With so many fragrances on the market, is there a surefire way to know how to pick a fragrance for yourself? The answer is no. But I have some tips to help you determine which fragrance will best suit you.
Truly and honestly, if you like a fragrance then buy it! Sometimes a scent is so special to you that you don’t care if it perfectly suits you. You just know you like it. And that is completely fine! These tips might help if you’re on the fence about a particular fragrance. Or if you’re shopping online! Knowing how to properly sample scents is the key to making it all make scents!
Understand What Fragrance Notes Are
Top notes are the first impression you get from a fragrance. It is the initial scent that comes from an oil or perfume. Top notes usually last for about 5-15 minutes. This is why it is so important to let a fragrance sit. The first scent you smell is only the beginning. If you are immediately turned off by a fragrance, don’t be alarmed. I’ve had many fragrances that I did not initially like, but later loved based on how the fragrance develops.
Common fragrance top notes: lemon, orange zest, bergamot, grapefruit, berries, clary sage, lavender, rose
Middle notes start to develop as the top notes fade. The middle notes are the most dominant of all the notes of a fragrance. These notes tend be more full bodied and hold the fragrance together. You will notice the scent of a middle note throughout the life of the fragrance (so make sure you like it!). Middle notes usually appear 20-60 minutes after application.
Common fragrance middle notes: jasmine, geranium, neroli, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, pine, lemongrass, black pepper, pink pepper, cardamom.
Base notes are the lasting impression that a fragrance gives. They are the scents that remain once the heart notes fade away. I call these my “memory notes” because they are the notes that bring back memories when I smell them. Base notes are scents that last the longest on the skin (so make sure you really really like it). Base notes tend to be very rich, heavy and long-lasting. They develop after about 30 minutes and combine with the middle notes.
Common fragrance base notes: vanilla, amber, musk, patchouli, moss, sandalwood, cedarwood
Oil-Based vs. Alcohol-Based
Oil-based fragrances have been coming increasingly popular. And I love that! I actually prefer oil over traditional alcohol-based perfumes. I have many reasons for that but here is a quick overview of oils vs. sprays:
Traditional Fragrance Spray
- Alcohol-based sometimes mixed with water
- Bigger packaging (alcohol makes the scent stretch)
- Strong scent — the alcohol helps the fragrance molecules evaporate around you
- Allows each note to fully develop
- Oil-based usually with a carrier oil such as coconut or almond
- Smaller packaging
- Subtle scent — the oil helps the fragrance stay close to you
- Last longer as it absorbs more into the skin
- Notes tend to run together
Remember each note of a fragrance is strategically designed. In order to fully let the fragrance develop, you don’t want to disturb the molecules. Rubbing your wrists together or rubbing the perfume into your skin disturbs the molecules. When sampling a scent you want to get the full experience. Just let the perfume sit and tell you it’s story lol don’t interrupt.
Take A Walk
Give the fragrance time to develop. This will especially work if you’re sampling fragrance in a mall or store. If you like a scent, try to spray the fragrance on one of your pulse points (the wrist works very well). Continue about your shopping experience and check the fragrance after about 20 minutes. By this time, the initial impression has faded and the middle notes should be developed/developing. Notice how strong the scent is and what fragrance notes you recognize. This will help determine how your body is reacting to the fragrance.
Bonus tip: Take a friend. Sometimes getting another opinion on a fragrance as it develops is very helpful. This will let you know how the scent translates to other people.
Did you learn something new? Let me know in the comments how you pick your signature fragrance!
Smell you later,