Perfumes are composed of three notes: notes of the head (top notes), notes of the heart (middle notes), and notes of depth (base notes).
The top notes are the first notes you perceive, the most volatile and evaporate the fastest, hence the name ‘notes of the head’.
The middle note, or heart note, is the essence of the perfume. It’s a stronger scent that emerges as the perfume warms on the skin.
The base note, the strongest and richest fragrance, this surfaces and usually lasts for several hours. Each of the notes creates its own scent, yet blends with the others to create a fragrance.
The different notes of a perfume all blend to create an emotion and create harmony. Perfume notes that are not well balanced are not well accepted…
Here are some things to consider when choosing a good perfume: Choose a scent concentration, narrow down a scent family, research or ask others what kind of perfume they use, compare perfumes.
Floral/Sweet perfumes smell like freshly-cut flowers, the scents used in floral perfumes are rose, lavender, carnation, orange blossom etc. These are popular perfumes for women because of their sweet scent that most enjoy.
Citrus/Fruity perfumes smell like fruits, particularly citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit and lime, but also other fruit like apricot, apple or peach. In general these scents are bright and refreshing.
Oriental/Spicy perfumes smell musky and complex with spices like star anise, cinnamon and vanilla.
Woody/Chypre perfumes smell woody and earthy, these feature scents like agarwood, sandalwood, oakmoss and patchouli.
To help you in deciding which fragrances will work the best with your skin chemistry, scents should always be applied to your pulse points. Pulse points are where the blood vessels are closest to the skin’s surface and therefore give off more warmth. You should never test more than two or three scents at once. Throughout the day, smell the fragrances you are trying and even apply more on the same pulse point but on a different day for comparison. If the fragrance has a scent that you enjoy each time you test it, you may have just found a new perfume for your collection!
Here are 14 families of fragrance notes, divided into the following 4 groups:
(1) Floral Notes (2) Oriental Notes (3) Woody Notes (4) Fresh Notes
1. FLORAL NOTES
Floral: Florals remain the most popular fragrance family. Their repertoire is huge, on the theme of a single floral note to mighty heady mixed bouquets with exciting floral notes. Revitalising the traditional floral theme where the scent blooms.
Soft Floral: The marriage of sparkling aldehydes and delicate flowers creates a family of often powdery, abstract florals. Aldehydes, in such minute amounts have a metallic waxy aroma. Add them to flowers, however, and their subtle notes make blossoms sing. Their notes are subtle with the powdery accents of iris and vanilla to make a fragrance that’s soft.
2. ORIENTAL NOTES
Oriental: Orientals are the exotic queens of perfumery. Sensual, typically significant, blends of oriental resins, opulent flowers, sweet vanilla and musks are introduced by refreshing citrus, green or fruity top notes. Orientals gained some ground within the late Nineteen Nineties, but the appeal of the full-bodied Orientals endures.
Floral Oriental: Soft, spicy orange flower notes meld with aldehydes and sweet spices to make the center of a Floral Oriental fragrance. Lively, fruity interpretations dominated the Floral Oriental class, but recent fragrances have developed a more subtle personality.
Soft Oriental: Incense adds sensual overtones to flowers, spices and amber to create a softer style of Oriental. The base notes of a contemporary Soft Oriental are not as sweet as a real Oriental and also the result of flowers and spices are distinctively softer.
3. WOODY NOTES
Woods: Lately, perfumers have rediscovered woody notes in an exceedingly massive manner, therefore it is smart to differentiate them from the Chypre or Mossy Woods fragrances. Classic woody scents are dominated by harmonies of cedar, patchouli, pine, sandalwood and vetiver with a new palette of exotic wood notes.
Mossy Woods: Perfumers refer to these as forest notes of oakmoss, amber and citrus Chypre fragrances. The name Chypre is the French name for the island of Cyprus. From Cyprus, too, comes the oakmoss that’s at the center of all Chypre fragrances.
Dry Woods: A mossy-woody fragrance takes on a drier character with the addition of cedar, tobacco and burnt wood notes. The Dry Woods family is commonly referred to as animalic, with the dry, smoky scent. Fresh citrus notes play a vital role in most Dry Woods fragrances, lightening the deep, almost animalic heart notes.
Woody Oriental: Oriental notes and also the potent scents of patchouli and wood created a number of the foremost original perfumes of the Nineteen Nineties. This family emphasises the woody character of Floral Orientals, the key distinction is that their flowers and spices play second string to the dominant wood and/or patchouli notes. The Oriental influence is noticeable too and balances the deep wood notes.
4. FRESH NOTES
Fruity: Peaches and pears, apples and plums. A twist of tropical fruits with essences of strawberry, raspberry and berries of all hues. Add a splash of flowers to make a family of fruity cocktails that smell delicious.
Green: Green fragrances capture the sharp scent of fresh grass and violet leaves. Nowadays, a palette of softer, lighter green notes has given this fragrance family fresh appeal.
Water: Reminicent of the scent of soft sea breezes, the marine notes were created in 1990, these water notes captured the ozonic aroma. Today, the water notes are typically used to enhance florals, orientals and woody fragrances.
Citrus: Citrus fragrances with the zest of lemons, lime, mandarins, bergamot, oranges and grapefruit come the citrus oils that lend these fragrances their distinctive, tangy aroma. Floral, spicy and woody notes reworked the sunshine with a new generation of musk and tea accents adding a motivating dimension to the oldest fragrance family.
Aromatic Fougère: This is the universal fragrance family, with attractive cool-warm notes of citrus and lavender, sweet spices and oriental woods. Fresh, Floral, Oriental and Woody fragrances developed since the mid-1960s have come from this family; their zesty, masculine character makes men feel comfortable. Most women, too find the mix of notes appealing.