What is the Olfactory Pyramid and How It Works?

How Does the Olfactory Pyramid of Perfume Work?

You now know what you prefer regarding fragrances based on their olfactory families. But what about the physical composition of perfumes and their “smell”? In other words, perfume does not have a “fixed” smell; instead, it evolves between when you spray it and what it releases hours later. Depending on how this perfume is conceived, grown, and dissolved, the olfactory pyramid distinguishes top, middle, and base notes…

Therefore, this article aims to show you how to comprehend the olfactory pyramid of a perfume or an eau de toilette and recognize its various notes.


What is the Olfactory Pyramid?

It is common to hear about the olfactory pyramid when discussing perfumes. What exactly does the expert mean by that? Specifically, it helps us better understand how perfumes “live”. So, eau de toilette evolves and leaves different traces when you wear it the first time and after a few hours.

A perfume’s olfactory pyramid consists of 3 notes, depending on the ingredients used. The most persistent perfume persists, while the most temporary evaporates.

  • top note: from 0 to 2 hours;
  • heart note: 2 to 4 hours
  • base note: up to 24 hours after putting on your perfume.


Notes of Perfumery: Top, Middle, Base

To illustrate our point, let us compare the olfactory pyramid with literature. That is, perfume is like a book that you open (top note), read (heart note), and close, holding sometimes irreplaceable memories (note background).

The notes in this pyramid will now be described as if the metaphor wasn’t explicit enough.

Top note: The Most Impactful

One of the most striking. The constituent elements are brief and light. The scent will linger for approximately 2 hours after spraying the perfume.

There are two types of dominant notes: fresh and lively, which give the first impression of the perfume when we buy it in a store. These dominant notes often indicate whether the perfume can please us or not.

Some fragrances, like One Million by Paco Rabanne or Wanted by Azzaro, are designed to surprise our noses immediately.


Middle Note: The Most Persistent

The middle note usually lasts two to four hours, depending on the component used. The heart note is less intense but lasts longer.

The heart of the perfume can be described as this note, which forms the central theme of the perfume.


Base Note: The Most Memorable

The base note makes perfume last over time, leaving a lasting memory. The top and heart notes are based on this base note, which can last up to 24 hours or several days for some complex fragrances. The juice’s character is determined by the harmony (or the contrast) linking these three notes.

In the base note, tenacious ingredients form the attachment, the loyalty you can feel towards a perfume. These are the traces of odors that women love to smell as they think of you.

The skin type of each of us also implies a sensitive or sometimes flagrant transformation of perfume beyond the olfactory pyramid.

Even if a fragrance is immediately recognizable, it rarely gives off a similar smell on two different individuals, which is another part of its wonder of it.