Learn About the 4 Fragrance Types & Find Your Perfect Scent
November 11, 20203 min read
Imagine walking up to a candle booth or perfume counter, picking up a scent, taking a deep inhale and smelling the fragrance: the first notes that hit your olfactory bulb are the top notes or the head of the fragrance. Take another sniff: the top notes fade away to reveal the middle notes or the heart of the fragrance. One more sniff: the middle notes make way for the bottom notes or the base.
Fragrances are a harmony of top, middle and bottom notes; and, each note can contain multiple scents or ingredients. Each unique scent or ingredient naturally falls into one of these notes:
TOP (aka. HEAD) The top or head notes are what you smell immediately. Ingredients that give off these notes consist of small molecules that evaporate quickly.
MIDDLE (aka. HEART) As top notes begin dissipating, you begin to smell the middle or heart notes. They are usually more mellow and last longer than the top notes.
BOTTOM (aka. BASE) The bottom or base notes bring depth and solidity to a fragrance. Ingredients that are used for base notes have a rich and strong scent and molecules that evaporate very slowly, so their odor lasts the longest.
Around 1900, traditional fragrance categories emerged; but since 1945, advances in technology and the natural evolution of styles and tastes led to the development of new categories. And in 1983 Michael Edward, British fragrance expert, invented the Fragrance Wheel to simply the classification of fragrances and show their relationship. Just like colors, fragrance types are also displayed on a wheel; and similarly, complimentary notes appear across from each other. Each unique scent or ingredient can be classified as either Fresh or Warm, then grouped into 1 of 4 Fragrance Families: Fresh, Floral, Oriental/Exotic or Woody. Within each Fragrance Family, there are Subfamilies; and, a few Subfamilies crossover two families.
Here’s the Fragrance Wheel with our scents grouped by type:
Here are some common fragrance notes within each subfamily with links to our fragrances including each note:
ORIENTAL/EXOTIC (Side Note: There is understandably recent controversy around using the term “Oriental.” Because traditional perfumers have not renamed it yet, we're only using it for consistency. We mean no disrespect.)
Soft Oriental: soft florals with incense and warm spices
More recently, modern perfumers have developed new fragrance notes that focus on edible (gourmand) or more dessert-like scents such as warm sugar, caramel, graham cracker crust, chocolate, vanilla, birthday cake or candy. These notes serve as top and middle notes.
FIND YOUR FRAGRANCE Browse by fragrance family to find a scent that’s perfect for you! Click below to shop by fragrance type: