An olfactory pyramid of a fragrance is a term commonly used to describe the different components of a fragrance, commonly used not only in perfumes, but also in fragranced soap and skincare products. These components can contribute to the overall blueprint and profile of a fragrance and evolve over time as the fragrance is worn.
Each olfactory pyramid is structured with three levels: top notes, middle notes (also known as heart notes) and base notes.
Olfactory Pyramid Components for a Fragrance
Top notes are the initial scents you perceive when you first apply a fragranced product. They are the first impression of the fragrance and are often light and fresh. These notes are highly volatile and evaporate relatively quickly after about a quarter to an hour.
The most common top notes include citrus notes (like orange, lemon or bergamot), fruity notes (like mango, peach or grapes) and aromatic herbs (like lavender or green tea). These are usually vibrant, zesty and invigorating and they set the tone for the olfactory experience.
Middle Notes (Heart Notes)
Heart notes emerge after the top notes have dissipated. They are the core of the fragrance and they add character and style. These notes become more prominent as the scent evolves and last longer than the top notes, usually several hours.
The most common heart notes include floral essences (like rose, jasmine or lily of the valley) or spices (like cinnamon or ginger). These contribute to the overall character and theme of the fragrance and provide body and complexity.
Base notes are revealed at the final stages of the olfactory experience and become noticeable as the heart notes fade away. They are the very essence of the fragrance and are often intense, rich and heavier. These notes can last for hours, sometimes even throughout the entire day.
The most common base notes include woody notes (like sandalwood, cedar or musk) and exotic notes (like vanilla or patchouli). These are the foundation of the fragrance and usually add stability, depth and warmth.
Generally, fresh and light aromas such as citrus fragrances or fresh fragrances have stronger top notes, while intense and rich aromas such as woody fragrances or spicy fragrances have stronger base notes. The interaction and progression of these different note layers create the overall olfactory experience of a fragrance.
- To learn more about fragrance families, read our blog - The secret to scents: How to find your ideal soap fragrance
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