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Base note, middle note and top note in perfumery

Updated: Mar 11

Fragrances consist of top, middle, and base notes.

The top note is the initial impression of a perfume when you first smell it and decide whether or not you like it. These notes have the lightest molecular weight and evaporate first after applying the scent. Citrus scents, some herbs, and spices are typical top notes. After the top notes evaporate (15-60 minutes), the middle notes begin to emerge.

These middle or heart notes are heavier in molecular weight, usually consisting of flowers, fruits, and accords make up marine scents, and are noticeable for 2-5 hours. The base notes are the foundation of the perfume, consisting of long-lasting compounds with heavy molecular weight upon which the entire fragrance composition is built. These notes can last up to 12 hours but only reveal themselves after the middle notes have evaporated. Examples of base notes are woody notes, resins, gums, and mosses.

Certain compounds can act as both middle and base notes in the same perfume, depending on their individual longevity and the other molecules they are blended with. They can also act as base notes in one fragrance and middle notes in another.

One thing is certain: a true perfume contains all three notes. When you open a bottle, you will first smell bergamot, followed by rose and jasmine after half an hour, and then sandalwood after a few hours. This system can help identify a fake perfume.

Cheap imitations do not follow these rules and only copy the top note of a genuine fragrance. When you smell the bergamot, you may believe the perfume is authentic and purchase it. However, after half an hour, the top note fades away, leaving you without a scent.

Always buy your fragrances from a trustworthy retailer or directly from the brand's website or store to support the artist, not the thief.

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