To begin with, every fragrance has head, heart or base notes, and you must have come across these terms while shopping. Here’s what they mean.

Head notes are smaller, lighter molecules designed to dazzle. They form the initial impression of a fragrance, drawing us in usually, fresh citrus or green notes such as lemon, lime, neroli, bergamot and fresher herbaceous notes like lavender, thyme & basil.

Heart notes are molecules that are more rounded and mature, taking anywhere from five minutes to an hour to develop. They include notes such as flowers, spices, woods, resins and grasses.

Base notes are the heaviest, fattest molecules. They lend solidity, depth and resonance to fragrance. They evaporate more slowly, generally appearing 30 minutes after application. They include the scents of woods, resins, oakmoss, vanilla, amber and musks.

On top of the notes that go into a fragrance, there are four different strengths, or gradations, that effect how intense the aroma is. These tend to increase in price as with strength, correlating to the percentage of essential oils in each formula.

Eau de Cologne has a weaker concentration of between 2-5% perfume oils. This configuration means the head notes in these fragrances will be the most prominent, and the scents themselves will last only a few hours.

Eau de toilette is said to contain around 5-10% essential oils, and can be reapplied throughout the day without the overwhelming sensation of smelling like a perfume store.

Eau de parfum contains 10-15% essential oils and can last five or more hours at a time on one application. Heart notes flourish here, as the scent has a greater longevity, allowing the head notes to dissipate and reveal a more complex undercurrent. It is typically the strongest gradation you are likely to find at a conventional fragrance counter.

Perfume is the finest, most expensive and strongest formulation available, with essential oil content ranging anywhere from 25-40%. It has a significant depth of scent, can last a full day on one application and allows the wearer to experience all three levels of fragrance. This was a product originally created for and marketed to women, yet nowadays many brands are creating true perfumes designed explicitly for men.