek word for love.

Headspace Technology:

A method of "capturing" the odor of a substance using an apparatus resembling a bell-jar. The different fragrance & flavor companies have their own fragrance capture systems based on headspace technology, including ScentTrek (Givaudan), Jungle Essence (Mane), NaturePrint (Firmenich).

Fragrance Organ:

The fragrance organ is a perfumer's working area. A perfumer often has hundreds of essences at their disposal to create new scents or aromas. The fragrance materials the perfumer uses in their work are arranged around them in tiers, like the pipes of an organ around an organist.


The art of distillation was brought by the Moguls from Arabia to India; the first description of the distillation of rose petals was written by the ninth-century philosopher al-Kindi. Today, steam distillation is the most commonly used technique to extract essential oils. After the steam process and after cooling, the essential oils are separated from the distilled water.