Know your fragrance - The olfactory pyramid

Know your fragrance - The olfactory pyramid

Where to start to create your own perfume?

The starting point are always raw materials. But picking the right ingredients is not enough to create the perfect fragrance: you must know how to mix them too.

In order to achieve a balanced and appealing olfactory composition, it’s therefore essential to know fragrances and their typology.

Since 1800 scents are classified according to musical criteria. Every perfume is divided into different “notes” according to the volatility of essential oils, which corresponds to their evaporation rate in contact with air.

An effective representation of fragrance notes is the olfactory pyramid. The ingredients are therefore organized on three levels based on their evaporation rate. This graphical tool allows to illustrate both the evolution of a scent from the moment of vaporization and its persistence over time.

So let’s discover how the olfactory pyramid work. Proceeding from top to bottom we can recognize three types of perfume notes:

Top or head notes

These are light, fresh and very volatile scents. In fact they are the first ones to be perceived but also the ones which evaporate first. These fresh and fleeting scents are extremely vivid, energetic and exciting. For this reason they are used to catch people’s attention and involve senses, contributing to form the first and crucial impression of a fragrance.

Between head notes there are citrusy scents like lemon, orange, tangerine, bergamot, but also ginger, eucalyptus and lavender. Other scents that belong to this class are the essential oils extracted from herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary.

Middle or heart notes

The intermediate notes can be perceived immediately after the head ones. These strong, enveloping and sensual scents have an average persistence and influence feelings, contributing to awaken deep sensations. Thanks to their mellow and enveloping nature, they also can be used to mask the strongest base notes.

Heart notes can be fruity (peach scent) or floral (rose, thrush, freesia, tuberose, chamomile, jasmine and ylang-ylang scents), but they can remind the smell of green lands or ocean too.

Base notes

Base notes are the last ones to be perceived. Contrary to head notes, these scents appears slower but evaporate just as gradually. Their lasting persistence makes them the soul or “personality” of a fragrance, that lingers long on the skin. Oaky scents like incense, patchouli, cedarwood and sandalwood have a rich, intense and spicy aroma. Other base notes are iris and heliotrope, with their unmistakable chypre and vanilla fragrance, but also caramel, cocoa, coffee, musk, leather and birch scents.

The persistence of these notes makes them perfect to stabilize other volatile scents, but they are also used for their relaxing and calming effect.

Continue to follow Tailor Made Fragrance to discover all the secrets of the greatest perfumers. Learn how easy it can be to make your own perfume and create a unique and custom fragrance mixing your favorite notes and ingredients.


The Venus fragrance Olfactory Pyramid - Available at Tailor Made Fragrance:

Olfactory Pyramid - custom perfume


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