Fragrance 101: Making Sense of Scents

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Fragrance

Fragrance 101: Making Sense of Scents

Fragrances typically have 3 levels of notes. Understanding the role of each of these notes will be helpful when you test your next fragrance

Chances are that you've experienced the powerful and emotional response certain scents can evoke, and you've probably spent some time finding one that represents your unique style.

But how do a few molecules combine to create such a powerful reaction? Every perfumer has a unique philosophy about how to create a great fragrance, but there are a few basics that are used throughout the industry.

Essentially, what we experience when we try a new fragrance is a combination of what perfumers refer to as "notes". Notes are made from a precise blend of raw materials that belong in the same olfactive family. Think of an olfactive family as the dominant shared note of the materials - such as citrus, floral, or woody.

The fragrances we wear typically have three levels of notes. Understanding the role of each of these notes will be helpful when you test your next fragrance.

Fragrance Notes Pyramid

Top notes
are what you might sense first when you open the bottle or spray a bit on your wrist. Top notes say hello and give you a quick first impression of the fragrance.

Middle notes
create the heart of a fragrance. You may not sense them right away. Depending on the type of fragrance, these notes may make their appearance within two minutes or slowly announce themselves an hour after you apply your perfume.

Bottom notes
combine with middle notes to create the main body, or theme, of a fragrance. These notes are the ones that linger and give a lasting impression. Often heavy, warm and subdued, the bottom notes of most scents typically belong to the woody, mossy, spicy or musky fragrance families. You'll typically sense these rich, deep notes about 30 minutes after you apply your perfume.