Monday, July 27, 2009

Beauty Buzz Words: Fragrance Notes

In preparation for an upcoming post on my favorite fragrances, I though it might be helpful to do a quick primer on some of the terms that are often thrown about in the fragrance industry. There are a ton, so for today we'll start with a few that are used in every fragrance description under the sun: Notes.

Just like music notes, the "notes" of a fragrance are the individual scents that combine to make the final fragrance. They appear in different intensities and last for different amounts of time, which is why a fragrance will smell different when you first apply it then it will at the end of the day. The "notes" of a fragrance are separated into 3 main categories; Top Notes, Middle Notes, and Base Notes.

Top notes are the first thing you smell when you spritz on a scent. The top notes of a fragrance are the most fleeting, they begin to fade away immediately and are completely dissolved within the first hour or so. Top notes are usually the fruity, fresh or bright floral counterparts to a fragrance.

Middle notes, also called Heart notes, are the longer wearing "body" of a fragrance. They are typically richer floral, herbal or spicy scents that are noticeable right away, though they do intensify as the top notes fade. The heart notes of a fragrance can last several hours and, in combination with the base notes, will give the most honest impression of a fragrance.

Base notes are what a fragrance is "built" upon. Though occasionally they are noticible when you first apply the scent, typically they do not emerge for several hours. Since these notes are the longest wearing (and the ones most likely to linger on your scarf for days afterward) it is important to decide whether you like a fragrance's base notes before you purchase it. Woody accords like Sandalwood, Patchouli and Vetiver (which is actually a grass) are common base notes in both men's and women's fragrances.

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