A fragrance develops from the moment it hits your skin. First, the alcohol carrying the perfume oils burns off, which is why you should ideally wait a few minutes before assessing a new fragrance. Next, you’ll be treated to the scent’s top notes, which are typically fleeting light florals and citrus.
After 15 minutes or so, you’ll experience the heart notes, which provide the main character of the scent. Depending on the fragrance, the anchoring base notes — usually heavier components like resins and woods — will linger for hours and sometimes even a day later.
Having said that, some fragrances are deliberately constructed to be linear, with no discernible difference between beginning, middle and end. In those cases, it’s just a lovely fade to finish.