Fragrance Notes

A perfumer is an expert in creating perfume compositions, it's highly skilled work. Master perfumers are sometimes called a nez, the French word for nose, it goes without saying why they are referred to as this. The art of perfumery amazes me, how perfumers create the different layers of notes. Some flankers, I can smell the original DNA at the start, then composition changes and goes into a different direction, it feels like magic how fragrances can change.

What are Fragrance Notes?

Fragrance notes are the individual scent layers of ingredients that make up a fragrance. They are the building blocks of a fragrance and contribute to its overall scent profile. Fragrance notes are typically categorised into three main types: top notes, heart notes (also known as middle or mid notes), and base notes. Each note plays a specific role in the fragrance’s development and longevity.

This carefully selected blend of ingredients forms the perfume accord, the basic character of a fragrance. Perfume makers carefully select notes to make sure a fragrance both smells pleasant and evokes a certain experience. Notes are classified in a fragrance pyramid.

What Are Top Notes?

Top notes, sometimes referred to as headnotes, form the top layer of a fragrance. In other words, top notes are the scents you detect first after spraying a perfume. These play a role in setting first impressions and shaping a fragrance’s story.

Top notes usually evaporate quickly, lingering around for only the first five to fifteen minutes. Their main purpose is to give off an initial scent and then transition smoothly into the next part of the fragrance. As a result, top notes generally consist of lighter and smaller molecules.

Some common top notes include citrus scents – like lemon, orange, and bergamot – as well as light floral scents like lavender and rose. Basil and anise are also commonly used as top notes.

What are Heart Notes?

As the name suggests, heart notes make up the “heart” of the fragrance. Their function is to retain some of the top notes’ aroma while also introducing new scents to deepen the experience. Sometimes referred to as middle notes, the heart notes also serve as a buffer for the base notes, which may not smell as pleasant on their own.

Because they make up around 70 percent of the total scent, heart notes usually last longer than top notes. Heart notes appear as the top notes start to fade and remain evident for the full life of the fragrance.

Heart notes include full-bodied, aromatic floral oils like jasmine, geranium, neroli and ylang-ylang, as well as cinnamon, pepper, pine, lemongrass, black pepper and cardamom.

What are Base Notes?

Along with middle notes, base notes in perfume form the foundation of the fragrance. They help boost the lighter notes while adding more depth and resonance.

Since they form the perfume’s foundation, base notes are very rich, heavy and long lasting fragrance notes. They kick in after about 30 minutes and work together with the middle notes to create the fragrance’s scent. Since base notes sink into your skin, their scent lingers the longest and can last for six hours or more.

Popular base notes include vanilla, amber, musk, patchouli, moss and woody notes like sandalwood and cedarwood.

Tips for buying fragrances

Always try a fragrance on skin, preferably a few sprays on different parts of the body, where we have pulse points. You must let the fragrance go past the top notes, some middle notes will remain together with the base notes, in the dry down. If you really enjoy the top, middle and base notes, then that fragrance will be for you!

I have tried many fragrances once, but they were not an instant like. Sometimes, fragrances can really grow on you, if you can get the shop to give you a few samples, that’s the best way to test fragrances.

Never impulse buy with just smelling the top notes!