Perfume 101: Finding Your Perfect Scent
If you’ve never worn fragrance before, or haven’t updated your perfume selection in a while, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by your local perfume counter. Who wouldn’t be with all the “try me!” salespeople and spritzes of perfume coming at you from every corner of the beauty department? So we called in the big “nose” – Soulaimane Alaoui, an expert on all things scent at the perfumier to the Paris elite Serge Lutens. He walked us through the steps to find the perfect scent based on personality, body chemistry, and season.
Here’s the cheat sheet to finding your perfect perfume:
Devote time to finding the right fragrance
First, devote some time to the fragrance selection process. Says Alaoui, you don’t want to rush something you’re hopefully going to be wearing every day.
Consider your favorite scents
Find a perfume counter that carries multiple scents by several brands and locate someone who has the time to work with you. Think about what scents you’re most attracted to in general – don’t just stop at fruit and flowers, consider musk, smoke, cedar, spices, citrus, chocolate, berries, flowers, fresh cut wood, newly mown grass – even water. Make a short list and discuss it with the salesperson to see what he or she recommends.
Test scent on paper
Then, before you spray the scent anywhere on your skin, spritz it on paper. It’s the best way to smell the “base notes” (what goes into the perfume) as the alcohol (which is in all perfume) burns off. Give this process anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes so you can fully appreciate the perfume
Spray scent on your wrist
After you find a scent you like on paper, then you’re finally to spray it on your wrist (a pulse point).
Then you wait.
According to professional “nose” Alaoui, “Since everyone’s body chemistry is different, perfume needs a chance to interact with your skin…It takes a minimum of ½ hour to really smell a perfume.” So plan on taking a walk or doing an errand while the perfume settles in.
Try “living” with a perfume
Still not sure? Don’t rush it. Try “living” with a perfume for 6 hours or more and see if you like it. A scent, says Alaoui, should be part of you – if it doesn’t blend with your personality and body chemistry, it won’t feel or smell right when you wear it. When you try out a scent, ask ,“Is this the story I tell about myself?” adds Alaoui.
Wearing your new scent
Found your scent? Congratulations! Now here’s some hints on how to wear it: Dab on pulse points – behind your ears and at each wrist. Then try spraying inside your jacket. That way your new perfume won’t overwhelm when you walk into a room, but when you take off your coat, your signature scent will subtly fill the air.
Keep your perfume smelling fresh
Finally, the best way to keep your perfume smelling like the day you bought it is to keep it in a dark, cool spot with a consistent temperature – with care, a scent can last for 10 years; although you’ll probably use it up faster since you’ve found something you love.
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