Introducing our insiders guide on picking the right scent for you. Read on to learn how you can find the perfect scent from you… it’s all about understanding the notes and taking note.

Fragrance can be the perfect accessory to your wardrobe, adding a sensorial memory to your day. To pick a signature fragrance that suits your style and personality, it’s wise to get savvy on fragrance notes: how they work, how long they last, and their purpose in a perfume profile. Just as music notes create a song, fragrance notes create the complexity and layering which culminate in the distinct uniqueness of your favourite fragrance.

Your favourite perfume will reveal itself in stages, the way it changes through time creates an olfactory journey. Fragrance is cleverly curated to combine and layer ingredients that change as the scent molecules evaporate. As some scents fade shortly after the initial spray, others appear, to create a long-lasting- full bodied perfume that is intricate and complex. 

Here, The Fragrance Shop’s CEO, Sanjay Vadera explains everything you need to know about fragrance notes, to ensure your next scent spree leads to finding your signature.

“A perfumer will carefully select ingredients or notes to create the perfume accord. There are three categories of notes, top notes, heart notes and base notes which build to evoke a fragrance experience. Think of them like a pyramid. Without each of these stages, a fragrance just wouldn’t be appealing to our senses.”

Top Notes

“The top note is the first scent you will experience when you spray the fragrance, and they will last for approximately 5 – 15 minutes. Like the first page of a book, top notes set the scene and create a first impression. They introduce the story of the fragrance and allow the deeper notes to develop. Top notes evaporate quickly and lead to the heart notes. When shopping for fragrance, I would always recommend that you spray the fragrance and then walk away for quarter of an hour. Let the scent settle on your skin before making a decision – its smell will change from that first spritz.”

“Popular top notes include citrus fruits, bergamot and light fruit or floral notes such as rose, grapefruit and lavender. Herb top notes are also common such as basil, anise and clary sage as they are light and refreshing.”

“The classic Chanel No5 Eau De Parfum, £112.50 has top notes of neroli, ylang-ylang, bergamot, amalfi lemon and aldehydes.”

At The Heart Of It

“Heart notes are like the middle of the story; they deepen the experience of your scent and make up 70-80% of the perfume profile. This is the true nature of your fragrance, revealing the character of the scent. They are longer lasing after the initial top notes fade, dominating the profile for 20-60 minutes on average. However, they never truly disappear, they will remain a part of the fragrance for the duration of wear.”

“Heart notes are often deep, full-bodied and aromatic floral oils like jasmine, geranium, neroli and ylang-ylang, as well as spicier notes such as cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, pine, lemongrass, black pepper and cardamom. They complement the base notes, which can smell more unappealing on their own. When shopping for fragrance, I would suggest starting by selecting scents with a heart note that you are particularly drawn to, rather than focusing on top or base notes.”

“Tom Ford’s take on the classic eau de cologne Neroli Portofino£116 has African orange flower, jasmine, neroli and pittosporum at the heart.”

All About The Base

“The base notes are the foundation of the fragrance; they are the final notes that appear and mingle with the heart notes. These are what give you the lasting impression of the scent. Base notes tend to be rich, robust, and long lasting as they sink into your skin. This makes them last for more than six hours. They usually start to be revealed after 30 minutes of wear and the scent of the base notes tend to linger on the skin, lasting for hours.”

“These are the headiest notes in the fragrance, and support lighter smells, so popular base notes include vanilla, amber, musk, patchouli, moss and woody notes like sandalwood and cedarwood. They wouldn’t necessarily be scents we are drawn to on their own, but combined with top and heart notes, they are incredibly appealing.”

Lancôme La Vie est Belle£75 is a feminine perfume created by perfumers Olivier Polge and Dominique Ropion with base notes of tonka bean, vanilla, praline and patchouli.”

Pick The Right Notes

Now you have mastered the art of knowing how fragrance notes work and why they are important in creating a beautiful perfume have a nose at the new launches and bestsellers at

Features Image by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels