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Like a score, each fragrance is structured around notes, divided into three distinct categories. Together they form an olfactory (smell-based sensation) pyramid, which can outline the evolution of the fragrance over time.
This evolution depends on the volatility of the ingredients that make up the concentrated perfume. Their volatility depends on their molecular weight, with lighter molecules that quickly evaporate, while heavier molecules tend to remain more on our skin and clothing.
1. HEAD NOTES
At the top of the pyramid are the head notes (aka top notes). These have the most volatile molecules, so they evaporate first. These notes are often fresh and fleeting, like citrus fruits (lemon, bergamot, orange, etc).
Head notes are the first olfactory impression you get from a perfume. These light, ephemeral fragrances won't last more than 2 hours.
Discover our eaux de parfums composed of top notes:
- Primaire 1001 - Yuzu Mandarine
2. THE HEART NOTES
The second stage of the pyramid is the heart notes (aka middle notes). These tend to be floral and aromatic scents, as well as certain fruits.
A perfume's scent is most apparent for 15 to 30 minutes and then slowly diffuses, lasting for a few hours.
Discover our eaux de parfum composed of heart notes :
3. BASE NOTES
Base notes are the last scents to be revealed. They are woody, musky, amber or vanilla notes. More persistent, their fragrance lasts the longest on your skin. This is explained by the fact that some of them historically correspond to molecules from the animal kingdom, allowing them to mark their territory for a long time, like the musk extracted from civet cats, replaced by synthetic scents today.
In a perfume, these notes correspond to the olfactory imprint that's left on a scarf for example, with the scent still lingering even days later. As a result, they induce the idea of attachment and loyalty.
Discover our eau de parfums composed of base notes:
- Primaire 3001 - Cèdre Vétiver
To sum it up, the olfactory structure of a perfume depends on these three notes, which must be balanced in order to have a harmonious fragrance. This balance will determine how long the fragrance lasts. For example, a perfume composed essentially of top notes will, by definition, diffuse a fleeting and short-lasting scent. For a long-lasting scent, on the other hand, you should look for a fragrance that's infused with strong base notes.