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  1. #1

    Question Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    I understand a fair bit about the role that top, middle and base notes play in a perfume but there is something that confuses me! I've rarely seen florals featured as base notes, (understandably this place is usually reserved for the heavier materials like woods and musks). But every now and then I do see a floral note used as a base note. My question is: Does this mean that this particular floral note will only make its presence known towards the end of drydown, or does it mean that this note will make its presence known in the top or middle but will last longer than the other top or middle notes? And does anyone know how they make a floral last long enough to qualify as a base note??

    Any info about this is very welcome! thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Hi Lalage,
    probably not the answer you are looking for but this could also be a source of good info Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume (Paperback)
    by Mandy Aftel, you can find it on amazon.co.uk
    To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
    Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970),

  3. #3

    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lalage
    I understand a fair bit about the role that top, middle and base notes play in a perfume but there is something that confuses me! I've rarely seen florals featured as base notes, (understandably this place is usually reserved for the heavier materials like woods and musks). But every now and then I do see a floral note used as a base note.
    Most floral notes are heart notes. It's just their nature - to last this long and be generally "in the middle". Most of them also create a rounding effect, so in a sense they are mediators in a composition (that's why you'll often find rose or jasmine in a perfume - they bind up the components of the perfume and smooth rough edges; you can call them the "mediators" for doing so!).

    However, some florals are base notes. Cassie (a type of mimosa) absolute is a rare example of a floral base note. Orange blossom absolute is also somewhere in between a heart and a base note as it's very long lasting. Some florals are top notes too, or a bridge between middle and top (mimosa absolute, some ylang ylangs - depending on the particular specimen, frangipani absolute and a few others).

    Quote Originally Posted by Lalage
    My question is: Does this mean that this particular floral note will only make its presence known towards the end of drydown, or does it mean that this note will make its presence known in the top or middle but will last longer than the other top or middle notes? And does anyone know how they make a floral last long enough to qualify as a base note??
    Generally speaking, when talking about top, heart and base notes we refer to the longevity of the note: how long does it last on its own (either on the skin or on a paper strip)?
    When the notes - top, heart, base - are blended into a perfume, they act differently though: the base notes are also acting as fixatives, helping the heart and top notes linger longer; the top notes lift up elements from other notes and make them diffuse more in the beginning. A perfume is more than a sum of all parts. By this I mean, that if a perfume has a top note of bergamot, a heart of jasmine and a base of sandalwood - it doesn't meant that it smells like bergamot at first, than like jasmine and finally after all else wears off you will smell the sandalwood.
    The dynamics between the notes are more like this:
    First you will smell the combination of all three, with most of the bergamot floating forward, carrying with it a bit of jasmine headiness, and you might even smell a hint of sandalwood or the base notes (depending on how strong they are; sandalwood is pretty mellow so it's going to be less apparent in the beginning);
    Than, the bergmot will become quieter (not disappear yet though!) and the jasmine will start showing off. Through the phase of "heart notes" (generally speaking, starting about 30 mintues after application, and going on for 2-5 hours after application) - the base notes will emerge. In this case, you may notice a certain creaminess about the jasmine. If the base note was a louder note (i.e.: patchouli or oakmoss) it will be more apparent than a quiet note such as sandalwood.
    Finally, at the dry-down stage, most of the other notes subside, and you will be left with mostly the base. In this case - sandalwood. You may still get whiffs of the jasmine or the heart note (depending on the make up of the particular perfume), but mostly what you'll smell is the base notes and your own skin's interaction with them. After all, your skin is the base for the base notes!

    So - to make a long story short - you will smell the base notes through out the composition, but in the final stages you will most likely smell only the base notes + you skin, as the top and heart notes would have disappeared by than.

    Quote Originally Posted by StellaG
    Hi Lalage,
    probably not the answer you are looking for but this could also be a source of good info Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume (Paperback)
    by Mandy Aftel, you can find it on amazon.co.uk
    Stella,
    This is a good source. However, it refers to natural materials only. Aromachemical engineers have the ability to use a note that naturally is only a top/heart/base and manipulate it in such as a way as to make it last longer or for a lesser amount of time.

    In Natural Perfumery, such manipulation is possible to certain degree, by the selection of extraction methods. In many cases, when an absolute is extracted, it will be heavier and denser than the essential oil. For instnace:

    Black pepper essential oil = top note
    Black pepper absolute = heart note

    Clove bud essential oil = heart note
    Clove bud absolute = base note

    Lavender essential oil = top note
    Lavender absolute = heart note
    Lavender concrete = base note

    Orange blossom essential oil (aka Neroli) = mid to top note
    Orange blossom absolute = mid to base note

    And so on.
    Ayala Moriel, Perfumer
    Ayala Moriel Parfums http://www.ayalamoriel.com/
    Visit my SmellyBlog: http://www.smellyblog.com/

  4. #4

    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Hi Ayala
    Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative, interesting and very helpful reply! I understand it all a lot better now. (hugs)

  5. #5
    moondeva's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ayala
    Most floral notes are heart notes. It's just their nature - to last this long and be generally "in the middle". Most of them also create a rounding effect, so in a sense they are mediators in a composition (that's why you'll often find rose or jasmine in a perfume - they bind up the components of the perfume and smooth rough edges; you can call them the "mediators" for doing so!).

    However, some florals are base notes. Cassie (a type of mimosa) absolute is a rare example of a floral base note. Orange blossom absolute is also somewhere in between a heart and a base note as it's very long lasting. Some florals are top notes too, or a bridge between middle and top (mimosa absolute, some ylang ylangs - depending on the particular specimen, frangipani absolute and a few others).



    Generally speaking, when talking about top, heart and base notes we refer to the longevity of the note: how long does it last on its own (either on the skin or on a paper strip)?
    When the notes - top, heart, base - are blended into a perfume, they act differently though: the base notes are also acting as fixatives, helping the heart and top notes linger longer; the top notes lift up elements from other notes and make them diffuse more in the beginning. A perfume is more than a sum of all parts. By this I mean, that if a perfume has a top note of bergamot, a heart of jasmine and a base of sandalwood - it doesn't meant that it smells like bergamot at first, than like jasmine and finally after all else wears off you will smell the sandalwood.
    The dynamics between the notes are more like this:
    First you will smell the combination of all three, with most of the bergamot floating forward, carrying with it a bit of jasmine headiness, and you might even smell a hint of sandalwood or the base notes (depending on how strong they are; sandalwood is pretty mellow so it's going to be less apparent in the beginning);
    Than, the bergmot will become quieter (not disappear yet though!) and the jasmine will start showing off. Through the phase of "heart notes" (generally speaking, starting about 30 mintues after application, and going on for 2-5 hours after application) - the base notes will emerge. In this case, you may notice a certain creaminess about the jasmine. If the base note was a louder note (i.e.: patchouli or oakmoss) it will be more apparent than a quiet note such as sandalwood.
    Finally, at the dry-down stage, most of the other notes subside, and you will be left with mostly the base. In this case - sandalwood. You may still get whiffs of the jasmine or the heart note (depending on the make up of the particular perfume), but mostly what you'll smell is the base notes and your own skin's interaction with them. After all, your skin is the base for the base notes!

    So - to make a long story short - you will smell the base notes through out the composition, but in the final stages you will most likely smell only the base notes + you skin, as the top and heart notes would have disappeared by than.



    Stella,
    This is a good source. However, it refers to natural materials only. Aromachemical engineers have the ability to use a note that naturally is only a top/heart/base and manipulate it in such as a way as to make it last longer or for a lesser amount of time.

    In Natural Perfumery, such manipulation is possible to certain degree, by the selection of extraction methods. In many cases, when an absolute is extracted, it will be heavier and denser than the essential oil. For instnace:

    Black pepper essential oil = top note
    Black pepper absolute = heart note

    Clove bud essential oil = heart note
    Clove bud absolute = base note

    Lavender essential oil = top note
    Lavender absolute = heart note
    Lavender concrete = base note

    Orange blossom essential oil (aka Neroli) = mid to top note
    Orange blossom absolute = mid to base note

    And so on.
    This is one of the clearest, concise, informative posts I have ever read - thank you, Ayala! I have learnt something new myself today.

    Favourite (Winter) Crazy Combos

    Tabu + Orange Blossom * Hermes Rouge + Bellodgia* Voleur du Roses+ Rose Ispahan * Rasa Extreme + Paris * Wood Coffee + Cafe Noir *

  6. #6

    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Quote Originally Posted by moondeva
    This is one of the clearest, concise, informative posts I have ever read - thank you, Ayala! I have learnt something new myself today.

    You are most welcome, Moondeva!
    I am glad this was helpful.
    Ayala Moriel, Perfumer
    Ayala Moriel Parfums http://www.ayalamoriel.com/
    Visit my SmellyBlog: http://www.smellyblog.com/

  7. #7

    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Ayala, I love seeing your smiling face and know I am going to hear something useful. This explanation of the notes has really helped my questioning mind, thank you.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Question about notes (top, middle, base)

    Hi Ayala, thank you for your posting, but I really have manyyyyyyyy questions in my head about this topic. Main question: How they can put such a materials like vetiver or cedar in top notes, bergamot on base or orris in top, middle and base? really it confuses me..... can you help me to clarify it? SORRY ABOUT MY ENGLISH.

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