Scent notes

Scent notes

Notes in perfumery are used to describe the time taken to sense a scent after the application of a fragranced product. Essential oils and absolutes evaporate at different rates to one another. Their volatility is what is used to categorise them into the 3 different note categories: top (or head) note, middle (or heart) note, or base note.


Top notes are sensed immediately after application. Their aromatic molecules are small, light and evaporate quickly. They are often strong and very discernible scents, even in an aromatic blend. Some examples of top notes include Lemon oil, Peppermint oil and Eucalyptus oil.


Middle notes or heart notes are scents that emerge just before a top note dissipates. It forms the main body of the fragrance. It has a less sharp, more mellow scent than top notes. Examples of middle notes include Lavender oil, Clary sage oil and Rosemary oil.


The base note is the lingering scent of the fragrance. It appears around the time the middle notes dissipate and bring depth to a fragrance. Another term commonly used in conjunction with base notes is "fixatives". This term is used to describe the compounds in a note that maintain and boost the strength of middle or top notes. Examples of base notes include Vanilla absolute, Frankincense oil and Australian Sandalwood oil.