It has been said that you’re never fully dressed without perfume. But choosing the final touch to your outfit is a difficult task.
There are so many fragrances on the market today from big-name brands like Dior and Chanel to unique niche fragrances such as Penhaligon’s. Narrowing down your options can seem like a completely overwhelming task.
Luckily for you, we’re here to help! We have some tips and tricks that can help you find your perfect perfume.
- Understand the Terms
The fragrance world is full of words and phrases that can seem confusing and intimidating at first glance. However, being able to understand the fragrant language will allow you to understand the perfume itself.
The first thing you’ll need to get to grips with is the notes. In perfumery, notes refer to the different levels of scent that you smell. In a way, they are comparable with music notes. Individually they’re nice enough but when put together they create a symphony.
There are three different notes to a perfume.
The top note is also sometimes called the head note. This will be the strongest scent immediately after you spray. The top notes don’t last very long. They linger for about 15 minutes to an hour before giving out to the mid notes.
Top notes are the salespeople of the perfume. They are the first impression we get of a scent and are usually quite fresh or sharp. They need to be attention-grabbing and pleasant.
Mid notes are also sometimes called heart notes. These notes make up the main body of the scent. Often these smells are more mellow and rounded. They provide a bit more substance to the fragrance.
Mid notes last for an hour or two depending on the strength of the fragrance. They overlap slightly with the base notes. This helps to mask the base notes initially.
Base notes are the longest lasting of all the notes. They are heavier, richer smells that linger for hours after application.
Base notes can, initially, be quite off-putting which is why the mid notes tend to bleed into the base notes until they mellow.
Typical base notes include musk and woody smells.
The other terminology you’ll come across is contained in the fragrance wheel. The fragrance wheel was developed to help stores and perfumers describe the scent to us laymen.
Although the wheel has had a few iterations, it currently has 4 quarters that are further divided into more specific scents.
The quarters and their subsections are:
- Soft Floral
- Oriental Floral
- Soft Oriental
- Woody Oriental
- Mossy Woods
- Dry Woods
In general, fresh scents tend to be used for top notes. Florals and orientals for mid notes and woody scents for base notes.
- Think About Your Personality
There are lots of different quizzes and tests out there that claim to be able to match a perfume to your personality.
The science is scant at best but there is a lot of psychological reasoning behind perfume and personality. It’s not a mystical connection. Instead, it’s to do with the association we have with particular smells.
Florals have long been seen as a feminine smell and woody smells as masculine. Musks tend to be associated with driven, powerful people.
Those associations are not set in stone. The rise of unisex fragrances shows us that as society changes its perceptions and priorities, so too do our fragrance associations.
More important than matching a scent to some mystical personality type is matching your perfume to your ideals.
Many brands are diversifying into ethical and responsible fragrances. These tend to use responsibly sourced ingredients, ethical farming or growing techniques, and non-animal testers.
Vegan fragrances are also becoming increasingly common. These will be cruelty-free and void of any animal-based ingredients including beeswax and honey.
When choosing a perfumes based on your personal ideals, you might want to consider brands that make donations or contributions to charities when you purchase. You might as well do some good while you smell good!
- Choose the Right Strength
Not all perfumes are created equal. In fact, not all perfumes are even, strictly speaking, perfumes.
You’ve probably come across terms like Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum, but do you really understand the difference?
Ultimately, the difference is in the concentration of the perfume oil. This determines how long-lasting the fragrance is.
There are 5 different strengths.
- Eau Fraiche – Has an oil content of about 1-3% and lasts about an hour.
- Eau de Cologne – Has an oil content of about 2-5% and lasts about 2 hours.
- Eau de Toilette – Has an oil content of 4-15% and lasts between 3-4 hours.
- Eau de Parfum – Has an oil content of 15-20% and lasts between 4-5 hours.
- Perfume – Has an oil content of 20-40% and can last up to 24 hours.
When you’re choosing a perfume you’ll want to think about how long you need it to last. You’ll also need to balance that with the cost. The stronger the fragrance the more expensive it is.
Every day fragrances that you wear to work should probably be Eau de Toilette. They last fairly long but they won’t tank your bank account.
- Leave the Store
Perfume stores are an assault on the senses. All those bright lights, beautiful models, and the heady mix of smells can really get to you.
More importantly, they can cloud your olfactory receptors. How on earth are you supposed to decide which perfume you like when dozens of different smells are clogging the air?
Don’t be tempted or pressurized to buy a perfume just because you’ve gone into the store or because you’ve spritzed it on yourself.
The best way to choose your perfume is to spray a couple of samples onto those little smelling sticks and take them outside.
Out in the fresh air, your nose can reset and get a better sense of the fragrance. This also lets you experience the fragrance in real life.
Fragrances interact differently with different environments. You might think a scent is super overpowering in the store but outside you might realize that it’s a lot more chill.
If you have the time, try to live with the scent for a while. Take those sticks with you as you go about your business. Smell them throughout the day to get a sense of the mid and base notes.
Perfumes can get expensive. There are no two ways about it. You can mitigate the cost by making some smart choices.
Firstly, if you like a designer fragrance, check whether they have it in an Eau Fraîche or Eau de Cologne. These are cheaper than Eau de Parfums and won’t last as long but they smell the same.
Secondly, if you wear perfume every day to work or wherever, don’t drop hundreds of dollars on it. Unless you have lots of disposable income, you’ll never be able to keep paying for it every month.
Everyday perfume can be a bit cheaper because you’re not necessarily trying to stand out. Most of the time we become a bit nose blind to the perfume we wear every day so what’s the point of spending hundreds on it?
Another way to lower the price of your perfume is to buy the accompanying body lotions or washes. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but these sets tend to be cheaper than the perfume itself but have the same or similar fragrance.
If you wash with the scented body wash and apply the lotion later, you won’t need as much perfume to give yourself that scent. It’s already on your body.
Perfume is an intensely personal choice. It comes down to the smells we like, the image we are trying to portray and the ideals we want to uphold.
Perfume is a memory maker and a memory trigger. It can bring to mind all the wonderful things that make us happy, comfortable, and powerful. We all deserve that.