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Perfume Notes: How They Make Up Your Favourite Scent + 4 FAQ

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Perfume is an essential component of many people’s fashion style. Whether you use it for a date night or a workday, a fragrance helps project a certain aura. 

But there’s more to fragrance than just the scent itself. Perfume consists of a variety of different notes that create the overall aroma. Each has its unique properties and contributes to the overall scent in its own way. 

In this article, we’ll tell you more about perfume notes and how they enrich your favourite fragrances.

What Are Fragrance Notes?

Perfume notes are the individual scents that make up the perfume. They’re divided into three categories: top notes, heart notes, and base notes

Essentially, the notes of a perfume are different layers of scent that are released over time. Each type of note serves a different purpose in the formula. Once you understand how these different levels work together, you can choose a perfume that suits your desired fragrance profile. 

Whether you’re looking for a light and airy scent or a rich and complex aroma, understanding fragrance families and notes is the key to finding your perfect match.

1. Top Notes

When you first spray perfume, the initial blast of fragrance is composed of the top notes

These volatile aromas evaporate quickly, lasting from five to 15 minutes. They pave the way for the heart and base notes to take centre stage. 

The top notes of the perfume are typically light, fresh, and inviting scents like citrus (lemon or orange), green leaves (basil), or floral bouquets (lavender or rose). 

They’re designed to pique your interest and make a lasting first impression. While they may not be as complex as the heart or base notes, top notes play an important role in setting the tone of the perfume and making it enticing.

2. Heart Notes

The heart notes of the perfume are the main body of the scent. They tend to be heavier and more intense than the top notes.

The heart notes make up about 70% of the perfume and typically last for 20 to 60 minutes. 

They help to round out the overall fragrance and give it depth and character. Their purpose is to uphold some of the top scents while introducing new fragrances to enhance the experience. 

The heart notes, sometimes known as middle notes, serve as a buffer for the base notes, which may not smell so nice on their own.

Common heart notes include floral scents like jasmine, geranium, or neroli, and spicy and woodsy scents such as cinnamon, pepper, pine, or cardamon.

3. Base Notes

The base notes of a perfume are the heaviest, longest-lasting scents. Together with middle notes, they form the fragrance’s foundation and assist in enhancing the lighter tones while also adding depth and resonance. Base notes typically include woods like sandalwood and cedarwood, as well as vanilla, amber, musk, and moss.

After around 30 minutes, the heart notes fade and the base notes take over. They work together with the middle notes to give the fragrance its scent. That scent is one of the things that makes perfume last longer, even for six hours or more.

Different types of perfumes have various levels of base notes in them. If you compare eau de toilette and eau de parfum, for example, you’ll see that EDT has 8% to 15% of fragrance oil, while EDP has 15% to 30%. This higher concentration means that eau de parfum is stronger and longer-lasting.

Because they’re so strong, perfume base notes are usually used sparingly. A little goes a long way when it comes to these scents.

Perfume Notes - Glass Flower Bottles with Liquid

4. How to Recognise Perfume Notes

When you first spray on perfume, you might be able to smell only one or two dominant fragrance notes. However, as the liquid starts to dry on your skin, less noticeable notes will begin to emerge. This is because different types of perfume ingredients evaporate at different rates. 

The top notes, which are usually lighter and have more floral scents, will disappear first. Next, the heart notes, which are richer and more complex, will start to become apparent. Finally, the base notes, which tend to be heavier and have more musky scents, will linger the longest.

You can find the notes of your favourite perfume online or on the packaging, in the form of a pyramid. At the tip of the pyramid are the top notes, since they’re the first ones to appear and disappear. The heart notes are in the middle section. The heaviest base component is in the base of the pyramid, supporting all prior notes and grounding the scent.

By understanding the structure of notes in perfume, you can get a better sense of how a fragrance will develop over time. So next time you’re trying out a new perfume, see if you can identify all of the different notes!

Final Thoughts

Perfume is a mixture of scents that can help us leave an amazing first impression. There’s a wide range of fragrances to choose from: a floral perfume might be made up of rose, jasmine, and orange blossom scents, while a woody one might be made of cedar and sandalwood. By combining different scents, you can create a unique fragrance that represents your personality.

Some perfume notes are generally more popular than others, but it’s up to you to decide what scent you like the best. Experiment with different fragrances and see what works for you.


What are notes in perfumes?

Notes are the different scents that make up the perfume. There are three main types: top, heart, and base. The structure of the perfume is presented in the form of a pyramid. The top notes are at the top, followed by heart notes and finally base notes.

What are the 3 main notes of every fragrance?

The three main notes of a fragrance are the top, heart, and base notes. The top notes are usually the lightest and most floral scents. The heart notes are usually richer and more complex. The base notes tend to be heavier and have more musky scents. They last the longest and form the foundation of the scent.

How do you identify perfume notes?

The best way to identify perfume notes is to spray the perfume on your skin and wait for it to dry. As it dries, you’ll be able to smell different notes as they emerge. Another way to identify perfume notes is to look at the structure of the fragrance. Most fragrances are presented in the form of a pyramid, with the top notes at the top, followed by the heart and base notes.

How do you mix perfume notes?

When mixing perfume notes, you want to create a balance between the different scents. You don’t want one scent to overpower the others. Start with a small amount of each scent and add more until you find the perfect balance.

As a general guideline, start by layering fragrances that are in the same scent family, such as woody, floral, oriental, fresh, and citrus. The majority of ‘safe’ notes, such as vanilla, musk, and citrus scents, also work well for layering the scent.

How long do perfume top notes last?

The top perfume notes usually last for about 15 minutes. After that, the middle and base notes start to become apparent.