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Sil-a, Sil-er, Sil-what? What’s Sillage (and How to Say It)?

fragrance facts Q&A science of scent

As you sip your morning coffee in bed, you catch a hint of your partner’s cologne as he dresses for the day - and your heart skips a beat.

Your tummy growls as you pass a bakery, picking up the unmistakable fragrance of warm, freshly baked bread.

As your coworker walks by your office, you can’t help but ask, “what is that gorgeous perfume she has on today?”

These experiences are all the result of an important component of scent: sillage - and if you’ve never heard of it before (or have no clue how to pronounce it), don’t worry! We’ll explain.

The Connection of Sillage to Scent

What’s Sillage?

Sillage (pronounced “see-yazh”) is the French word for “wake” or “trail”, but when it comes to the science of scent, it’s the degree to which your perfume or cologne lingers in the air when worn. Every fragrance has a degree of sillage and it’s up to you to find one that matches your desired effect.

How Does Sillage Work?

Much like how an actor may use his voice to project sound in a crowded auditorium, sillage is all projecting your fragrance to a desired distance.

In our earlier post when we talked about perfume notes, we described how when perfume is worn, it evaporates and interacts with your skin, producing a scent that’s unique to you and your body’s chemistry. As your fragrance evaporates, you experience each of its notes.

Sillage is all about how those notes are experienced by you and those around you as your perfume or cologne evaporates.

Choosing the Right Scent Sillage in Perfume or Cologne

How Can I Use Sillage When Choosing a Fragrance?

If you want to make a statement with your scent, you would choose something with a strong sillage - meaning those around you will be able to pick up on the scent easily. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the scent itself is strong - in fact, some floral perfumes can be light, airy and have a strong sillage! Instead, think of this more in terms of distance - do you want your scent to shine in a crowded room?

If you’d prefer something more intimate, a scent that evaporates with a gentle sillage may be the better pick. These fragrances will stay close to your skin and are well suited to environments where you may be close to others, such as at a movie theater or in an office setting, or if you’d prefer to have your scent be more understated.

At NOTE, we have a variety of fragrances to suit your sillage preferences, whether you’re looking for something subtle, bold, or anywhere in between! Stop in to our custom perfume studio or contact us to learn more about sillage and how you can find the perfect eau de parfum or cologne to match your preference.



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