SCENTOLOGY
The Art of Good Scents
  • Aien Mokhtar

A Symphony of Scents

Perfume is like a symphony. Here are the reasons why.


Perfume is like a symphony. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. And just like music, fragrances are made up of different notes.


Fragrance notes are essentially the different scent layers that make up the final fragrance. These scents are split into three distinct elements: top notes, heart notes and base notes.


Together, the top, heart and base notes work together to create a perfect perfume composition.



Top Notes

Top notes represent the first impression. They may not be the longest-lasting element of a fragrance but they’re the first thing you’ll smell when trying a new fragrance. Top notes represent the initial scents that lure you in, causing you to make your first impression of the fragrance.


Typical top notes include citrus elements (bergamot, lemon, orange zest), light fruits (apple, starfruit) and fresh herbs (basil, sage, peppermint).


Heart Notes

The heart notes start to make an appearance just before the top notes fade away and will strongly influence the base notes to come. As their name suggests, heart notes lie at the heart of the fragrance. Otherwise known as middle notes, this scent layer is the foundation of any fragrance and is known to make up approximately 40-80% of the final fragrance.



Heart notes are generally florals such as rose, jasmine, neroli, ylang-ylang and spices such as lemongrass, coriander and nutmeg.



Base notes

Where the top notes make the initial impression, the base notes are associated with the dry-down period of the fragrance and so, base notes will create the final, lasting impression.

Base notes are often rich and smooth, as well as being the longest lasting of the three notes. Common base notes include cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and musk.




Resins are also categorised as base notes. They are very old materials for perfumes and they were used since the ancient times. Labdanum, frankincense, myrrh, Balsam of Peru, and gum benzoin are sued in perfumery in their natural forms while the pine and fir resins are used in synthetic perfumes.


Of all the ingredients used in perfumery that are sourced from animals, one of the most famous is musk. Long time ago it was obtained from a gland of the Himalayan male Musk deer but it is today synthesized which allows for it to be produced in much larger quantities and it does not demands killing of the animals.




Ambergris is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales and secreted out. It has a sweet, earthy scent that was used for perfumes for years but it is now mainly synthetic. It is also the only animal source of the perfume material that doesn't need for animal to be killed to be


Civet Musk comes from odorous sacs of the civets. Its use is in decline since we started making synthetic musk.


Castoreum is the similar thing but obtained from mature North American Beaver and the European Beaver. These materials, animals use to mark their territory. In perfumery they are used for base notes and as a leather “new-car smell”.


And last but not least, Hyraceum; the petrified and excrement of rock badger that lives in Africa and the Middle East is also a common fixative used in perfumery. Its scent is a combination of musk, castoreum, civet, tobacco and agarwood.