What are Fragrance Notes? Top, Heart + Base Notes Explained

Discover everything you need to know about fragrance notes including the differences between top notes, heart notes and base notes.

Darlings, when it comes to fragrance, there is so much to uncover! Every single fragrance is made up of multiple layers of individual scents that build up the overall final scent profile. We call these scent layers ‘fragrance notes’!

Discover everything you need to know about fragrance notes including how to find the notes of your perfume and the top, heart and base notes for each of the scents in my Fragrance Collection of Emotions – a collection of six fragrances proven to unlock emotions of love, happiness, seduction, calm, energy and empowerment!

What are fragrance notes?

Fragrance notes are layers of scent that are layered to form the final fragrance. Fragrance notes are categorised into three main elements based on how long they take to evaporate, and how long they typically last following application: top notes, heart notes and base notes.

These scent notes work together in harmony and develop into the final fragrance, but what are top notes, heart notes and base notes and which notes are the strongest? Read on to discover everything you need to know!

Fragrance Notes Pyramid

  1. Lavender top note ingredient from Calm Bliss eau de parfum

    What are Top Notes?

    Also known as the opening notes or head notes, top notes are the first thing you smell when you apply or spray fragrance and are usually largely composed of citrus and fruity ingredients. Because top notes are made of lighter and smaller molecules, they’re usually the first to fade. Despite evaporating quickly, top notes play an important role in fragrance as they represent a fragrance’s first impression.

  2. Ylang ylang heart note ingredient from Joyphoria eau de parfum

    What are Heart Notes?

    Heart notes are the scents you smell once the top notes have evaporated and usually consist of a wide variety of ingredients including florals, spices and fruits. Typically, heart notes make up approximately 40-80% of the final fragrance. Also known as middle notes, heart notes are what you can smell on your skin after you’ve been wearing a fragrance for a few hours. For this reason, these notes are considered to be the ‘main character’ of a perfume. For example, a fragrance described as floral will have floral heart notes, and so on.

  3. Palo Santo base note ingredient from Magic Energy eau de parfum

    What are Base Notes?

    Base notes are what you can smell once the middle notes of a fragrance have evaporated and are predominantly composed of woody, balsamic and musky ingredients. As base notes are richer and heavier than top and heart notes; they are long-lasting and are the finishing note of a fragrance. Also called the soul notes, base notes help to boost the lighter notes while creating a fragrance’s final, lasting impression.

Which note is strongest in perfume?

Each note plays an important role in fragrance, but the strongest notes are the base notes. As top notes are the first notes to shine through, they’re considered to be the most volatile as they’re quick to appear but also quick to disappear. Heart notes have a complex role as they bring together the fresh top notes and warm base notes and make up the heart of a fragrance. The base notes are the least volatile notes and the notes that linger, staying on clothes and fabrics for hours after initial application.

Tilbury Tip: Curious about fragrance families? Find out everything you need to know about different perfume groups in my guide to olfactive families!

How do I find the notes of my perfume

To find the notes in your perfume, you can speak to the experts at my Charlotte Tilbury beauty counter or visit the product pages on CharlotteTilbury.com or my app, where the top, heart and base notes will be listed for the fragrance you have selected. You can also discover the top, heart and base notes for each perfume from my Fragrance Collection of Emotions below…

  1. The top heart and base notes in Charlotte's Love Frequency fragrance

    Love Frequency 100ml

    Top notes: addictive Pink Pepper

    Heart notes: sultry Saffron, romantic Rose Ultimate Extract, hypnotic Rose Essential

    Base notes: sensual Musk, warm Cashmere Wood, alluring Ambery Woods, intoxicating Patchouli Heart

    Shop Love Frequency

  2. The top heart and base notes in Charlotte's More Sex fragrance

    More Sex 100ml

    Top notes: bold Black Pepper Oil, magnetic Juniper Berry Oil

    Heart notes: seductive Sexual Accord (Ambroxan, sexual Musk, Aldron), addictive Leather Accord

    Base notes: velvety Musk, caressing Ambery Wood, sensual Sandalwood Oil Caledonia

    Shop More Sex

  3. The top heart and base notes in Charlotte's Joyphoria fragrance

    Joyphoria 100ml

    Top notes: joyful Petitgrain Oil, euphoric Coconut Water Accord, uplifting Neroli Oil

    Heart notes: intoxicating Tuberose Absolut, warm Jasmine Sambac, radiant Ylang Ylang

    Base notes: enchanting Vanilla Bean Extract, velvety Cashmere Wood, powdery Musks

    Shop Joyphoria

  4. The top heart and base notes in Charlotte's Magic Energy fragrance

    Magic Energy 100ml

    Top notes: reawakening Bergamot Oil, earthy Myrtle Oil

    Heart notes: sophisticated Cypress Ultimate, sweet Jasmine Sambac, Seaweed Absolute

    Base notes: Cashmere Wood, spiritual Palo Santo Accord, Ambergris Accord, Olibanum Resinoid

    Shop Magic Energy

  5. The top heart and base notes in Charlotte's Calm Bliss fragrance

    Calm Bliss 100ml

    Top notes: fresh Bergamot Oil, sweet Neroli Oil, relaxing Lavandin Oil

    Heart notes: soothing Orange Flower Absolute, refreshing Watery Accord

    Base notes: warm Tonka Bean Accord, pure White Musks, peaceful Orris Concrete

    Shop Calm Bliss

  6. The top heart and base notes in Charlotte's Cosmic Power fragrance

    Cosmic Power 100ml

    Top notes: bold Black Pepper Oil, divine Cinnamon Bark Oil, uplifting Bergamot Oil, fresh Woody Elemi Oil

    Heart notes: opulent Rose Ultimate, empowering Frankincense Accord

    Base notes: mystical Amber Accord, enchanting Vanilla Bean Extract, powdery Musks

    Shop Cosmic Power

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Author Details

Charlotte Tilbury

Founder, President, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

With over 30 years experience, Charlotte Tilbury MBE is the world's number 1 makeup artist and British beauty entrepreneur. Charlotte established Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013, which is now a record-breaking beauty brand that has won over 400 awards.

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