The scent you perceive immediately after applying a perfume is different from the scent you perceive after wearing a perfume, once the scent has unfolded. There are gradual changes in aroma as ingredients in it fade away. The structure of fragrance follows a basic principle, evolving through three phases – the top, middle, and base notes - with each botanical offering a different intensity over time.
The top notes are the initial, sharp, penetrating and fleeting compounds of the fragrance that hit the nose first. They introduce the perfume and form the first impression, then evaporate quickly. The top notes last around 15 minutes – 2 hours. Examples of these include citrus notes, herbaceous notes, spicy notes, and a few woody notes, floral notes and ozonic notes. They are considered modifiers and are often used in smaller concentrations to lift a fragrance.
The middle notes, also referred to as the heart notes, are full-bodied and showcase the theme or focal point of the fragrance. These develop after the top note clears – around 15-30 minutes and can last 3-5 hours after being sprayed. Heart notes include most florals.
The base notes are the foundation upon which the perfume is built – they are dense, heavy, deep and tenacious, and are the last to develop. They become more noticeable once the fragrance has been on the skin for a while and can last 5-10 hours. These scent molecules will develop a different nuance in every persona, making it the most individual part of a fragrance. The base notes stabilize the entire scent composition; they include earthy, woody, musky and mossy scents.