20th September 2021

Making Sense of Scents

If you’re new to the world of fragrance, you might not be familiar with certain phrases – but don’t worry, at Fragrance Oils, we won’t baffle you with technical terms. We pride ourselves on our collaborative approach and our dedicated team of Scentmakers are always on hand to answer any questions.

Fragrances can be difficult to describe – but the structure is a good place to start. So, how is a fragrance built? There are three key layers – we call this the fragrance triangle, and it’s made of top, middle and base notes.

Here we take a closer look at the role of each layer as we try to make sense of scents….

Here comes the science bit

The top of the triangle is what consumers smell first – it’s what creates that initial wow factor! Here you’ll find things like sparkling citrus fruits, juicy berries and even fresh, aromatic herbs. You may hear top notes described as volatile – this is because they evaporate quickly and tend to last for only five to 15 minutes.

It’s the top notes that will lure your consumers in, but once they start to fade, it’s the middle or heart that takes centre stage. This layer is more complex; it gives the fragrance its dominant character and is typically made up of floral, fruity and/or spicy facets. The heart can last between two to four hours, so these notes need to be alluring and captivating.

Last but not least is the base, or fond, which works with the heart to add depth and longevity. This is what you’ll smell on “dry down” once all the other notes have evaporated. To create the base, the perfumer will use rich, sumptuous, long lasting notes such as sandalwood, amber and musk as they can linger for hours and will leave a lasting impression.

I like to think of the top notes as a window into the fragrance which then draws you in to it’s heart, the foundation where the theme of the fragrance lies and the story is created. Once the heart notes have evaporated you see the base that gives depth and tenacity that can last hours, days and sometimes weeks.
Claire Paulson
Scentmaker in Perfumery

We are the Scentmakers

Each fragrance is unique and can feature anything from between 20 to 100 different ingredients. It’s our role as Scentmakers to find the right balance of top, middle and base notes from 900 other ingredients and create evocative scents that support the story you want to tell. At Fragrance Oils, our knowledge and experience is second to none, so whatever your vision, you can rely on us to develop fragrances that are perfectly suited to your brand and your target consumers.