Many of us have a go-to favourite perfume. One we’ve been wearing for years. One that evokes a sensory collection of memories and moments in our lives. The familiar scent that seems to capture the very essence of who we are. And whilst we clearly love it, after all we wouldn’t have worn it for so long if we didn’t, how do we really know that it’s our perfect perfume?
Choosing a new perfume can be a tricky task, especially when you don’t really know what suits your body chemistry. You see, different scents smell differently on different people. So, a perfume that smells absolutely incredible on your best mate, might not be anywhere near as nice on you. And then of course there’s the fact that there are so many different perfumes out there, all with their own luxuriant packaging and glamourous ad campaigns, it’s no wonder we’re sticking to our tried and tested bottle of lancome.
If you’re considering trying a new bottle of perfume, or perhaps you’re looking to drop a few hints to the hubby before he makes a last minute dash for your Christmas present, have a read of our guide to help you discover your scent profile in the quest to find your perfect perfume.
What Is A Scent Profile?
Fragrances are split into four main olfactory (smell) families:
- Floral – One of the most popular scents, floral fragrances tend to be light, sweet, and feminine. Examples include: jasmine, orange blossom, rose, neroli, and lily.
- Amber – Also known as Oriental, Amber scents are exotic, warm, spicy, and sensual. Examples include: vanilla, cinnamon, myrrh, patchouli, and frankincense.
- Woody – These scents are often favoured by men, as they are quite earthy and smoky in nature. Examples include: pine, oud, vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood.
- Fresh – Fresh scents have a unisex appeal. They are fresh, zingy, vibrant and take inspiration from the natural world. Examples include: bergamot, mandarin, green herbs, marine, and coconut.
There is also a lesser known category called Fougère, which sits in the centre of the fragrance wheel (a scent classification method created in 1983 by Michael Edwards) and contains fragrance elements from all 4 of the categories above. Because of this, Fougère scents are incredibly versatile and appeal to both men and women.
Your scent profile is made up of the scents that appeal to you the most. They are not in any way limiting, so it’s perfectly normal to like more than one. However, you will discover that there are some categories that appeal to you more than others. For example, I much prefer a sweeter more floral scent over one that is woody. It may require some trial and error, but that is precisely why perfume counters exist, for you to try before you buy. I’ve got some more tips to share with you on this in a moment, but for now let’s get back to discovering your scent profile.
It’s worth taking a look at that favourite perfume we mentioned at the beginning of this article, because that could hold the secret of your scent profile. If it doesn’t have a fragrance description on the bottle, some quick online research will tell you what aromas are held within. This will help guide you towards other perfumes you may like, that are from the same or a similar fragrance family.
But there’s one other thing we need to take into account when looking for a perfect perfume…
The Different Layers Of A Fragrance
Have you ever noticed that when you wear perfume it can smell very different when you first spray it on compared to how it smells a few hours later? This is all to do with the different layers (or notes) of the perfume and this is another important factor when it comes to figuring out a perfume that works for you.
There are three different levels to a perfume:
Top notes – This is the scent we smell first and is often the smell that convinces us whether to buy or not. It is a somewhat superficial scent however, as it hasn’t had time to react with the skin or to warm up and display its true aroma. Top notes are used as a means to lure us in, so they usually rely on the stronger fruity, green, aromatic, and citrus scents.
Middle notes – This is the scent that you can smell after wearing the perfume for about an hour. Also known as the heart notes, the middle notes are well rounded and add depth to a fragrance. Common scents used as middle notes include: rose, geranium, neroli and lavender.
Base notes – This is the part of the perfume that lingers the longest, where your true signature scent lies. Base notes are intense and are composed of heavier molecules than the top and middle notes. Examples of common base notes are vanilla, musk, amber, and cedarwood.
Now that we’ve learnt a bit more about scent families and the different notes of a fragrance we’re all a bit more clued up on what to look out for on the hunt for our perfect perfume. It’s now time to take this knowledge to the perfume counter and start trying out some different scents.
How Can You Find The Right Perfume For You?
Knowing whether you prefer a floral fragrance over a woody one is certainly a step in the right direction, but you’re going to need more than that if you want to find your perfect perfume.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Take inspiration from other perfumes you love – Take a look at the perfumes you currently wear and see if they have similar fragrance notes. The chances are they do, as we are naturally drawn to the scents we love, so jot down some notes and take them with you to the perfume counter as inspiration.
- Pulse points – The best place to test perfume on yourself is the pulse point of your wrists. This is a warmer part of your body, so you’ll get a much better representation of what the perfume actually smells like on you. The problem with this of course is that you only have two wrists, which leads us on to our next point.
- Keep a record – As an alternative to testing perfume on your wrists you can also spray it onto tester paper (these are often stored alongside the perfume testers on the perfume counter). To make sure you don’t get confused over which scent is which, it is a good idea to jot down the name of the perfume on the back of the paper.
- Don’t test too many at once – Once you’ve smelt roughly 3 different scents your nose can start to become confused and it becomes difficult to distinguish one from another. Perfume selection is a process. I know you’re keen to get a new fragrance, but in order to find the perfect perfume you must be patient. Talking of which…
- Have patience – As I’ve mentioned before, the true scent of a perfume, the middle and top notes, emerge hours after you have applied the perfume to your skin. You need to give the perfume time to develop so that you can discover how it wears on your skin. Spray the perfume onto your wrist, make a note of the name of the perfume, and then leave the shop. Take note of how it smells after an hour, a few hours and then 24 hours later. If you still like the scent after this time period, you can then go back to the shop and either try out some more, or if you think you’ve found your perfect perfume you can then buy yourself a bottle.
- Think about the purpose of the perfume – Who says you only need to have one bottle of perfume? After all, some perfumes are much more suited to certain occasions than others. Create a wardrobe of fragrances to give you flexibility to choose one based on your mood, the occasion, or even the season. To help you do this, try to think of the different scenarios that you would wear perfume and note down what you would like from a fragrance.
Choosing a new perfume needn’t be a difficult task, but it does require some effort and a little bit of research beforehand. Not only will this save you money in the long term, but it will also ensure you use a perfume that you love and that evokes certain emotions when you wear it. Our sense of smell is a powerful thing and the perfume we wear can say so much about ourselves to others. Hopefully this article will help you on your way to working out your scent profile so that you can then discover the perfect perfume for you.