How to Find the Perfect Scent for You
Sure, other beauty routines may fall by the wayside during quarantine, but social distancing may finally give us that chance to turn inwards and explore lesser-known parts of ourselves. Especially if you’re looking for a way to stimulate your by-now-likely-dulled senses (and assuming you have the time), taking your nose on an olfactory adventure may be just the thing to try.
Your signature scent will not only announce your arrival and forever be associated directly with you when we’re done with social distancing, but it also gives you another way to express yourself (just as your clothes or hairstyle do).
Here’s how to discover your perfect signature scent, with materials you likely already have at home.
Get in the right mindset and make it an experienceDon’t rush this process. Take your time and revel in the exploration of titillating your olfactory sense. Consider how wine, chocolate, or coffee connoisseurs sample and taste their chosen delicacies, by zeroing in on their nuances. This is the approach you want to take. It takes time to sharpen your sense of smell so it becomes discerning and sensitive. It’s true: you can train your nose and now might just be the time to try because here’s a little secret: having a signature scent is one of the 15 simple things stylish women do every day.
Follow Your NoseMake a list and explore the natural scents you already know you enjoy, be it in:
- Food (i.e. rosemary)
- A season (i.e. summer seasides)
- Linked to favourite memories (i.e. smoky cottage fire pit)
- Personality (i.e. fun and bubbly bestie)
- Lifestyle (i.e. active and strong)
- Occasion (consider several, such as first date, night out, everyday, special occasion, galantines, etc.) Mood (i.e. sultry and mysterious, sunny, cozy, etc.)
As with flavours, we tend to prefer the familiar when it comes to scent, so you will likely be drawn to what you already know. But take note, you may discover that your preferences change over time.
Your nose knows: You’ll never smell like your gal palThink of your ideal scent as a signature scent. This is for good reason, because this scent is like a fingerprint – unique to you. Each person’s body chemistry affects how scent changes once it blends with the skin. As the famous 19th century Parisian perfumer Pierre-Francois Gerlain famously said, “you are the last note of the perfume.”
Factors such as your skin pH (acidity), stage of life and even hormones transform the fragrance, changing it into something unique and something personal to you. This is why the same perfume won’t smell the same on you as it smells on your pal.
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Your nose knows: The scent you smell isn’t the same scent someone else smellsEven with all things being equal (i.e. such as you and your roomie sniffing the same bottle of perfume), the smell you smell will smell different to someone else. This is because over time, your nose has been sensitized to certain notes more than others, and the opposite may be true of your roomie. So while you may pick up more citrus in a scent, your friend may zero in on other notes, such as vanilla.
So, not only might your preference evolve from the one-note sweet mists you gravitated to as a teenager, your more nuanced “nasal palette” might simultaneously prefer more complex, nuanced fragrances.
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Understand how scents work: Eau de parfum vs. eau de toiletThe key differences between eau de parfum (EDP) and eau de toilet (EDT) is the level of concentration of fragrance oil. This affects a scent’s strength and sillage (how much scent lingers in the air).
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Understand how scents work: It’s about the layersSimilarly, scents are layered and are delivered in a spray bottle, oil, roller ball or bottle for dabbing, or as a body mist.
EDP tends to have deeper, subtler, longer-lasting layers that unfold over a longer period of time, whereas EDT has greater alcohol content and has a stronger initial scent, which diffuses wider and faster over time. You can think of it this way:
You’d spray EDT on your clothes for everyone to smell, while EDP you’d apply to yourself for intimate contact.
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Understand how scents work: Scent profilesScents are typically divided into common scent profiles. These include:
Herbal (i.e. Gucci Memoire, $92)
Fresh (i.e. Bottega Veneta Illusione EDP For Her, $145)
Floral (i.e. Gucci Guilty Love Edition Pour Femme)
Fruity (i.e. Burberry Her Intense, $168)
Woody (i.e. Chloé L’eau, Escada Flor del Sol, $92)
Spicy (i.e. CK Eternity Summer for Women, $65)
Musky (i.e. Narciso Rodriguez Pure Musc for Her, $120)
Citrusy (i.e. Tiffany & Love EDP for Her, $115)
Aquatic (i.e. Calvin Klein CK Everyone, $95)
Most fragrances include a combination of notes.
Understand how scents work: What you’re paying forMore expensive fragrances typically consist of greater concentrations of higher end ingredients such as fragrance oil.
There are also natural as well as synthetic fragrances. Note that natural is not necessarily more sustainable, as it can take many tonnes of blossoms to produce a single kilogram of fragrance oil.
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The best way NOT to sample scentsSimply spritzing and sniffing the fragrance in the misty air won’t do it. Similarly, don’t spritz your arms and rub the spot. This breaks down the nuanced aromas that make up the fragrance.
Instead, do the following...
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The best way to sample scents: Round up your testers, samples and the restThis is the part where you may want to round up any freebies, gifts, or samples to test out from home. If you are sensitive to perfumes and colognes, you can also try natural scents and oils, such as vanilla bean, rosemary, etc.
During non-quarantine times, you could request samples from department stores. Another pro-tip: Sephora will prep samples of their collections upon request if they don’t have the specific sample you’re interested in.
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The best way to sample scents: A clean palateThe ideal way to sample scent is early in the morning when your nose is sensitive, and hasn’t yet had the chance to be inundated with various aromas. Choose no more than 2-3 scents at a time to play around with, and begin with the lightest scent first, if possible.
Some perfumers also suggest breaking up and “cleansing your nasal palate” in-between smelling each scent. While some swear by coffee or another strong scent, the best way to do this is to actually go for something neutral, or subtle and familiar (such as the inside of your shirt). You want to give your nose the chance to reset before bringing it to a new scent.
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The best way to sample scents: X marks the spotSpritz or dab each fragrance on the inside of either arm (pick the crook of an elbow, or another part that you won’t wash frequently), and leave it. The scent will transform throughout the day, so you don’t want to choose your signature scent in a rush. Ideally, you want to allow the fragrance to aerate 4 hours or more, but no less than 15 minutes to really give it a fair shot.
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The best way to sample scents: Keep revisitingKeep going back to your two-three scents throughout the day, and see which you like more each time. Note also how each changes over time. If you need to, repeat this process over a few days, with different aromas.
You may also want to spray it in your hair, as your hair is a great diffuser (though not good for your hair in the long-run, if there’s any alcohol content).
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Look for scents with similar profilesOnce you’ve established what you like, use an online tool such as Fragrantica to see what other fragrances have similar profiles.
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Switch it up sometimesLastly, even if you’ve zeroed in on something you love, remember to switch it up sometimes, particularly seasonally. Warmer spring and summer months typically work best with lighter, fresher scents, while fall and winter tend to bring out the best of deeper, muskier notes.
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