Natural Perfumes from Essential Oils

A perfume blend is made up of notes which are the distinct parts and phases of a fragrance. The transition includes top notes which fade into middle notes which fade into base notes. It is the classical perfumer’s goal for the oils to flow smoothly from one note to the next, achieved by choosing ingredients that work and relate in harmony with the other components of the fragrance. The term that’s used for this is “accord”. However, note that division between the notes is not always exact, and it is possible for a single oil to carry over from one phase to the next.

Top notes

Top notes, or head notes, are what you smell first after the perfume has been applied to the skin. They tend to be short in duration, only lasting a few minutes.

Listing of essential oils which are used as top notes in perfumes and colognes.

Middle notes

Middle notes, otherwise known as heart notes or medium notes, become noticeable after the top notes have faded. They are the substance of the fragrance, lasting up to several hours. The middle notes help determine what fragrance family the perfume blend belongs to (ie floral, spicy, oriental, etc).

Listing of essential oils which are used as middle notes in perfumes and colognes.

Base notes

Base notes, also called bottom notes, lower notes, and back notes, are the long-lasting parts of the fragrance, acting as fixatives and sometimes lasting days on the skin. They lend depth and intesity to the perfume, appearing in the “drydown” period after the middle notes fade.

Listing of essential oils which are used as base notes in perfumes and colognes.

“In these ways, discovering the art of natural perfumery was like crossing the threshold of a beautiful old house and finding it utterly intact and splendidly furnished but deserted, as if it had been suddenly abandoned and was waiting to be reclaimed.” -Mandy Aftel in Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume

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