Aroma Profile: The Basics of Fragrance

The ultimate rite of passage for any scent lover, is finding their signature scent. It lingers in the room, long after you’ve left. It sweetly stains your clothes, sheets, and becomes part of your DNA.

Getting to the stage of mastering perfumery is not easy. Choosing a scent that is harmonious with your body chemistry can be a complex art.  Regardless of how many popular perfumes or colognes you have, the wrong marriage can be a disaster to you (and those around you!).

Without stating the obvious, understanding the very basics of fragrances – from notes to composition – is the key foundation to mastering your aroma profile.

Perfume Notes

A key component to a scent (and why one perfume may cost more than another) is how much lasting power it has. The intensity of a fragrance is classified by how quickly it evaporates, and which of the following three note categories a perfume/colognes true aroma sits in.

  • Top Notes: Evaporates most quickly, lasting between 15-30 mins after application.
  • Middle/Heart Notes: Evaporates less quickly and is the scent received after the top notes evaporate.
  • Base Notes: Evaporates slowly, and lasts over the longest period of time (think: the morning after!).

Any one fragrance can have multiple notes. For example, the iconic Chanel No. 5 has top notes rose-derived scents before settling into base notes of warmer musk, vanilla, amber and sandalwood.

Fragrance Groups

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The Fragrance Wheel – created by Michael Edwards from Fragrances of The World – is most arguably the easiest resource one can use to understand fragrance families. Besides understanding how notes are layered, becoming familiar with the wheel can help fragrance virgins, explore their likes and dislikes for various combinations.

Floral Notes

Families: Floral, Soft Floral, Floral Oriental

If you have an innate attraction to anything flower-related, this is your go-to family. The nose will be drawn to nuances of roses, orchids, cherry blossoms, jasmine, and even a subtly spicy orange blossom (floral oriental).

Women’s Pick
Men’s Pick
Jimmy-Choo-Illicit-Perfume Jean-Paul - Gaultier-floral
Jimmy Choo Illicit (Eau de Parfum), $45          Jean Paul Gualtier Le Male (Eau de Toilette Spray), $60

Oriental Notes

Families:  Soft Oriental, Oriental, Woody Oriental

The warm smell of apple pie. Cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla. These scents encompass the Oriental family. Serving as good heart notes, they are soft, yet sensual – and rich! The woody oriental family, like patchouli and sandalwood, draw in the kinds who play tug-of-war with hard and soft balances of smells.

Women’s Pick
Men’s Pick
Donna-Karen-Cashmere-Mist prada-amber-cologne
Donna Karan Cashmere Mist (Eau de Parfum), $40 Prada Amber Pour Homme, $72

Woody Notes

Families: Woods, Mossy Woods, Dry Woods

Those who are attracted to notes, have a sophistication with nature. They are comfortable in their skin with these strong (but well composed) base notes. And just like nature, these notes are raw. Think, earthy elements like: bark, pine, moss, and other green plants. On a sophisticated spectrum, brand-new leather and smokiness from a Cuban Cohiba can be picked up in this fragrance family.

Women’s Pick
Men’s Pick
Chanel-No-Five-Perfume Gucci-Guilty-Oud-Cologne
Chanel No. 5 (Eau de Parfum), $137        Gucci Guilty Oud (Eau de Parfum), $146

Fresh Notes

Families: Aromatic, Citrus, Water, Green, Fruity

This note category combines more elements than Captain Planet – Fresh notes are the most commonly-loved, and versatile group. The spectrum spans from tangy, sharp, herbaceous smells in the green family, to citrus bergamot and gourmand notes and lab-synthesized fruit fragrances – like – mango, peach, and coconut. The most popular fragrances include top and heart notes from this family.

Women’s Pick
Men’s Pick
Dior-Miss-Dior-Perfume
Dior Miss Dior Cherie (Eau de Toilette), $82 – $115    Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme, $68

 

The Aroma Marketplace is a one-stop, online store in which you can explore all the about fragrance families. Purchase testers of fragrances, or sign up for exclusive samples to add to your collection.

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