Understanding Fragrance: Top, Middle and Bottom Notes

Understanding Fragrance: Top, Middle and Bottom Notes

October 11, 2017

All fragrances are more symphony than solo. Whether we’re talking about the smell of a flower in a garden – where the smells of other blooms, the outside air, dirt, and grass play upon one another at once – or the scents in a home fragrance diffuser like Aera, the full experience of a fragrance emerges from the interplay of different notes combined.

Both quality perfumes and Aera’s carefully designed signature home fragrances are built by layering top, middle, and bottom notes, each corresponding to a different part of the scent experience but dispersing simultaneously. Fragrance designer Raymond Matts conceptualizes his creations as "olfactive journeys that take the senses through layers balanced to provide a unique experience and lasting impression." And that's the key effect of top, middle, and bottom notes: they permit scents to come across as fluid, evolving, and captivating; working together rather than merely static and straightforward. 

But what are these vital building blocks to fine fragrance?


Top notes are the smells you register the moment you encounter a new fragrance. These tend to be light, crisp and refreshing, like bergamot, citrus, or morning dew. The top notes inform a person’s first impression of a fragrance. With perfume, these are the notes that fade most quickly due to their relative volatility.

Jasmine Middle Notes

The middle notes in a fragrance, meanwhile, are what Raymond calls the "heart of a scent." These are usually floral notes, often derived from classic sources such as jasmine, tuberose, or lily of the valley. In addition, Aera utilizes technology that captures the flower's scent as it exists in nature - a different impression than the oils obtained from flower petals. These components are often complimented by 'green' notes or accents of fruitiness.

Vanilla Bottom Notes Fragrance

The background of a fragrance is comprised of its deeper, longer-lasting bottom notes. Bottom notes tend to be heavier and fuller, like sandalwood, vanilla, leather, spice, or amber. These are the notes that seem to linger in a room after a well-perfumed person walks through.

Until recently, technological restrictions on home fragrance methods made this interplay of top, medium and bottom notes impossible. Candles, plug-ins, and other more traditional home scenting methods generally capture a single scent or a massively simplified version of the immersive layering sought by perfumers. According to Raymond Matts, Aera's technology alone "allows a continuous flow of scent comprised of notes of different volatilities," ensuring that "you will always experience... a fragrance working in harmony." Inhale deeply, and see what top, middle, and bottom notes you can uncover from Aera's signature scents!

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