Top, Middle & Base - what’s your scent?

Scent is everything to us here at OSA - but which of our Summer 2018 scents do you think would best suit you? 

Firstly, let’s look at the language of scent. Scents are generally made up of three distinct notes - top, middle and base - the fragrance industry’s way of saying ‘individual smells’. Combine these notes and you have a completely unique aroma.

Summer Meadow - if only we could bottle this!

Each note can typically grow stronger and more noticeable at different points in time as your brain processes the scent. Notes can be differentiated based on volatility, which measures how quickly the compounds from the scent evaporate. The more volatile a note, the more quickly you’ll smell it, but the faster it will evade your olfactory system. On the flipside, less volatile scents take more time to come through, but they tend to linger for a while longer. 

Top Notes - they tend to have higher volatility measurements. Their impact is immediate, but they have less staying power. Think of top notes as a brief first impression. They are typically described as fresh or sharp and can smell like citrus (think, orange zest), light fruits (grapefruit) or herbs (basil).

Middle Notes - rather like doh-ray-me, middle notes follow the top notes and are often referred to as the ‘heart’ of the scent. They fully develop once the top notes have evaporated and tend to be slightly stronger. Since base notes can sometimes be overwhelming at first (more on this in a minute), middle notes are also there to mask that initial strength of the smell. Think of rose and jasmine as common middle notes, as you’ll notice their scent tends to stay with you, and pairs beautifully with a deeper base note, like vanilla.

Base Notes - once the middle notes begin to drift away, the base notes begin to play a more prominent role in the scent. They are the strongest and longest lasting due to their low volatility. The base notes add depth to a scent. Rich and heavy scents like vetiver, vanilla, cedarwood and oud are common base notes. Base notes should not only last longer than the first two in the overall scent profile, but they should help fully round out the scent — combining all the notes pleasantly and complementary. Like most things in life, the key to a pleasing blend of base, middle and top notes is balance.


At a very high level, scents fall into categories of scent families and while the descriptions below are by no means extensive of exhaustive, they do go some way to help describe scents without your actually being able to smell them ... I wonder when the Smello Blog will be available?!

Anyway, here’s a brief overview of the key scent families:

Aromatic - think lavender, rosemary, sage. Intensely herbal, mildly spicy and lightly sweet. Often combined with citrus. 

Bright and Fresh - pleasant and tart, citrus scents are typically top notes like bergamot, lime, orange zest and lemon.

Exotic - warm, rich and a little spicy. Ylang ylang is a classic exotic floral — slightly sweet, slightly floral and pleasantly strong.

Delicate Floral - exactly what it sounds like. Roses, geraniums, jasmine — all soft florals. This family is fresh, it’s effervescent and it smells like a bed of flower petals with a dusting of powder.

Sweet - also known as gourmande. Decadent and deliciously sweet scents that smell as good as they would taste. Typically contain an edible element.

Earthy and Woody - warm, mysterious, sharp, resinous. Think deep base notes like vetiver, cedarwood and sandalwood.


Hopefully our ‘Fragrance 101’ has helped prepare you for deciding which OSA scent is for you this Summer:

Summer Picnic - powerful citrus aroma, bursting with a crisp, lemon and grassy scent. Very popular with the campers!

Moroccan Morning - our ‘floriental’ scent, it has top notes of cut green stems and Mandarin tea, supported by Moroccan spices and a floral heart of orange blossom, lily, muguet and jasmine on a substantial base of vanilla, sandal, patchouli and musk. Very popular with the gentlemen!

Paris Boudoir - with a confident rose mid-note, this fragrance is rich and textural, wrapped with smoky oud wood. Spiked with clove, decadent with praline. Very popular with the ladies and the gents too!

Lavender Azure - the fresh lavender top notes in this scent are divine, making it a soothing and relaxing blend reminiscent of a day at the spa.

Vanilla Velvet - a rich creamy scent with top notes of rich Madagascan vanilla pods, whipped to a buttery frenzy with a hint of nutmeg. A heart of warm heady florals leading a sensual trail to a base of crushed nuts, warm woods and soft velvety musks. So much more than just a regular vanilla candle!

So, which scent are you? Let us know!

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