One of my favorite past times of blog reading is to read descriptions of fragrances! This is something I’m trying to get better at myself, so I’ve been reading some books as well and trying to learn a little more about the history and components of perfume composition, as it is something I’ve never really considered (novice here). One thing that always confused me was top, middle, and base notes, and after some research it makes a lot more sense!
Top notes are what we smell first in a fragrance, and many times they are in the form of herbs. Ginger and citrus fruits, like limes and tangerines are often used as top notes. If you recall my review of Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Nights perfume, I mentioned the initial spritz to be very strong and not very pleasant: its top notes are bergamot and papyrus.
Middle notes (also called “heart notes) have the job of enhancing top and base notes, giving “body to blends, imparting warmth and fullness”, according to Scents & Sensibilities by Mandy Aftel. These notes are usually flowers, like geraniums, jasmine, and ylang ylang. Fancy Nights has middle notes of jasmine, patchouli, and rose.
Base notes are what lasts the longest on our skin, deriving from barks, roots, grasses, lichens, saps, and resins. This is the scent that will primarily mix with our body chemistry. Sandalwood, oak moss, vanilla, and frankincense are often used for base notes. In Fancy Nights, the base notes are sandalwood, oak moss, amber, and vanilla. Fancy Nights is a warm and hearty scent, so examining this particular fragrance was like putting a puzzle together!
Of course, some of these notes will find their way across the board as they are versatile, like lavender. All of these notes work together with body chemistry as they dry down and leave lasting fragrance on our skin.
After some of my reading, I went to Fragantica and looked up some of the notes to my favorite fragrances, and not surprisingly they have similar base notes, like vanilla and sandalwood.