Is it just us, or is choosing a new fragrance as exhausting as jean shopping? Yep, perfume picking can be a toughie. Do you go fruity and upbeat? Musky and mysterious? Clean and simple for daytime wear? Or an evening scent that won’t be outshined by your head-turning outfit?
Oh, and then there’s the whole matching a perfume to your personality thing (hence the term “signature scent”). So how does one even go about finding her perfect perfume scent? We’ve covered all the bases (or in this case “notes”) and summed up the key components for picking a scent that’s so you.
Here are a few easy, no-nonsense tips when it comes to selecting a signature fragrance:
Know Your Scents
Perfumers typically categorize fragrances into four major scent groups, which include:
- Floral ~ think flowers and fruits. Florals can range from a single flower to a bouquet of floral notes married with fruity elements such as pears, berries, and apples.
- Fresh ~ think citrus and green. Fresh notes include a wide variety of scents including citrus notes such as lemon, orange and evergreen notes like pine and fresh-cut grass.
- Oriental ~ think spices, vanilla, and patchouli. Oriental notes are known for their rich, sensual elements and are often referred to as “musky” in regards to their scent profile.
- Wood ~ think sandalwood, cedar, and moss. Wood fragrances incorporate hints of tobacco, bark, and leather, and give off an “earthy essence."
The real magic happens when perfume makers combine various notes of these four groups (such as an oriental-wood blend of vanilla and sandalwood, or a fresh-floral combo of citrus and berry notes).
Now that you’re versed in the major fragrance categories, let’s move on to developing an understanding of a fragrance’s notes.
The perfume you pick will likely have multiple “notes”, which creates perfume’s “scent layers”. The tricky part is that these can change over time, so what you spray on your wrist and smell at the beauty counter will likely be different than the scent you take in at home (but more on that later). Here’s a quick guide to understanding notes:
- Top notes ~ this is the predominant scent that hits you upon first smell.
- Middle notes ~ as indicated by the name, after the top note evaporates, this note will emerge and become the main note.
- Base notes ~ while these notes can be richer than the top and middle notes, base notes are super subtle and won’t come through until half an hour or so later. The base note usually “backs up” the middle note providing a balanced, blended perfume.
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So what’s the magic trifecta to picking your perfect perfume? Follow these three rules to avoid fragrance failure:
1) “POP”: Consider these three components when picking a scent: personality, occasion, and place (or POP). Picking notes that match your “personality” are key (in other words, if you detest orange or lemon, steer clear of perfumes with heavy citrus notes). Also, consider the “occasion” (are you looking for a clean and simple type perfume or a come hither perfume?) Finally, the “place” (your day-to-day office perfume will likely contain very different notes than your inner-diva fragrance).
2) Give it a full test-drive before buying it: As mentioned above, the notes change after the initial application, so apply the perfume you’re considering liberally and go grab a Starbucks (or that pair of shoes you’ve been stalking) before buying the perfume. This will help ensure you nab the scent profile you’re looking for.
3) The BFF test: We’ve all done it. Bought a perfume we thought was awesome only to decide later it wasn’t so awesome after all. To avoid this, ask your best gal pals what they think. They’ll honestly tell you if it’s too strong, isn’t balanced enough, or perfectly lovely.
Now you’re ready for when Cupid takes aim this Valentine’s holiday, perfume mavens! Happy
Do you have a signature scent?
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