Choosing a Perfume
We’ve seen the power of scent to create a lasting memory, and how it affects more than the sense of smell. Wearing a perfume could add a ‘fourth’ dimension to an outfit, enhancing its visual appeal…A perfume could become your personal brand, it could be used to enhance your personality, inspire others, and cause a lasting impression…
But beware, the fragrance you choose could cause people to be attracted to you, or the contrary. Choosing a perfume is often the most difficult step in wearing fragrance, so choose wisely…
- Subtle and pleasant. Choose perfumes that enhance the space around you. The scent should be subtle enough to not invate anyone else’s “personal space”, but pleasant enough that others will want to stay around you.
- Complement your skin. Find a perfume that complements your skin and natural aroma of your body. In order to do this, you must try out the perfume on your skin.
- Narrow it down to 2-3. To narrow down what scents you like (floral notes, vanilla, citrus, herbal, etc.), in what blends, spray them on tester strips (fragrance blotters). You can only try 2-3 perfumes on your skin, so use a ‘process of elimination’ to find your top picks…If you can, get tester containers of the top picks so you can try it a few times outside the shop, see how you like them, and how people respond to you.
- Sample perfumes on your skin. Sample perfumes by spraying a couple of fragrances on your skin, located far apart from one another. Don’t spray more than 2 fragrances on each arm. Let the perfume stay on your skin for about half an hour, to see how it interacts with your skin. The fragrance should blend well with your normal body aroma, as well as with your deodorant, clothing detergent, shampoo, make-up, and whatever other scented product you may be using.
- Choose a perfume based on the base note – perfumes have three notes: the top note (initial fragrance that you smell upon spraying), heart or middle note (occurs after initial note evaporates); base note (what remains on your skin after the initial ½ hr)…The middle and base note are the main ‘theme’ of a perfume…
- Parfum or Eau de Toilette? Choose the concentration of perfume that will work for you. More oil content in the fragrance will make it last longer, but it will also be more expensive or heavier. In order of % of fragrant compounds, here are the various options: Cologne (7%), Eau de Toilette/Eau de Parfum (15-25%), and Perfume/Extrait (30-40%).
- Trademark fragrance? If you’re looking for a ‘trademark’ fragrance that you will always be wearing, choose a perfume that wears well in all temperatures, during winter as well as summer. You might want to have two different concentrations of the fragrance, a Parfum for evening, and Eau de Toilette for daytime.
- Heavy or light? If you change your perfume with your outfits, the general rule is heavier perfumes are for the evening, lighter notes for the daytime. For work or places that are enclosed, lighter fragrances are better, as too heavy a fragrance can be overwhelming, or inappropriate. However, if you prefer wearing heavier notes (like mosses, musk, chypre, and oriental notes), during the daytime, wear the lightest concentration of the perfume available.
And what is ‘heavy,” or “light”? Heavy fragrances are those in which the least-volatile ingredients, such as mosses, musk, chypre, and oriental notes dominate. Perfumes are between 30-40% fragrant oil, so the greater the concentration of fragrant compound, the heavier the fragrance. Light fragrances have mainly fresh, citrus, floral, fruity, and green components. They contain practically no sweet, balsamic, or sultry elements. Also, the more diluted the fragrant compounds, the lighter the perfume. This Perfume Glossary has a wealth of useful information on all perfume terms.
- Splash or spray application? A spray bottle, being sealed all the time, may have a longer shelf life, is easier to carry, and easier to apply. In the higher concentrations of perfume that have more oil content, a spray bottle becomes more inefficient, so a splash top might be better.
- Cheap or expensive perfume? A cheap perfume will have a few, readily available (more common) notes. A more expensive perfume will be more complex, and will have base, middle, and top notes, using rarer, more expensive ingredients. If unsure, stick with the more established designer labels: chances are, you will have a more sophisticated and complex product, than if you went for a cheaper perfume. Also, a lighter, more diluted version of the perfume (Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, or Cologne), is cheaper, if price is a factor.
And as always, remember that less is more…