Perfumes are and will always remain an indispensable element in our everyday fashion. Whether you’re Marilyn Monroe donning Chanel No. 5. to bed, or generously spritzing it on for a day at the office to suffocate that one co-worker. Or even to a special dinner date at your favorite restaurant, or you just happen to have a secret obsession for scents like Tom Tykwer’s Perfume character, fragrances have this strong ability to give us a special aura, and power.
How we respond to certain scents(from perfumes to body baths, lotions, or scented candles) is a deeply personal experience. It’s a reflection not only of our preferences and identity but also of the memories we associate with that particular scent. But what makes perfumes special? It’s all about the notes. Just like notes are rudimentary to creating a song, perfume notes are the elementary units that form a heavenly fragrance.
What are the Notes of a Perfume?
So, what exactly are top, middle, and base perfume notes?. Well, think of them as different layers of a scent—unfurling with time as you perceive them. Wearing a combination of these notes in your perfumes can turn a simple scent into something unique, rich, and special.
Each perfume carries its special scent, a combination of different glamorous notes. Each note evokes a feeling deep within the wearer of the perfume. These notes are categorized into three groups: top notes, middle or heart notes, and base notes. We’ve put together a guide that will help you to better understand the notes in your favorite perfumes.
Top Perfume Notes
In the olfactory pyramid you pictured above, right at the peak are the top notes. These are the first impressions that last around 5-15 minutes. Think of zesty citrus oils like lemon, grapefruit, and yuzu, as best perfume notes for top notes. They’re like the opening act of a perfume, either drawing you in or maybe not quite your thing, you’ll notice this immediately. These top notes are light and fresh, so they don’t stick around too long on your skin. They gracefully give way to the next set of notes.
Middle or Heart Notes
Think of middle notes as the heart of a fragrance. They’re like the sturdy base that lasts for about 20-60 minutes after you apply the scent. These notes come to life once the initial burst of fragrance—the top notes—settles down. They make up a considerable portion, between 40-80%, of the entire scent. Unlike the top notes, the middle notes are more complex. They’re designed to capture the attention and also serve as a cushion to the deeper, long-lasting base notes.
Visualize comforting scents like lavender and rose, or even earthy ones like clary sage. In this category, you’ll also find other lovely scents like Rose, Fragonia, Geranium, and Fennel.
Base Perfume Notes
Before you ask: Which note in perfume is the strongest?. Or Which Type of Perfume Notes lasts the longest?. Ever wondered why perfumes last on the wearer’s body throughout the day?. Or how they subtly transform their scent from the moment they are first applied?.
Well, the foundation of the perfume notes(base notes) pyramid is responsible for that. The base notes, also known as the bottom, or dry down notes are where we find the heaviest molecules and lowest volatility. Which allows them to evaporate at a slow pace, resulting in a long-lasting impression.
The base notes can last for several minutes to hours, sometimes even after a full day of wearing them, they still linger on clothes. Typically, base notes have a warm, alluring, and woody essence, formulated from aromatic scents derived from the wood and amber families. Among the most prevalent base notes known for their long-lasting presence are sandalwood, cedarwood, vanilla, Buddha wood, amyris, opoponax, muhuhu, oud, tonka bean, leather, powdery accords, and musks.
And, of course, the timeless patchouli. To preserve these fragrances, it’s best to store them in a cool, shaded spot, away from air conditioning or heating systems to prolong their shelf life.
10 Best Perfumes to Buy in 2023
Here are some of the best perfumes with top, mid and base notes to buy in 2023.
Parfums de Marly Cassili Eau de Parfum
- Price: $355
- Notes: Transparent white flowers, tonka beans, mimosa absolute, Bulgarian rose, plumeria, sandalwood.
Arabian Oud Bella Eau de Parfum
- Price: $100
- Notes: Vanilla, pear, raspberry, sandalwood, jasmine, caramel, musk, orange.
Philosophy Amazing Grace Eau de Parfum
- Price: $62
- Notes: Freesia, orange blossom, bergamot, neroli, musk blend, lemon, jasmine.
Penhaligon’s Solaris Eau de Parfum
- Price: $225
- Notes: Ylang-ylang, lemon oil, blackcurrant, tiare flower, cedarwood, neroli, jasmine, vanilla, sandalwood.
Vilhelm Parfumerie Mango Skin Eau de Parfum
- Price: $245
- Notes: Jasmine, blackberries, black pepper, mango, pink sugar, patchouli, vanilla
TOM FORD Costa Azzurra Parfum
- Price: $161
- Notes: Cypress oil, lemon, oakwood extract, amber
Christian Dior Oud Ispahan
- Price: £245
- Notes: Patchouli, labdanum, saffron, rose, agarwood, sandalwood
Brown Girl Jane Dare
- Price: $102
- Notes: Pink peony, Cherry, rose Damascena, black pepper, musk, woods, lychee.
Orange Smoke Eau de Toilette by Dries Van Noten
- Price: $255
- Notes: Mandarin, neroli, orange blossom, jasmine, musk.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian 724 Eau de Parfum
- Price: $535
- Notes: Bergamot oil, white floral accord, jasmine, aldehydes, sandalwood accord, white musk.