Fragrances and Deodorants

The Complete Guide for Beginners to Fragrance

In this article, let’s first understand all kinds of small questions about perfume.

First of all, how long does the front, middle and back notes last? Every fragrance is different. The top notes can be 5 minutes or half an hour. So, it’s not a problem.

Second, what is the principle? The front, middle and back notes are due to the different volatilization rates of different raw materials in the perfume, thus showing the change of smell over time. For example, most citrus notes can only be used as top notes, because its own nature determines that it evaporates quickly. For example, vanilla, woody, and powdery fragrances are usually used as tail notes because of their slow evaporation and long-lasting.

▌Are the front, middle and back notes separate?

No, they were intertwined at the beginning, whoever evaporated faster, whoever was smelled first, disappeared first.

▌Which tone is the soul of perfume?

The soul of a perfume is the whole of the perfume, a harmonious combination of aromas, rather than a separate part.

▌What kind of tune do I smell when I open the cap or just spray it out?

When you open the bottle cap or just spray it out, you smell the whole perfume, and you can smell the scent of the middle and back notes, but the top notes are the strongest at this time, so the more detailed scents in the middle and back notes are often “Stealing the limelight by the front tune” has not been shown yet. When the top notes are exhausted, the details in the middle notes bloom like flowers. And so on, the end joke has the last laugh.

▌What’s up with those perfumes that claim to have “no front, middle and back notes”?

Possibility 1. The volatilization rate of the raw materials used in the perfume is similar, so the smell does not change much from beginning to end. (Perfume quality may be good.)

Possibility 2. The raw materials used in the perfume are very single, very few, and cannot build the layering that a bottle of perfume should have. There are indeed changes in the front, middle and back notes, but it is not obvious. (Perfume quality can be average.)

▌Is it possible that the contents of the front, middle and back notes are exactly the same, but the fragrance smells different?

It is possible, because from the three-tone table, it is impossible to see the proportion of different smells in the perfume. For example, the top notes of perfume A account for a large proportion, and the middle and back notes account for a small amount. The top notes of perfume B are only used for a little embellishment, and the middle and back notes account for a large proportion. Then, the two perfumes of AB and AB smell different.

▌What is the reference for the front, middle and back adjustments?

Although just looking at the front, middle and back notes, it is impossible to know what the proportion of each scent is, but the rigorous front, middle and back notes still have a certain reference. For example, you can guess the direction of the painting style that these smells match. For example, a perfume with agarwood and leather on the inside of the three-tone table is unlikely to be small and fresh; the three-tone table is full of flowers and fruits, so it may be a sweet and lively perfume.

However, the information on the front, middle and back notes of many perfumes on the Internet is messy, and the reference is really limited. But it’s not completely useless, let’s watch half of the letter and play. The official website shall prevail.

▌Why does it have to be divided into three tones, front, middle and back? Can I force a perfume into five tones? Or can I just split a perfume into two notes?

Front, middle and back notes are a simple way of describing the changes in the scent of a perfume. In 1889, the basic structure of modern perfume was established by Guerlain’s Jicky perfume, that is, the front, middle and back notes, also called pyramid structure.

The front tone is relatively short, so it is the top of the tower; the middle tone is equivalent to the tower body; the back tone lasts for a long time, so it is the bottom of the tower.

Although the perfume is divided into three simple tones, it does not mean that the changes of perfume are only two links: “front → middle” and “middle → rear”. It should be said that perfume is constantly changing. The first five minutes of the middle note may smell different from an hour after the middle note.

Front, middle and back notes can be the most practical and concise way to let consumers understand the style of a fragrance. Just like an article is divided into three parts: “Beginning, Body, and End”. Therefore, from the Jicky fragrance, everyone has followed this structure academically.

Guerlain Jicky, 1889
Some perfumes claim to “subtly break the traditional front, middle and back notes, allowing several fragrances to exist at the same time”. This is just a marketing propaganda statement, just for people who don’t understand. Except for linear fragrances (one scent from beginning to end), most fragrances are several scents that exist at the same time and are constantly changing.

A bottle of normal perfume, in most cases, can roughly write a three-tone table according to the raw materials or smells contained in it.

▌Will some perfumes lack one of the front, middle and back notes?

Of course there is. Those perfumes that are very short-lived (such as cologne) have no base notes, or the base notes are too thin.

If a perfume has no top notes, or if the top notes are thin, it will smell “stuffy and the perfume doesn’t come out”.

To understand perfume, you must first understand what the nine fragrance types are.

This principle is like, if we want to eat hot pot, we must first know that our hot pot has Sichuan style hot pot, Cantonese style hot pot, old Beijing copper hot pot, Shunde porridge hot pot, Chaoshan beef ball hot pot, winter melon hot pot, etc., right? Therefore, to systematically understand perfume and become a perfume expert, you can’t get around this knowledge block – the classification of aromas.

When it comes to the classification of aromas, many people will think of the Michael Edwards Fragrance Wheel ring diagram. I think this picture is too professional and too complicated for beginner consumers.

If you don’t believe me, look.

There are also inaccurate ring diagrams circulating on the Chinese Internet, classifying Fu Qixiang as “strong”, citrus moss as “fresh”, leather as “classic”, and then the really ancient citrus tones. The family did not write. In fact, the name “citrus moss tone” is not very accurate.

So how do you start with the classification of aromas? I think it’s enough to simplify Michael Edwards’ ring diagram to have a simple grasp of these categories.

How does it simplify? Look at the simplified diagram I made!

Fragrances are classified according to gender and can be divided into:

Mostly appear in women’s perfumes: floral, fruity, floral and fruity (the combination of flowers and fruits), cypress or chypre, gourmet notes

Mostly found in men’s fragrances: Fougere, Woody

Both male and female fragrances and unisex fragrances appear: citrus, oriental

This classification is not absolute, Suxinlan (chypre) has also appeared in men’s perfumes, and woody has also appeared in women’s perfumes. But different fragrance types have their own characteristics, which determine the fragrance’s preference for masculine or feminine or neutral.

Perfume can be divided into:

Generally fresh: citrus, fruity, floral

Generally strong: Suxinlan (chypre), oriental, gourmet

A step further for freshness, a step back for richness: floral, fudge, woody

More refined, for example, we mentioned green incense, water incense, powder incense, and animal incense, which are all refined on the basis of the above “big categories”.

For example, floral-powder and oriental-powder are completely different, the former is lighter than the latter; Suxinlan-animal and floral-animal are also different, the former is heavier than the latter.

Quite a few fragrance answers make the same mistake – scent confusion.

For example, when recommending a perfume with a “lotus note”, there are many strange examples. The definition of “lotus” in perfume is mainly “flower fragrance-green fragrance-water fragrance”, and it is not bad to recommend flower and fruit fragrance, but what is going on in the category of oriental fragrance? What does this feel like, like when someone asks you to recommend a fresh dress, and then you point to a mink and say the button on it is green, so fresh, why don’t you try it…

So! It is very simple to master these nine fragrance types. As long as you smell the fragrance types that appear above, find a few representative fragrances and smell them, and you can remember them.

I don’t think there is a shortcut to this. If you smell it, you smell it. If you haven’t smelled it, you can’t imagine what the perfume is like, no matter how many words you read. It’s like eating hot pot, if you haven’t eaten it, you haven’t eaten it…

As mentioned above, we can divide perfumes into nine categories. If you can find one or two representative perfumes for each type and smell them, then you will be well on your way. This method of olfactory training is the same as the entry training for perfumers and perfumers! Smell memory is amazing, when you have accumulated a lot of perfume memory and then look back at the first few perfumes, you will find that you smell the details of the smell that you didn’t notice before!

Then, if you have spare money, you can buy all kinds of samples and pack them. If you have time, you can go to the counter to test it. If you have no money and no time, please read my article first, and then wait for the money…

Just kidding… If you have no money and no time, you just need to learn about the major categories that you are interested in. For example, if you are a lover of floral and fruity fragrances, you don’t need to spend too much time learning about oriental notes and the like. If you are a big man, you can leave it alone.

So I will list the fragrances that are easy to find at Sephora in the shopping mall as an example, so that you can properly rub the fragrance. The fragrances listed are examples only and do not mean that I like or recommend them. Another very simplified table!


Explain one by one.


① Citrus

It’s sour, it’s unbelievable!

Most of them are cheap, but the fragrance is not long, such as CK One, L’Occitane Lemon Verbena. Because of their fresh and natural characteristics, most citrus fragrances do not have strong gender characteristics, they are neither charming nor masculine, but they are elegant and straightforward.

② fruity aroma

Sweet and delicious youthful breath.

There are not too many single fruity fragrances, because a single fruity fragrance will not look high-end, and it is easy to reminiscent of household daily necessities such as shampoo. However, knowing the aroma of the fruit helps to understand the aroma of the flower. Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom and Honey has a distinct peach flavour and Anna Sui La Viede Boheme has a distinct sweet and sour cranberry flavour.

③Flower and fruity fragrance

It has both floral softness and fruity sweetness.

Floral and fruity fragrances appear very frequently in the current market, covering ladies fragrances ranging from girls to light ripe ones. There are tons of combinations, rose + lychee, white flower + pear, lily of the valley + apple, etc., or just a fuzzy and soft floral + a fuzzy and juicy fruity. Versace Bright Crystal, Lanvin rhythm, and Dior Real I all belong to the category of floral and fruity fragrances. Although the style is generally fresh, some floral and fruity fragrances add gourmet notes (such as vanilla) to make it sweeter and more delicious.

▌ Slightly rich:

① Suxinlan (Chypre chypre)

Layers of warmth.

advanced knowledge

Chypre perfume needs to conform to a specific structure. The traditional structure is that the first note needs to have bergamot + middle note needs to have floral (mostly rose) + tail note needs to have labdanum, oakmoss and patchouli, however, now this structure has been broken into pieces, Reorganized beyond recognition.

If you are interested, you can learn about the ins and outs of Chypre, the difference between classical Chypre and modern Chypre, why Chypre has evolved into what it is now, and what will Chypre become in the future. This is why many perfume lovers online say “chypre is dead”.

In my opinion, it is really a pity that there are very few classical Chypre fragrances on the market. First, because of the commercialization of perfumes, secondly because of changes in consumer preferences, and thirdly, it has a lot to do with the cost and limited use of raw materials. But the modern Chypre cannot be denied. After all, there are still many very good perfumes, which are beautiful and fashionable, and also meet the olfactory preferences of modern people. For example, Narciso Rodriguez for her, this fragrance is not listed in China, unfortunately.

For beginners, just go to the Chanel counter and smell Miss Coco and Chance. They belong to the modern chypre tone.

②Oriental incense

The oriental fragrance is known as “the mink coat of perfume”, which shows its warm and rich characteristics. The “East” here refers to the Middle East and India. Commonly used spices are vanilla, balsam, spice, powder, etc., reminiscent of the dark and mysterious Arabian girl.

The representative work of women’s fragrance is Guerlain’s Shalimar, and the new oriental fragrances include Gucchi Guilty for women and a flower of Kenzo; unisex fragrances include Hermes Orange Starlight; men’s fragrances include Burberry London, Paco Rabanne 1 Million, Chanel Allure men’s fragrance.

③ gourmet

As the name suggests, it’s vanilla cake candy chocolate or something. The founder of gourmet tunes is Thierry Mugler Angel. The gourmet tone is derived from the oriental tone, so some perfumes have both the characteristics of the oriental tone and the flavor of the gourmet tone, but in any case, both belong to the rich type.

The representative work Prada Candy. A new generation of Bond girls.

▌A step further can be fresh, a step back can be rich:

① Floral fragrance

Classic elegance and femininity.

The difference between floral and fruity aromas is very simple. The floral and fruity aromas add a fruity sweetness, so they appear more lively and youthful. And floral fragrance is the best choice to create an elegant and feminine flavor. From young girls to intellectual ladies to charming royal sisters, floral fragrances can all be held. The young girl is Marc Jacob Daisy, the elegant and simple is Jour d’Hermes, the medium concentration is Lancome Miracle or Kenzo Flower in the Air, and the rich can be the No.5 floral trio.

② Fu Qixiang

Classic masculinity.

Fudge is one of the most common types of men’s fragrances and men’s products on the market. Pick up a bottle of men’s aftershave, men’s cream, men’s facial cleanser, men’s body wash, and it’s very likely to be a Fougere scent. The richness can be YSL Kouros, the smell of a living smelly man. Freshness can be Davidoff cold water.

Fast and Furious Paul Walker endorsement, but unfortunately no one T_T.
advanced knowledge

Fuqixiang is also a “structural fragrance”. The traditional structure requires citrus and lavender in the first note, rose and geranium in the middle note, and oak moss and coumarin in the tail note. Fu Qixiang was originally designed to simulate the smell of “ferns”, so this traditional structure has both the freshness and lushness of ferns, and the moist and thick earthy feeling.

Similarly, now this structure has been broken and reinterpreted. For those with a fresh style, marine notes can be added to accentuate aromatic notes; for those who take the heavy route, animal fragrances and leather notes can be added.

But I don’t seem to have seen anyone sad that “Fu Qi is dead”…

③ Wood Fragrance

Solid wood flavor.

Have Some woods can create a warm woody feel (such as cedar), some can be as steady as a tree or as handsome as a smoking suit (such as vetiver), and some can bring a mysterious and distant atmosphere (such as agarwood, sandalwood).

Most of the woody women’s fragrances are strong, such as Chanel Coco Noir; men’s fragrances: strong can be Bvlgari BLV, medium can be Hermes earth, fresh can be Bleu deChanel; woody neutral fragrances include Hermes Voyage and Garden After Rain, both relatively fresh.