What does a perfume smell like?

14 February, 2020

“It’s my fragrance” or “That smell takes me back to my childhood” are some of the things people say every day and, without us realising, those statements we make are actually profoundly complex.

A perfume is an original creation and, as any work of art, it comes alive in people’s minds, evoking as many different sensations as there are human beings.

And yet, something as ethereal as a scent is built with a perfect architecture of notes, born in the mind of perfume makers, combining ingredients in order to reach the most unattainable of all universes, the one where emotions live. Getting to know the inner world of each perfume better will help us enjoy fragrances more, choosing the combination of chords we like best for each instant, mood and moment in life.

A perfume’s head notes are the first point of contact with it. These are the notes we perceive during the first minutes and they tend to evaporate quickly, but their impact is nevertheless very intense. After a little while, the fragrance evolves towards its heart notes and it can turn into something totally different from what it seemed to be at the beginning. The perfume is now less intense but it lasts longer.

Finally, five to ten minutes after first perceiving the perfume, the longest lasting base notes appear. These are the ones that linger, allowing the perfume to live on for hours. All of these three layers –head, heart and base– make up the fragrance pyramid. The time each group of notes lasts depends on the actual composition of the perfume.

The fragrance pyramid is therefore something like a perfume’s DNA, the description of its structure, which allows us to identify the notes and ingredients that make up each perfume, and the evolution of the harmonies and chords those notes create.

It is not enough to take in the smell for a few moments, you have to let yourself be carried away by it and feel the story each scent creation wants to share with you.