The Fragrance Pyramid
Imagine a musical composition full of music tones & accords. Perfume is kind of a similar concept with dozens of ingredients harmonised in a beautiful mix. They are structured in three different layers of notes (Top, Middle & Base) that will appear progressively through the diffusion of the perfume. The combination of notes will create the different tones throughout the life of the perfume on your skin.
The top notes are also sometimes referred to as the opening notes or head notes. The top notes of a fragrance are generally the lightest of all the notes. They are recognized immediately upon application of the perfume. The top notes are also the first to fade given their light molecular structure, but this does not mean they aren't of utmost importance.
The top notes of a fragrance represent the first impression. It is hugely important that the top notes not only succeed at luring you in, but also smoothly transition into the heart of the fragrance. Common fragrance top notes include citrus (lemon, orange zest, bergamot), light fruits (grapefruit, berries) and herbs (clary sage, lavender).
The middle notes or the heart notes, make an appearance once the top notes evaporate. The middle notes are considered the heart of the fragrance. They last longer than the top notes and have a strong influence on the base notes to come. A perfume's heart is generally pleasant and well-rounded. It is often a smooth combination of floral or fruit tones; sometimes infused with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom.
Common fragrance middle notes include geranium, rose, lemongrass, ylang ylang, lavender, coriander, nutmeg, neroli and jasmine.
Base notes are the final fragrance notes that appear once the top notes are completely evaporated. The base notes mingle with the heart notes to create the full body of the fragrance, but are typically associated with the dry-down period. The job of the base notes is to provide the lasting impression. These often rich notes linger on the skin for hours after the top notes have dissipated.
Common fragrance base notes include cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, patchouli, oakmoss and musk.