Fragrance notes refer to the three main groups of scents which can be perceived at different periods of time after a perfume has been applied. The three groups are the top notes, the middle notes, and the base notes. Together, they create the perfume’s fragrant accord.

Top Notes

The top notes are also known as opening notes or head notes. When you spritz a perfume, the very first scent you smell is composed of the perfume’s top notes. In other words, the top notes are responsible for your first impression of a particular perfume. Top notes are generally fresh and light. Due to their smaller and lighter molecules, top notes are quickest to evaporate.

Middle Notes

The middle notes, often referred to as the heart of the perfume, become noticeable as the top notes fade away. The middle notes stay longer on your skin than the top notes, sometimes up to 2-3 hours. That is why it is important that you enjoy the middle notes of the perfume you are considering. The middle notes are generally floral, fruity and/or spicy. They serve to make the fragrance more “rounded” and act as a buffer for the base notes, which may smell off-putting on their own. 

Base Notes

With the top notes completely dissipated, the middle notes stay to mingle with the base notes. Together, they give the perfume its main character. Heavy scents like musk, cedar wood, sandalwood and amber are commonly used in base notes, selected more for their long-lastingness than pleasantness. As a result, base notes linger the longest on your skin (some for more than 24 hours)!