Sillage (perfume)

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Sillage (UK: /sˈjɑːʒ/,[1] French: [sijaʒ] (About this soundlisten)) in perfume refers to the trail created by a perfume when it is worn on the skin. It comes from the word in French for "wake" and can best be described as how a fragrance diffuses behind the wearer as they move.

Compounds such as Hedione (methyl dihydrojasmonate) can be used to enhance the diffusivity of a fragrance. Hedione is a synthetic relative of methyl jasmonate, a naturally occurring compound in floral scents such as jasmine, tuberose and magnolia. Methyl jasmonate is also found in many other plant parts and is considered to be a signalling molecule. It is considered one of the compounds responsible for the projection of the scent in living flowers and was first fully characterised between 1957 and 1962 in jasmine absolute (0.8%) by the fragrance chemist Edouard Demole who was working at Firmenich.[2]

The first commercially successful fragrance to utilise Hedione was Eau Sauvage by perfumer Edmond Roudnitska for Christian Dior, launched in 1966. The addition of Hedione to a classically hesperidic fragrance construction created a dewy lemony magnolia-jasmine dimension without being directly floral, and gave it a new type of projection and transparency not experienced before in this type of perfume.[citation needed] This is considered to be the beginning of a new trend in perfumery towards transparency and projection.[3]

Compounds such as damascones, Iso-E super (Tetramethyl acetyloctahydronaphthalenes), linalool and some of the synthetic musks such as cashmeran may also be added to fragrances to enhance their diffusion and sillage.

A fragrance does not need to be a heavy one to have a large sillage; fragrances such as Giorgio Beverly Hills for women and Poison (Dior) are very good examples of this. Eau Sauvage and L'eau d'Issey (Jaques Cavallier for Issey Miyake) have a large sillage but may be considered much lighter examples of this.

Sillage in a perfume could also be considered to be how a fragrance is perceived by others around the wearer and is enhanced by motion, ambient temperature as well as the inherent qualities of the skin. According to an article by Mookerjee, a fragrance is perceived by the diffusion of individual fragrance molecules.[4] The rate of diffusion of these molecules in a fragrance, however, appears to be independent of their molecular weights, boiling points, odour thresholds and odour value.

Once a fragrance is applied to the skin, the skin itself becomes a substrate to the scent. The inherent scent of the individual skin,[5] moisturisation of the skin, the behaviour of the microbiome of the skin, and the temperature of the surface of the skin that the fragrance is applied to will affect the sillage or diffusion of a perfume applied to it.[6]


  1. ^ "sillage". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  2. ^ Theimer, Ernst T (2014). Fragrance Chemistry Science of the Sense of Smell, The. Elsevier Science. ISBN 9780323138604. OCLC 1044713310.
  3. ^ Berger, Ralf Günter (2012). "Scent and Chemistry. The Molecular World of Odors. By Günther Ohloff, Wilhelm Pickenhagen and Philip Kraft". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. 51 (13): 3058. doi:10.1002/anie.201201256.
  4. ^ Mookerjee, B. D; Patel, S. M; Trenkle, R. W; Wilson, R. A (1997). "Aura of Aroma: A Novel Technology to Study the Emission of Fragrance from the Skin". Special Publication- Royal Society of Chemistry. 214: 36–47. ISSN 0260-6291. OCLC 197075692.
  5. ^ Lenochová, Pavlína; Vohnoutová, Pavla; Roberts, S. Craig; Oberzaucher, Elisabeth; Grammer, Karl; Havlíček, Jan; Matsunami, Hiroaki (28 March 2012). "Psychology of Fragrance Use: Perception of Individual Odor and Perfume Blends Reveals a Mechanism for Idiosyncratic Effects on Fragrance Choice". PLoS ONE. 7 (3): e33810. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...733810L. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033810. PMC 3314678. PMID 22470479.
  6. ^ Behan, J.M.; Macmaster, A.P.; Perring, K.D.; Tuck, K.M. (October 1996). "Insight Into How Skin Changes Perfume". International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 18 (5): 237–246. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.1996.tb00154.x. PMID 19245452.