Fragrances are a popular way to express yourself, especially among American women, 92% of whom wear some form of perfume. Of course, with hundreds of scents to choose from, finding the right one for you may seem overwhelming. Learning about perfume structure and formulas can help you narrow down your options.
What Are Scent Notes?
Most fragrances have more than one scent note. For example, Invictus, an eau de parfum by Paco Rabanne, has seven notes. Each has an identifiable smell that combines into a unique fragrance.
Many traditionally popular notes are the result of essential or fragrance oils, which manufacturers extract from organic sources, such as botanicals. However, some notes, such as the “clean” smell of ozone, are entirely synthetic. Others, such as animalistic musk, were originally derived from natural sources but are now made in labs to avoid harming wildlife.
When you research perfumes, you’ll find scent notes in the description. For example, Madison Square Park by Bond No 9 lists the following:
- Grape hyacinth
- Red hunter tulips
- Red leaf rose
- Prairie dropseed grass
Knowing what each of these smells like and how they interact with your body chemistry is essential to determining whether this scent is right for you.
Perusing online fragrance collections, you may find scent notes broken into groups. Invictus Victory by Paco Rabanne, for instance, describes an “outset” of fragrance followed by a “surge.” These distinctive groups are commonly known as layers.
Fragrance oils evaporate at different rates, which means various scent notes gain the spotlight over time. Notes that fade first are called top notes, those that evaporate second are called middle or “heart” notes and lingering scents are called base notes. The longevity of a note depends on which family it falls into.
There are four major fragrance families:
All scent notes fall into one of the above. For example, Black XS by Paco Rabanne has floral notes (black violet, hellebore, rose, cranberry), amber notes (pink peppercorn, cacao flower, vanilla, tamarind), a woody note (massoia wood) and a fresh note (patchouli). Notice that some flowers don’t fall under the “floral” category; even though the source is floral, the actual scent is more spicy, woody or green.
Most florals and fresh notes fade quickly, making them top notes. Middle notes tend to fall into the amber family, although certain florals qualify. Base notes are almost always woody, though certain fresh notes may also fall into this category.
Each of the four main families has three subcategories. Once you know which fragrances you like, you can use these subcategories to help you find similar perfumes.
Finding the Right Perfume
While some people have a favorite brand, most producers offer a wide range of selections. Just because you love one Paco Rabanne eau de toilette doesn’t mean you’ll adore them all. The only way to know if a scent works for you is to try it.
Fortunately, you can find top brands, such as Paco Rabanne, at LaBelle Perfumes. With these affordable prices, you can experiment to your heart’s content. Take a look at La Belle Perfume’s online catalog to start your search.