Perhaps you’ve noticed that most fragrances prominently list their notes somewhere. On the packaging, on their website, on the materials included with the perfume… somewhere. Maybe even all of those places.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that we do not.

Oh, sure, we list them on our product pages, but they’re pretty far down said pages, and even then they’re prefaced by some notable caveats. But they’re not on the bottle. Or on our scent cards. And at some point, perhaps you’ve wondered why that is.

We’ll explain why in a moment, but first we want to explain what, exactly, is a note. Much like a musical composition, fragrances are made up of notes or, simply put, raw materials. There are top notes (what you smell first), middle notes (the so-called heart of a fragrance), and the base notes (the ones that linger the longest).

Just like combining several notes in music produces a chord, combining notes in fragrance creates an accord. The raw materials can be just about anything—and unlike most fragrance brands, we actually disclose our ingredients—but the ultimate combination is what defines a scent. And because fragrance interacts with skin, a particular scent will evolve throughout its wear, drifting between accords and notes much like a musical composition segues from verse to chorus and back again.

So why are we so coy about our notes? Because we believe with a passion that fragrance is personal. And again, to use the music comparison, all that matters is what you like. Some people enjoy the complex melodies of Mozart, others the mind-bending harmonies of the Beatles. Some people dig the “wrong” notes of free jazz, while others groove on the lyrical invention of Kendrick Lamar. Most people enjoy some combination of those things and more.

Which brings us back to fragrance. Some people claim to like strong florals, or to have a nose for citrus. But most people like some combination of those things, and we think a better way to understand our fragrances is through the words, music and images you’ll find on our site. So while, say, Moab is built on notes of pepper, vanilla and more, the end result is arid and spicy, reminiscent of a long road trip through the desert. You wouldn’t get that picture from notes alone.

But even then: the only opinion that matters is yours. That’s why we invite you to try our fragrances at home, the way you wear them in real life. Maybe to you, Moab smells nothing like its namesake desert. Maybe to you, it’s more like a creamy journey through a garden of jasmine. And you know what? You wouldn’t be wrong.

If you have more questions about this or other fragrancy jaron—or if you want to let us know what we got right or wrong in our scent descriptions—please let us know at support@phlur.com.