While making an Eau de Parfum, a perfumer uses various fragrance ingredients to build up the perfume. You have probably noticed that a perfume doesn’t smell the exact same all day. That’s because a perfume is made up of several layers: the top notes, heart notes and base notes. The difference between these fragrance notes? We are happy to explain.

Why does perfume consist of layers?

A perfumer elaborates the different fragrance ingredients in layers in order to obtain the desired effect in terms of odor distribution and thus create a unique composition. From the moment you spray perfume, a fragrance develops in different phases. Each stage consists of a group of perfume notes based on the rate at which the fragrance evaporates.

The different perfume notes

The different phases can be divided into top notes, heart notes and base notes.

Top notes: the first impression

After you spray a perfume, the perfume opens with the top notes. These are the ingredients that are dominant in the first minutes after application. But these are also the most volatile molecules in the perfume. So they evaporate the fastest.

The top notes linger very temporarily, from a few minutes to about two hours. Typical top notes are citrus scents and aromatic or green ingredients. The alcohol is also strongly present at the first moment.

Because the top notes of a perfume evaporate much faster, you can’t actually judge a perfume in the first minutes. Perfume takes a few minutes to mix with your personal fragrance. We therefore always advise to wait at least five minutes after applying a perfume. This is how you really get to the heart of a perfume. It is possible that the top notes are not your favourite, but that the heart of the perfume is exactly what suits you.

Heart notes: the character of the perfume

When you start to smell other elements, a perfume enters the second phase. This phase is the heart note. The heart notes consist of the ingredients that come to the foreground after a few minutes. This happens when the top notes are softening. They extend the freshness of the top notes and give warmth to the base notes. The heart notes can linger between two to eight hours.

The heart is perhaps the most important part of the perfume. The heart determines the character of the perfume. It is the scent that you continue to smell throughout the day and that slowly mixes with the base notes. Usually the heart notes consist of floral scents, such as jasmine, rose and ylang-ylang.

Base notes: connector of all ingredients

The heart notes fixate with the base notes. The base notes combine all ingredients in a perfume. They provide warmth and depth in a perfume and remain last. You can smell it for hours and sometimes even days. They provide the memory of the fragrance, but also the moment when you have worn this perfume. For example, when you have put on your favourite perfume and then put on a scarf. If you put this scarf back on the next day, you can still smell the fragrance. Typical base notes are woods, vanilla, resins, amber or musk.

In the pyramid below, we summarize the difference between the top, heart and base notes.

difference perfume notes shown in a pyramid

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A perfume that suits you

To find out if you like a certain perfume, it is best to wear it for a day. You can then experience the different phases of the perfume. We recommend applying the perfume to your clothes. It contains your personal fragrance and heat and then the perfume can mix well with it, without affecting the skin. Wondering which perfume suits you? Discover our extensive collection. Looking for a present for Mother’s Day? We are happy to share our gift ideas.