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  1. #1

    Default Why the topnotes?

    I often wonder why the heck perfume makers even bother with topnotes. Sometimes I sample a fragrance and think "WOW" this is great! Only to sniff it a few minutes later and cringe at what it started out to be, and how it wound up. One example that stands out to me is Voleur de Roses. When I first sampled it, the first sniff made me think "this is going to be in my top 3 for sure!" Then, 5 minutes later, I couldn't believe what it turned in to. Not that it's horrible, but not my cup of tea and certainly not what it started out to be. I don't even look at topnotes now when I look at descriptions of fragrances now because it's such a waste. I go straight down to see what the bottom notes are because that's what I, and everyone else around me, am going to smell.

    So why the topnotes? Is it just a personal "appetizer" for us? I just can't figure it ... :question

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    In my experience sampling fragrances in retail stores, most other customers I have observed make purchase decisions based solely on how the fragrance smells immediately after application. Very few people wait even a minute or two before judging a fragrance. So the topnotes of a fragrance are critical for retail success.

    Personally, I don't care what a fragrance smells like until it dries down, but I think topnotes often form a persistent part of the overall development of a scent and I don't necessarily consider the term "topnotes" to be synonymous with just the first five minutes of drydown.

    --Steve
    Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

    My sales thread: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/304...85#post2614885

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Topnotes usually are made up of weak notes that evaporate the fastest. A scent made up of "topnotes" only will last 5 minutes. Then you have to reapply. Think of 4711 which is made up of topnotes and doesn't last for anything. Simply increasing the concentration wont' work since it will turn the note bitter. Bottom notes don't smell as good. So fragrances gradually go from top to middle to the base notes. The middle notes are where the majority of the smelly time should last. By the time you get to the bottom notes the fragrance should have died down leaving a faint trail. So it is a complex act of progressing from top to bottom keeping the right amount of concentration for each note.
    The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
    -- Marcel Proust

  4. #4
    phantagarow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    If you change the topnotes of a fragrance, you also change the drydown because different ingredients react (both with your skin and among themselves) differently. On the other hand, artists would hate to paint a portrait and leave one of the ears out...
    "Whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent thereof." --Wittgenstein

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?


    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! It slows the drydown. Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    *********************



    Close your eyes, so you can see what you're smelling.

    "Press trigger twice to release the strength of wood...the wantonness of vanilla...the sentiment of floral...the passion of spice!"


    ~My reviews~

    ~My Wardrobe~



    I WANT MORE CHYPRE!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! *It slows the drydown. *Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    hmm sounds interesting, but i'm highly suspicious of this.
    Let your nose be your pilot

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    I think a good fragrance composition has an even drydown, no surprises at the end, and ziffy made a good point about fragrance drydowns being a total let-down because many a times the base notes are very awry and unbalanced and resembled nothing of it's fragrance minutes ago. It's also highly possible it could be body chemistry and doesn't keep it's true scent as intended.

    I think the art of creating a well made fragrance is lost. A lot of new fragrances aren't very original and just an interpretation of what current "trend" is out there right now. Sadly I fall victim to it myself, but what ever happened to truly good fragrance compositions???? I think it's a rare thing now.

    I'll use Calvin Klein fragrances as an example for comparison. He's created very high quality and original fragrances in the beginning. I think Obsession, Eternity, Escape, Contradiction, Truth and yes (I know everyone is going to groan now) the unisex CK One are good fragrances actually, composition wise, they last a long time on the skin, and there are no surprises in the end, they actually smell much like it did when you first sprayed it on. Many fragrances these days go from one extreme to the next, they begin fresh and very bright, and evolves (or rather evaporates) to a heady, musky scent, all too quickly I might add. Some people like this, but I myself think it's bad fragrance composition and "cheaply" done, in a sense.

    Just my thought, after all I'm not a chemist or a "nose". And on this CK trip, I think Crave was a bad creation, VERY BAD! He might be on the upswing again with Obsession Night, but I still think it wasn't very well thought out like his first frags.

    Okay, people, you can hate me now, hehe!
    *********************



    Close your eyes, so you can see what you're smelling.

    "Press trigger twice to release the strength of wood...the wantonness of vanilla...the sentiment of floral...the passion of spice!"


    ~My reviews~

    ~My Wardrobe~



    I WANT MORE CHYPRE!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! *It slows the drydown. *Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    This is exactly what I was going to post. I always spray on my shirt and that leaves the topnotes around longer. This is especially true when I wear Habit Rouge.

    I don't do this with a linear scent like Pi unless it would be a scent that would not last long on my skin.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! *It slows the drydown. *Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    So now, if you're spraying on your clothes ... let's say your shirt ... are you spraying the inside or outside of the shirt?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ziffy321
    [quote author=iMaverick link=1122341717/0#4 date=1122354428]
    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! *It slows the drydown. *Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    So now, if you're spraying on your clothes ... let's say your shirt ... are you spraying the inside or outside of the shirt?[/quote]

    I spray on the outside. But I make sure not to get it on my jacket or tie since I wear different fragrances each day.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    I think the art of creating a well made fragrance is lost. *A lot of new fragrances aren't very original and just an interpretation of what current "trend" is out there right now.
    I agree with what you're saying here.
    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    composition wise, they last a long time on the skin, and there are no surprises in the end, they actually smell much like it did when you first sprayed it on. *Many fragrances these days go from one extreme to the next, they begin fresh and very bright, and evolves (or rather evaporates) *to a heady, musky scent, all too quickly I might add. *Some people like this, but I myself think it's bad fragrance composition and "cheaply" done, in a sense.
    This part i have to disagree strongly. Firstly, it is harder to make a scent evolve than to produce something linear. Linear fragrances harken to the beginning of fragrances when people just used lavender scents or rose scents, single note entities but they quickly grew tired of this and sought out more exotic fragrances. Soon as the perfumers' palette grew, they began to mix and match ingredients and developed their skill. Evolution became the sign of a master perfumer. The topnotes must meld seamlessly into the midnotes and finally drydown to a base that unites the whole creation in a movement like that of an orchestra. Imagine if you had an orchestra full of only flutes and nothing else. If a scent doesn't evolve, there's no music.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    I think one reason for top notes that hasn't been mentioned yet is that it disquices the smell of alcohol before it evaporates. At least my sniffer smells the alcohol for example in Swiss Army and while I like the scent, the initial smell isn't that appealing.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by ziffy321

    So now, if you're spraying on your clothes ... let's say your shirt ... are you spraying the inside or outside of the shirt?
    I usually spray on the cuffs of my sleeves, otherwise near the collar of my shirt. Depends on how 'near' you would like your fragrance to be from your nose.
    *********************



    Close your eyes, so you can see what you're smelling.

    "Press trigger twice to release the strength of wood...the wantonness of vanilla...the sentiment of floral...the passion of spice!"


    ~My reviews~

    ~My Wardrobe~



    I WANT MORE CHYPRE!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by milamber
    [quote author=iMaverick link=1122341717/0#6 date=1122369832]
    I think the art of creating a well made fragrance is lost. A lot of new fragrances aren't very original and just an interpretation of what current "trend" is out there right now.
    I agree with what you're saying here.
    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    composition wise, they last a long time on the skin, and there are no surprises in the end, they actually smell much like it did when you first sprayed it on. Many fragrances these days go from one extreme to the next, they begin fresh and very bright, and evolves (or rather evaporates) to a heady, musky scent, all too quickly I might add. Some people like this, but I myself think it's bad fragrance composition and "cheaply" done, in a sense.
    This part i have to disagree strongly. Firstly, it is harder to make a scent evolve than to produce something linear. Linear fragrances harken to the beginning of fragrances when people just used lavender scents or rose scents, single note entities but they quickly grew tired of this and sought out more exotic fragrances. Soon as the perfumers' palette grew, they began to mix and match ingredients and developed their skill. Evolution became the sign of a master perfumer. The topnotes must meld seamlessly into the midnotes and finally drydown to a base that unites the whole creation in a movement like that of an orchestra. Imagine if you had an orchestra full of only flutes and nothing else. If a scent doesn't evolve, there's no music. [/quote]

    Good point, however I was dancing to a waltz, only to be surprised I have to dance the Mazurka now! It's perhaps some fragrances are not as harmonious as others. They don't meld seamlessly as you put it. Fragrance should be more like wine and never leave you with a heavy or unpleasant aftertaste.

    But I'm idealizing, not being a master perfumer. [smiley=engel017.gif]
    *********************



    Close your eyes, so you can see what you're smelling.

    "Press trigger twice to release the strength of wood...the wantonness of vanilla...the sentiment of floral...the passion of spice!"


    ~My reviews~

    ~My Wardrobe~



    I WANT MORE CHYPRE!

  15. #15

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    The top notes never really go away completely. If you exhale through your mouth on the area where you applied the fragrance, say your wrist for example . you will get a quick wiff of them again even after 3 or more hrs.

  16. #16
    dr_spine
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    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by smellitnow
    The top notes never really go away completely. If you exhale through your mouth on the area where you applied the fragrance, say your wrist for example . you will get a quick wiff of them again even after 3 or more hrs.

    WHOA! WEIRD!!! I just tried that on my arm....i sprayed SMW on this morning and could not smell it anymore (been about 7 hours) and i just exhaled on it and sniffed, and it came out again. [smiley=shocked.gif]

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by smellitnow
    The top notes never really go away completely. If you exhale through your mouth on the area where you applied the fragrance, * say your wrist for example . you will get a quick wiff of them again even after 3 or more hrs.
    That's funny ... I actually learned that trick some time back when I started sampling fragrances on the back of my hand. You can bring it back to life for a brief minute by giving it a quick HHHHUUUUHHHH (like when you try to fog up your glasses to clean them).

    2 problems with that. First, it's REALLY hard to blow on my own cheek or neck to bring the scent alive again. Second, it only lasts a very short time, like the original topnotes. Which brings me back to my original thought. It's only an appetizer for the user, and no one else. I want everyone else to share in what I'm wearing, especially the good parts.

    So again, why bother? [smiley=huh.gif]

  18. #18
    Paul G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by iMaverick
    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! *It slows the drydown. *Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    I do this as well on my undershirt and it does exactly what he says. It's a way of prolonging the top notes as well as the scent in general.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    I decided to open up my copy of Mandy Aftel's wonderful book, Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume, to see what she had to say.

    The perfume without head notes (top notes) will seem flat. To quote Gaston Bachelard, "With air, movement takes precedence over matter." Basically, top notes provide lift to the essence of the fragrance. Without them, the rest of the scent may lay there with little will of its own, content to stay still and lay low, hidden like a shy child hugging the leg of their parent.

    Ms. Aftel goes on to describe the role of top notes as the starting point in the imagination of the smeller, lending it an initial definition.

    To me, the top note is sort of the spark plug in getting the engine started. It gets your attention and sets you in your seat for the journey you are about to take. Sometimes they are pleasant and the best part of a scent (i.e. Yerbamate for me since I love the sweet hay notes), sometimes they are downright something I put up with to get to the better part of a fragrance (i.e. Santal Noble which is downright unruly and unattractive for about the first 5-10 minutes on me, then becomes a brilliant piece of tapestry) and other times, they are chaotic and loud, announcing their presence with a loud crash before the order emerges from chaos (i.e. Piper Nigrum, which is a battle royale of notes vying for dominance until few remain and can work together in harmony as their brethren are thrown into the ether).

    That's my .02

  20. #20

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeFromManhattan
    [quote author=iMaverick link=1122341717/0#4 date=1122354428]
    IF YOU LIKE THE TOPNOTES....

    One trick I've learned on scents where I like the topnotes best is to spray it on your clothing (yeah, I know this is a no-no for the fragrance addict) instead of skin--works for me! *It slows the drydown. *Also, deep scents like Allure and Casual Friday, I tend to spray it on my clothes because I think I create a lot of body heat that makes the top and middle notes evaporate like the alcohol it was mixed in...GIVE IT A TRY!
    This is exactly what I was going to post. I always spray on my shirt and that leaves the topnotes around longer. This is especially true when I wear Habit Rouge.

    I don't do this with a linear scent like Pi unless it would be a scent that would not last long on my skin.[/quote]

    That's very true, if you spray on your clothes, I can only smell the top note as it does not heat up and develop like on your skin.

  21. #21
    Yvan
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    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scentsational
    I decided to open up my copy of Mandy Aftel's wonderful book, Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume, to see what she had to say.

    The perfume without head notes (top notes) will seem flat. To quote Gaston Bachelard, "With air, movement takes precedence over matter." Basically, top notes provide lift to the essence of the fragrance. Without them, the rest of the scent may lay there with little will of its own, content to stay still and lay low, hidden like a shy child hugging the leg of their parent.
    She's right, and I speak from personal experience. *A while back, I put together my first four small blends of homemade fragrance using essential oils and alcohol, and I blended together bergamot, anise, clove, vanilla, benzoin, sandal and cedar. *I wanted the accent to be on the base notes. *As the primer says in the Fragrance D.I.Y. section of the forum, you want a ratio, on average, of 3 drops of an essential oil for a top note to 2 drops of a heart note to 1 drop of a base note, mainly because the top notes burn off quickly and half less impact on the overall creation. *But in my blends, the volumes of the top, the heart and the base were pretty much the same, because I wanted the base notes to stand out. *The blends turned out to be smooth and smelled okay, but they were oppressively base-heavy and linear. *I realized I needed more citrus, floral, herbal and other notes to give it lift and dimension, but mainly I needed to increase the number of drops for the top and heart notes and back off on the base notes. *Live and learn...and I'm sure the next time I have fun experimenting, it'll smell a lot better!

  22. #22

    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    IMO,top notes is just the way a perfumer uses certain oils,top notes being the strongest and the base being the weakest,the goal is to articulate the way they all come together,like cooking in a way.
    IMO
    R-

  23. #23

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why the topnotes?

    Those who experiment with fragrant oils and colognes may have noticed that the carrier (ethanol, alcohol, wodka etc.) often has an unwanted smell of its own. I believe that a main purpose of those citrus notes is to cover that alcoholic vapor immediately. Citrus notes, while pleasant, seem to reach us quicker than the rest. Even with those, you often get an alcohilic, somewhat medicinal smell first if you bring your nose too quickly to the test strip or skin.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

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