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Understanding fragrance notes

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Understanding fragrance notes

What is the fragrance pyramid? What are top notes? How do you distinguish between fragrance notes? Learn all about fragrance notes to help you pick the perfect perfume for you.

What is the fragrance pyramid?

Think of perfume notes as the ingredients in a perfume recipe. This unique combination of notes creates the basic character of a fragrance. Every note is carefully selected by the perfumer in order to evoke a specific experience or sensation.

The fragrance pyramid breaks up each note into three basic categories. These categories are top notes, heart notes, and base notes. The pyramid is divided into these three categories that correspond with the evaporation and duration of the fragrance, which captures the wear and experience of each perfume.

Fragrance pyramid

What are top notes?

Top notes are the initial scents that draw you into a new fragrance. They provide the initial spark and give the first impression of the perfume. They tend to be comprised of smaller molecules meaning that they evaporate first, and then seamlessly transition into the next layer of the fragrance. Top notes are also referred to as head notes.

Top notes are meant to catch our attention and therefore tend to be lighter to open us up to the fragrance. Popular top notes include citruses like lemon or bergamot, as well as florals like rose and lavender.

What are heart notes?

As the name suggests, heart notes compose the ‘heart’ or main character of the perfume. These notes heighten the experience of the top notes by introducing us to new components to capture our senses. Heart notes are full-bodied, rounder, and denser. They comprise the vast majority of a perfume, and act as a buffer for the base notes.

Heart notes can also be called middle notes. Some common heart notes include cardamon, jasmine, black pepper, and cinnamon.

Heart notes make up the main character of a fragrance

(Heart notes make up the main character of a fragrance)


What are base notes?

In tandem with the heart notes, base notes form the foundation of a perfume. They are very rich and smooth. Base notes become evident after at least half an hour of wearing a fragrance. These notes work with the heart notes to create a full-bodied fragrance. They are also the long-lasting of all the fragrance notes. Therefore, base notes provide a lasting impression by adding depth as the scent lingers on your skin.

Common base notes include cedarwood, patchouli, vanilla, and musk.

What are the fragrance notes in your go-to perfume?

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