17 Popular Fragrance Notes You’ll Love
Fragrance notes are the essence of every scent. They are the main ingredients that seamlessly blend together to add life to any fragrance, while also standing out individually, on their own. As you may already know, every perfume is divided into three acts—top, heart, and base notes, all of which bring depth and character to the fragrance, making it unique. It’s also what categorises your perfume into ‘families’. Whether it’s floral, woody, spicy, citrus (amongst many others), your notes are what pretty much defines a fragrance. In all honesty, there are thousands of notes that are present in the plethora of fragrances available in the market. And while the niche ones are loved too, there are some that really resonate with the crowd and have a special corner in many hearts. Be it longevity, uniqueness, or simply comfort, here’s everything you need to know about 17 of the most popular fragrance notes the audience loves and just can’t get enough of.
A floral and fruity fragrance, the ylang ylang flower opens up to sweet pear like essence and then goes into a more floral zone. Ylang ylang originates in South East Asia, and has a very rich sensual scent. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and floral, and is perfect for someone who is looking for a light and airy daytime fragrance. Ylang ylang also layers well with deeper notes like vetiver and sandalwood too.
When you think of floral fragrances, it’s hard to ignore roses. This beloved note is present in many floral scents, from classics to contemporaries. Usually found as a top or a heart note, roses in fragrances are usually sourced from France, Bulgaria, India, Turkey, or Russia. Other than its ability to trigger fond memories (your grandmother’s hug or a warm summer day in a garden), the reason for its popularity is all thanks to the versatility it hosts—it can adapt beautifully to other notes such as woody, citrus, or fruity.
This note is definitely a classic, meant for those who are looking to add that feminine touch to their fragrance wardrobe.
A fresh and citrusy note, bergamot is derived from the bergamot orange that is grown predominantly in Italy. A key top note in many fragrances, this favourite has a rather refreshing and uplifting vibe to it. Known to blend well with other citrusy aromatic notes, bergamot essential oil is actually popular for being able to balance out a mix of other notes and therefore, really assist in enhancing any fragrance.
Due to its uplifting and charismatic nature, this note truly fits in with those looking for that burst of calming energy with their fragrances.
One of the most popular base notes, ambergris has a warm and musky essence to it. Derived from the sperm of whales, it has a very subtle scent that actually lingers on for hours after you wear it. Since the process of derivation can be tedious, expensive, and of course sometimes in violation of animal rights, the notes are now synthetically created to give you the same effect. It’s sensual and adds depth to any fragrance. Ambergris pairs well with other warm notes like musk, oud, or even sandalwood, but can be layered with florals such as rose and jasmine too.
Another citrus favourite, lemon is often found in the top notes of fragrances. This is mainly because it has the ability to catch your attention in the first whiff itself. Often sourced from the Middle East, Spain, and Africa, lemon notes bring a vibrant and refreshing essence to a fragrance. They, however, aren’t very long lasting and therefore are only usually present as top notes as they fade easily.
Just like most citrus notes, this one too is perfect for those looking for a cheerful and uplifting scent that instantly energises. Great for the sporty and outdoorsy kind.
An Indian favourite, the Jasmine flower is usually sourced from France, Italy, China and India. It has a very potent sweet, white floral, and fresh green scent that instantly embraces your olfactory. It is one of the oldest ingredients in perfumery and is also one of the most expensive. Jasmine is often present as the top or heart note in any fragrance, and blends well with other floral notes too. After rose, jasmine is probably one of the most popular florals that is used in fragrances.
While this note might seem feminine like rose, it actually blends very well with other woody and spicy notes, and can be found often in men’s perfumes too.
A rather popular base note in many fragrances, tobacco is reminiscent of the warm and smokey essence of its namesake. Commonly found in men’s fragrances, it has an almost herb-like essence to it. You can often pair tobacco with floral and spicy notes, and even with something warm and sweet like vanilla. Thanks to its long-lasting nature, it is present as the strong base note in most fragrances. A fragrance with notes of tobacco lends itself well to date night.
An aromatic note that usually makes itself apparent in the base of any fragrance, musk originated from the glands on the Tibetan musk deer (now endangered). Currently, it is synthetically produced to add a spicy and woody texture to scents to give them depth. Due to their long-lasting nature, musk notes are often used as the base of the fragrance—the rest of the notes may fade away, but this particular one lingers on for far longer. They are versatile in nature and tend to pair well with florals, fruity, spicy, woody, gourmand, and citrus notes too.
Another extremely sweet and citrusy scent, this top note favourite is very similar to its lemon counterpart. Mandarin orange, however, has more staying power and is a tad stronger than other citrus notes of its kind. This one is sweet, rich, and refreshing, and is often very feminine and delicate. It pairs well with florals, as well as deeper notes like spices or leather. It’s the perfect sensual scent—possibly suited for a romantic date night, maybe?
Lily Of The Valley
Commonly found in the top and heart notes of any fragrance, lily of the valley is the subtle floral you reach out to when you’re looking for comfort. It has a delicate, jasmine-esque smell, but with a green and musky essence to it. Layering well with other florals like rose, peony, and jasmine, it also combines well with fruity and woody notes too.
A sweet and warm fragrance that will remind you of Christmases past, there’s something very comforting about vanilla. A base note in nature, this oriental ingredient has a dark scent that leaves you with a sensation of sweetness. It is very malleable and can be paired with a variety of contrasting notes that give it a different feel. You can pair it with florals for a more feminine wear, or with other spicy or woody notes for that intense night time allure.
Often used as a base note, patchouli originates from Malaysia and India. The bush has an almost sweet and musky scent, with a hint of spiciness to it. Depending on the intensity, it has the ability to change the fragrance family of a scent, while retaining its essence. It is actually a pretty common base note in floral perfumes. A great choice for the colder months, this note has an earthy undertone which makes it a viable option for winters too.
Remember the symbolic mysore sandalwood we’ve all grown up loving? Sandalwood oil is exactly that. Found as a base note in perfumes, sandalwood is an oriental woody and sweet scent that adds a whole lot of depth and dimension to the fragrance. It has two contrasting scents—a milky, almost cream essence paired with an intense woody undertone. It’s sensual, dramatic, and adds so much character to any fragrance.
Found in aquatic, marine-inspired fragrances, sea salt literally triggers the beach holidays of your past. The savoury note reminds you of the crisp ocean breeze, and often pairs well with woody notes like sage and vetiver, as well as sweet notes like vanilla and chocolate. Many popular citrus fragrances feature a note of sea salt.
Derived from the agarwood tree found in Asia, this Middle-Eastern favourite is known as liquid gold. It has a dark, intense, balsamic, and almost sensual tone that’s warm, earthy, and smokey. By itself, oud is very complex, however as a base note in fragrances it adds a depth and longevity to the scent. Pairing well with florals like rose and lavender, oud also layers amazingly with other woody and earthy notes like cedarwood, cinnamon, and even leather. Depending on its intensity, it makes for both a great day and evening perfume.
If you were to define vetiver in one word, it would be earthy. Leaving you with a moist and woody fragrance, vetiver is a common base note for many scents. Thanks to its smokey undertones, it adds a rather distinctive tone and leaves you with a refreshing feel during its wear. Pairing well with fruity, citrus, and floral notes too, it is the ultimate go-to for that ultimate warmth in nature.
Part of the spice fragrance family, pepper is commonly used to add that woody and spicy essence to the scent. Found as a top, middle, and base note, it is warm and rather intense. It adds this sharp, yet slightly sweet aroma to any scent. Paired well with woody and oriental notes pepper can be found in fragrances that have notes of musks or even citrus fragrances.