Understanding Fragrance Notes: Top, Middle and Base

Most of us know what types of fragrances we like. Maybe you’re drawn more often to a light floral, which brings to mind dew-soaked petals, or maybe you find those scents too sweet and prefer warm musk, like vanilla. But did you know there’s a whole science behind creating a robust, well-balanced fragrance? At 1502 Candle Co., we turn time and time again to this art to create our incredible-smelling candles and other products. Learning more about building fragrances can help you hone in on your favorites and even make the process of gift-giving easier to customize!

Building Smells: The Basics

In its simplest terms, a pleasing perfume or other type of created fragrance has three “notes”: base, middle (or heart), and top (or head). Too much base can mean the scent feels heavy and overwhelming, whereas too much of a top note can tickle the nose.

While the art of combining top, middle and base notes is often associated with perfume, we use it to thoughtfully inform every hand-crafted product we make at 1502 Candle Co.

Some common examples of top notes include bergamot, lemon, and sage. Middle might include lavender, pine, or black pepper. And popular base notes include amber, sandalwood, vanilla, and patchouli.

Consider one of our popular mists and how we weave various notes together. Forest Fern & Gardenia Refresh Fragrance Mist entices with floral-forward top notes of gardenia, moss and cassis, followed by middle notes of green fig, jasmine and a hint of orchid, rounded out with base notes of coconut, amber and wood.

Top Notes: Setting the Stage

Your first impression of a scent is largely shaped by the top notes. These molecules are small and tend to evaporate quickly. Lighter, herbal and citrus scents are often used for top notes and are meant to intrigue and attract, then transition smoothly into the headier middle notes.

Middle Notes: The Foundation

Middle notes are often referred to as heart notes because they essentially form the foundation of the fragrance. These scents are revealed once the top notes recede and often make up between 40-80% of the entire aroma. More complex than top notes, these scents are meant to hold your attention and also act as a buffer for more robust base notes.

Base Notes: A Lingering Impression

In contrast to top notes, which are typically energizing and invigorating, base notes are often described as calming. These scents are made up of large, heavy molecules providing complexity, depth and a lasting impression.

It is important to remember that individual scents can smell very differently depending on how they are mixed. We use essential and fragrance oil blends in order to provide a greater range of aromas while also creating cost-effective products.

Learn More about Our Fragrances

While the craft of combining top, middle and base notes is often associated with perfume, at 1502 Candle Co., we use it to thoughtfully inform every product we make. Our line of sustainably created items is proven to please, but we’re also able to create custom scents for those customers who know just what they like. Reach out to us online to learn more about how we can refresh your space with beautifully balanced fragrances.

November 07, 2018 — Emily Tongg

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