Perfumes 101 - The Notes
When you visualize a perfume you visualize it as a pyramid of an array of scents that are broken down into segments or levels of the perfume pyramid.
The scents that come together to make a perfume are divided into family groups which stand for the personality of the scent. The origins of the scents are the ones that qualify them into different family groups. The scents are categorised into types like Flora, Oriental, Fresh, Woody, Gourmand etc.
They are further categorised into sub categories like so:-
Floral: The category as the name suggests are based on scents produced from fresh cut flowers.
- Soft Floral
- Floral Oriental
Oriental: These scents transcend into the domain of spices like incense with vanilla variants, Sandalwood and Patchouli are popular Woody Oriental notes.
- Soft Oriental
- Woody Oriental
Woody: These include the scents of aromatic woods such as Moss and Leather.
- Mossy Woody
- Dry Woods
- Musky Woody
Fresh: These notes incorporate zesty and fresher notes like Bergamot, leaves and grass undertones and other non citrus fruits and food items like Caramel and Sugar.
The pyramid is divided into three parts which are the Top Notes or the Head Notes , Middle Notes or Heart Notes and Base or Dry Down Notes. These notes add depth , complexity and sophistication to this the concoction of the perfume. Every perfume is broken down into the above mentioned layers . Overtime each layer unfolds to unveil a rather richer version and deeper arrangement of the notes.
- Top / Head Notes: The top part of this pyramid is what comprise as the Top notes of the perfume blend. They are the most volatile part of the perfume and comprise of the redolence’s that you can smell at the opening of the perfume. The top notes are usually lighter notes like citrus notes of Bergamot and Lime, floral notes of Lavender or Rosemary, ozonic scents which are watery as well as airy and green notes like Galbanum etc. When you shop for a perfume this these are the notes that you take a whiff of and thus play a pivotal role in pleasing and displeasing an individual. These notes generally last 10-30 minutes before they evaporate.
Characteristics: Strong and Sharp scents
- Middle/Heart Notes: These are the notes that chart out the soul of the perfume. Their function is to retain some of the top notes’ aroma while also introducing a set of richer new scents to deepen the experience. 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, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, pepper, pine, lemongrass, black pepper and cardamom. To keep their tenacious characters, these smells are based on the base notes thus making the transition smoother and enjoyable.
Characteristics: Rounded and Mellow
- Base/ Dry Down Notes: These notes are the foundation of the perfume. They lie at the bottom of the pyramid and help in providing depth to the perfume and helping it linger on for a couple of hours. Essences that constitute the base notes are woody, gourmand or mossy notes that are stronger than the notes on the top. This notes appears within a couple of minutes of hours incase of a stronger perfume concoction and can also last for days on items of clothing. This category includes scents that are gourmand, or baked and edible scents (vanilla, cocoa and brown sugar), woody (sandalwood, patchouli and cedarwood) and musk (sweet and powdery)
Characteristics: Large and Heavy