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Perfume Notes: What are the top, heart and base notes in a perfume?

Perfume notes is familiar subject to many but to truly understand a perfume’s structure and diverse range of ingredients can be complex and confusing. A perfume’s build up is perfectly illustrated by what is known as a Fragrance Pyramid, were the perfume notes are divided into three components: top notes, heart notes and base notes.

This simple guide will help you to discover the three components in depth, and unravel the mystery of the true complexity of perfume notes.

What are perfume fragrance notes?

The three perfume components allow us to better understand how the various perfume notes come to life and dissipate on the skin throughout the day, and how they work together to create a fragrant harmony.

Depending on your perfume knowledge, you might be able to recognize the fragrance family, or perhaps even the most recognisable perfume notes when trying out new additions to your fragrance collection.

But how do you truly delve into the fragrance’s structure, and how can you identify those key ingredients that make the scent you love so unique?

The intricate olfactory aura is difficult to get your head around, but we have created a simple guide that will help you to discover and unravel the mystery of the true complexity of perfume notes.

 

 

The chemistry of ingredients and the skin

The chemistry of the skin and the raw materials used during creation causes the perfume to evolve throughout the day, introducing you to the different perfume notes. This is why your initial impression of a scent may change as the day goes by.

The more concentrated a perfume is and the greater complexity a perfume has, are both factors that allows a perfume to unravel more slowly and evolve with a different olfactive journey over time.

Each perfume note and ingredient have their own purpose and will react differently with one another when blended together, resulting in a unique fragrance accord of a perfume. A master perfumer will create these blends to ensure a fragrance sings in harmony throughout top, heart and base.

 

Top notes

Top notes can be described as the first impression of a perfume, and these perfume notes are also the first ones to leave your skin after you spritz.

These opening notes of a fragrance are often recognized as light, sharp and fresh notes, such as citrusy notes like lemon or bergamot, or refreshing hints of green fruity or natural notes that will add a crisp lift to the scent.

A longtime favorite from Clive Christian Perfume’s portfolio where you’ll find sparkling Bergamot bring in a zesty kick to a spicy fougere i Immortelle from the Noble Collection.

When spraying on a perfume, it will start to settle after about 5 minutes after the perfume finds its place on your skin. Top notes are the most volatile in the Fragrance pyramid and consist of light molecules that tend to evaporate from your skin within 1 to 2 hours.

Heart notes

As the name suggests, Heart notes or middle notes form the heart of your perfume, and the rich body of the olfactory built up.

These perfume notes are the main character of a perfume, the scent you smell after the perfume has settled on your skin after a few hours of wear.

Heart notes shapes the perfume to become even more alluring with time and will usually linger on your skin for between 6 to 8 hours post application, dependent on the perfume concentration.

We often find some of the most popular notes from within the floral family in the heart, such as delicate rose absolute or the spicier rose oil and lily of the valley of jasmine, creating delicate rose and jasmine perfumes.

Clive Christian’s beloved Vanilla Orchid from our Noble Collection is an example of such a scent, capturing the beautiful Muguet floral in the heart of the scent, a flower which is often used in bridal bouquets. The perfume’s explosive floral heart makes the most perfect balance with its sweet Vanilla base, resting on woody notes.

Base Notes

Base notes in a perfume form the foundation on which the entire perfume is built, providing the last impression of the scent.

These are the notes that are here to remember, that will transport you back to a beloved memory where the exact note impacted your spirit. Base notes come into play towards the end of the heart notes, adding depth and fullness to a fragrance, lasting for up to 12 to 24 hours in the most concentrated perfumes.

Common base notes are mossy woods, musks, amber and gourmande notes which can be found in several of our most loved fragrances. For gourmande notes, our Noble VIII Cosmos Flower makes the perfect selection. A beautifully feminine perfume with dark cocoa in its base, bringing on a bitter edge to the scent in playful harmony with the cosmos flower.

For the spicy woody family, the other half of our Noble VIII pair, Immortelle impresses with the complex papyrus bote in its base, a complex note that begins with touches of sweetness and salt, but dies down to reveal a dry, woody scent that lends an austere, calm note when used in a fragrance.

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