What Makes up a Fragrance?

Get ready to take some notes.




Fragrances can help you tell a deeply personal story about yourself. Scents have an intense connection with our emotions and are the perfect extension of what you want to share with the world or how you're feeling at any given moment. But before you figure out which scents feel fun and flirty and which exude unapologetic confidence, have you ever wondered—what's in a fragrance?

All fragrances feature a combination of ingredients but are mainly a blend of essential oils and alcohol to determine a scent’s worth and strength. Each is made up of distinct top notes, middle notes, and base notes to help the wearer create a unique and noteworthy experience.

The top notes, also known as head notes, are what you'll smell initially after fragrance application—it's your first impression. These notes tend to be volatile and may linger anywhere from five to 15 minutes.

As the top notes begin to evaporate, the middle notes, also known as heart notes, are what you'll smell next. You'll detect these notes anywhere from 15-45 minutes after application. These notes represent the heart or character of the fragrance.

Once the top notes evaporate completely, your nose will be able to detect the base notes. These appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours after the initial fragrance application. Base notes give body and longevity to a fragrance.

Depending on the time of year, your body temperature, and the climate, the time it takes for a fragrance to develop and evaporate can be greatly affected. In the summer months, heat and humidity can cause your fragrance to fade more quickly, thereby requiring more frequent fragrance touch-ups. Top notes, middle notes, and base notes can also react differently based on your body’s chemistry. Ever pick up a very popular fragrance only to discover it’s not as you remembered it when you wear it?

So now that you've got the rundown on what makes up your favorite fragrance, think about the top, middle, and base notes of the next fragrance you encounter. What notes are you attracted to? Do the fragrances you like have something in common?

Tell us, what else would you like to learn about fragrance? Share your fragrance Qs below in the comments.