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The Olfactory Pyramid

The olfactory pyramid is a technique used to create a well-balanced perfume formula. It involves dividing the perfume into three notes based on the ingredients' evaporation rate. These are top, middle (heart,) and base notes, ranging from the lightest to the most persistent. Incorporating scents from each note category is essential when creating a fragrance to produce a more sophisticated and well-crafted scent. This structure helps the perfume to evolve once it is applied and can transform a simple fragrance into a complex and thoughtful one. Let's take a closer look at the differences between these aroma notes.



At the peak of the fragrance pyramid lie the highest notes, also known as top notes or headnotes. These aromas can either attract or repel you. Top notes are usually composed of fresh and sharp oils that have a lighter molecular structure, such as citrus oils like Lemon, Grapefruit, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Spruce, Pine, Basil, Fir Balsam, and Blood Orange. These high notes last for a short time, usually 5-15 minutes, meaning their fragrance fades away quickly from the skin. The top notes dissipate as time passes, and the middle notes emerge more prominently.


Middle or heart notes are fragrances lasting around 20-60 minutes. These notes become noticeable as the top note begins to fade. They are central to a perfume's scent and determine the dominant aroma. Middle notes are typically well-rounded and pleasant, and their fragrance lingers longer than top notes before the base notes come in. They are often composed of oils with a floral or herbal scent, with Linalool being one of the most recognizable middle note compounds. Some examples of middle notes include Lavender, Clary Sage, Sweet Marjoram, Neroli, Rose, Geranium, Fennel, and Cardamom.


Base notes in perfumes are known to last longer than other notes. These notes are made of heavier molecules and are less volatile than other essential oils. Base notes might not be immediately noticeable, like top and middle notes, but they provide the perfume with its underlying aroma that lasts throughout the wear of the perfume. Typically, base notes are rich and deep, with musk and woody aromas. Some examples of base notes include Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Buddha Wood, Amyris, Oud, and Tonka Bean.




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