When reading fragrance reviews of any type: perfume, eau de toilette and even home fragrance you may have noticed myself and others referring to top, middle and base notes? It can be confusing choosing a new scent let along getting to grips with note terminology, I mean surely if it smells great that is enough? True but for describing fragrances, be it in person or in a review, note composure sure come in handy - let me explain...
Top Notes (may also be referred to as opening notes or head notes)
As the name may suggest this is what you immediately detect from any fragrance. I find the best way to think of them is as a fragrance first impression - when you first mist on a bottle of fragrance, what you immediately smell is the top notes, it really is as simple as that. As it is the first thing you experience it is important that they reel the consumer - it is often what makes or breaks a scent. Typically speaking top notes are the lightest notes within any fragrance composition and as such are the first to fade.
Once the top notes have faded next in line to make an appearance is the middle notes, or more commonly know as the heart notes. Such notes tend to be a little more robust than the lighter aforementioned top notes and as such longer wearing. In my opinion most fragrance wear comes from the middle notes so before purchasing any scent, mist it on, leave for around 30 minutes and then try again. If you don't like the heart notes of a fragrance there is frankly no point in purchasing it as you will be detecting those very notes pretty much all day.
Base NotesLastly we have the base notes which are more often than not composed of musk or cedarwood, sandalwood which are chosen for the longevity. They are the last to make an appearance in any fragrance and only become detectable once the above top and heart notes have evaporated. The main purpose of such rich notes is to ensure the fragrance wears well and for a prolonged period.
It really is as simple as that!
The way I got to grips with fragrance pyramids was more hands on; my advice is to look up the top, heart and base notes for your favourite fragrance - mist it on to yourself or a piece of card and over the space of a few hours see if you can pick up on the individual notes. I hope this helps.
I have also explained the difference between cologne, eau de toilette and more here.
Or find out if bottled fragrance can expire here.