notas olfativas

What are fragrances made up of?

Fragrances olfactory notes

Any fragrance is composed of ingredients known as olfactory notes. When it blended to create the perfume’s fragrant accord. Like the musical notes of a song. Different tones that blend to generate that special, characteristic and unique smell.

Perfumers are professionals who carefully select the notes of a fragrance to create a pleasant smell that evokes a certain experience. Notes are classified in what we call fragrance pyramid.

Fragrance pyramid is composed of three categories or note scales: top notes, middle notes and base notes. The correct blend of each of these three scales made up a fragrance. Each group of notes has its purpose which we will explain below.

Olfactory notes

Top notes 

The top notes are the most volatile. They are also the softest and therefore the first to fade because they contain small and light molecules that evaporate quickly. But they aren’t of the utmost importance in the fragrance pyramid.

Top notes are considered to play a role in setting the first impression as they are detected after spraying a perfume. What is the first thing you notice in a perfume? Think about it. Top notes are those that are easy to identify, are usually described as fresh, and they must manage to attract.

You will notice them during the first minute, as they are stronger. And after 5 minutes they will start to disappear. Some more common notes include mainly citrus scents (lemon, orange and bergamot), light fruits (grapefruit, berries) and/or soft herbs (sage, lavender).

Middle notes

The middle notes are called “heart” notes because they are considered the heart of a fragrance. They make an appearance once the top notes evaporate. They last longer than the top notes and are considered soft and balanced.

Their function is to retain some of the top notes aroma while introducing new olfactory notes. They make up about 70% of a total scent.

The smell usually begins to appear between 20 minutes and 1 hour, just when the top notes start to fade. And remain evident for the full life of the fragrance, about 3 hours.

Some of the most common ingredients are floral or fruity, sometimes with a touch of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom. Common middle notes of fragrance include geranium, rose, lemongrass, ylang-ylang, lavender, coriander, nutmeg, neroli and jasmine.

fragrance pyramid

Base Notes

The base notes are those final notes that blend with the middle notes to help boost the lighter notes and add more depth to a fragrance. They also help to boost more background and resonance to the middle notes. They are those notes that last the most in your memory.

These notes aim to provide a lasting impression. As they are less volatile and are composed of large and heavy molecules, they evaporate more slowly, staying up to 6 hours in the environment.

The woody notes, such as cedarwood, oakmoss or sandalwood, balsamic and musky stand out. Besides, vanilla, amber and patchouli also stand out.

The olfactory notes play a very important role in fragrances. The challenge for perfumers is to know how to properly blend the different notes to create pleasant and unique fragrances.

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