Have you ever noticed when you are in a room where someone slices or peels an orange, you can smell it almost immediately? There's a reason why the citrus scent travels through the air so quickly, and that reason also relates to creating fragrances that we love.
When an orange is sliced, the orange molecules are released into the air, and they diffuse, or spread out, throughout the space. The size of the molecules affects how quickly they spread. Since citrus molecules are relatively small compared to other scents, they can travel quickly through the room.
Just as a musician creates beautiful and complex chords with notes of varying wavelengths, fragrance designers create alluring and rich fragrance combinations with scents composed of various sized molecules. This creates sophisticated and lasting scents that we enjoy.
In the fragrance world, individual scents are called notes, and they are broadly categorized as top notes, middle notes and base notes.
The top notes, also called head notes, are the first scents we detect in a fragrance. These include the uplifting citrus notes and the fresh herbal aromatics. Because they are the smallest molecules, they are also the first to begin to evaporate or dissipate.
Next we have the middle notes, or the heart notes. This is the heart of the fragrance, and it often includes soft floral notes, sweet fruity notes, fresh green notes, and warm spicy notes. The middle notes impart body and fullness to the ensemble.
Finally we have the base notes. These are the earthy, woody and musky scents. Since these molecules are the largest, they have the most staying power, and they provide the deep richness that is foundational to the fragrance combination.
This fragrance pyramid is one tool we use to describe fragrances. For example, here's our description of our Pineapple Papaya fragrance.
"Sweet, juicy and tropical! A tantalizing blend of citrus top notes, and sweet fruits and sugared base notes. At first sniff, mandarin, pineapple and coconut palms open this bright fragrance. Mid notes of papaya guava and pomegranate are rounded out with a base of sugarcane, sandalwood and cypress. This fragrance will be a favorite for any fruit lover."
See how the top, middle and base notes are described and balanced for an exotic and tropical fragrance combination?
Also, the fragrance pyramid explains why fragrances will sometimes change. When a fragrance is first applied, the top notes are stronger. As the smallest molecules evaporate over time, the balance changes, allowing the mid and base notes to come through more.
So what are some of your favorite fragrance notes?
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