"Sillage", a perfume term explained

Have you ever heard of the word "sillage" when evoking a perfume?

"Sillage“ is the French word for "wake of a ship", to pronounce ‘see-yaj’ (siːˈjɑːʒ). It's used in perfumery to evoke a scent "trail", "tail" or if you wish, the fragrant aura left in the air by the wearer passing by.

A perfume sillage is the length of time that a scent lingers, disperses after the person is gone. It has a movement, a dynamic factor when the wearer moves and walks, and changes accordingly.


EDP (eau de parfum) and extraits de parfum have a longer sillage as they are composed with a higher concentration of oils made with persistent base notes. They are also closer to the body due the oil level and dissipate slower as these thick essences are not absorbed by the skin, last longer and have a greater sillage than an EDT (eau de toilette) containing a larger amount of alcohol that evaporates.

Also, it’s a perfume sillage that is responsible for the olfactive phenomenon triggering memories and emotions, illustrated by the famous madeleine de Proust called the “Proustian effect” happening every time you detected in the air a scent trail reminding you of someone or something.

How to measure, increase, or reduce a sillage?

To measure a perfume sillage, spray 1-2 times an empty room and come back after 15 minutes to assess the strength of the scent trail.

To increase it on your body, apply on pulse points to allow the warmth of the blood to improve scent dispersion.

To reduce it, dab your skin with a tissue paper to remove the oils left on.