As individuals, many of us have a signature scent that we have been wearing for years. This scent is often deeply intertwined with our past experiences and memories, evoking an emotional response when we inhale its aroma. We may feel as though this scent defines us, but how do we know if it is truly our perfect perfume?
When attempting to choose a new fragrance, we quickly discover that the task can be a complex one. With so many fragrances available on the market, it’s difficult to determine which aroma will compliment our unique body chemistry. Moreover, a fragrance that smells lovely on our best friend may not suit us at all due to our different biological makeup. Still, we stick to our tried and tested bottles of Lancome, ignoring the diversity in perfume offerings.
If you’re hoping to experiment with a new fragrance or maybe even drop a hint to your significant other regarding your Christmas present, our guide to discovering your scent profile will aid you on your quest to find your perfect perfume.
What is a Scent Profile?
Perfumes are categorized into four primary olfactory (smell) families:
- Floral – These sweet, feminine fragrances are amongst the most popular. Examples include jasmine, orange blossom, rose, neroli and lily.
- Amber – Also known as Oriental, Amber scents are warm, sensual and spicy fragrances. Popular examples of this kind include vanilla, cinnamon, myrrh, patchouli, and frankincense.
- Woody – Consisting of earthy and smoky scents, these fragrances tend to be favoured by men. Examples include pine, oud, vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood.
- Fresh – Fragrances that are inspired by the natural world, these scents are zingy, vibrant and possess a unisex appeal. Examples include bergamot, mandarin, green herbs, marine, and coconut.
The lesser-known category of fragrances, Fougère, is situated in the centre of the fragrance wheel (a scent categorization method developed by Michael Edwards in 1983) and contains fragrance elements from all four of the categories mentioned 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 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 prefer a sweeter, floral scent over a woody one. While it may require some trial and error, perfume counters exist so that you can try before you buy. Discovering your scent profile requires some guidance, which we’ll provide in the coming paragraphs. But first, let's analyze your current perfume.
It's worth analyzing that favourite perfume we mentioned at the beginning of this article because it could hold the secret to your scent profile. If there isn't a fragrance description on the bottle, some quick online research will reveal what aromas the perfume contains. This information will then guide you towards other perfumes you may like that come from the same (or a similar) fragrance family.
However, there’s one other element to consider when finding the perfect perfume...
The Different Layers of a Fragrance
Have you ever noticed that perfume can smell different when you first spray it on compared to how it smells a few hours later? This is due to the different layers (or notes) within the perfume, and it's another critical factor to consider when finding a perfume that works for you.
There are three different levels of perfume:
Top Notes - This is the fragrance note that you smell first and is often the scent that convinces us whether we should buy a perfume or not. However, it's a superficial scent as it hasn't yet fully reacted with the skin or fully displayed its true aroma. Top notes rely mostly on the stronger fruity, green, aromatic, and citrus scents to lure us in.
Middle Notes - This is the scent that you can smell after wearing perfume for about an hour. Also known as the heart notes, the middle notes are well-rounded and add depth to a fragrance. Scents utilized as middle notes include rose, geranium, neroli, and lavender.
Base Notes - This is the part of the perfume that lingers the longest and 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 understand more about fragrance families and the different notes of a fragrance, we’re better equipped with what to look for when hunting for our perfect perfume. The time has come to take our newfound 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 or woody fragrance is just a first step. To find your perfect perfume, you'll need much more than that.
Here are some essential tips that will aid you in discovering your perfect perfume:
- Take inspiration from other perfumes you love - survey the perfumes you currently wear and determine if they share similar fragrance notes. As we're naturally drawn to the scents we adore, the chances are high that they have comparable properties. Jot down some notes on what you like and take them along to the perfume counter as reference.
- Pulse points - the most optimal place to test perfume is on your inner wrists, which is a warm part of your body. This spot offers an accurate representation of what the perfume will smell like on you. However, you only have two wrists, leading us to the next point.
- Keep a record – As an alternative to spraying perfume on your wrists, you may spray it onto tester paper (usually stored beside the perfume testers on the perfume counter). To avoid mixing up the scents, note down the perfume name on the back of the paper.
- Don't test too many at once - After smelling approximately three different scents, your nose might become confused, making it challenging to differentiate one scent from another. Finding the perfect perfume is a process. I know you're anxious to find a new fragrance, but patience is key in determining which fragrance works best for you.
- Have patience – As I mentioned earlier, the true scent of perfume, the middle and top notes, emerge hours after you have applied it to your skin. You must give the perfume time to develop so that you can evaluate how it wears on your skin. Spray the perfume on your wrist, take note of its name, and then leave the store. Observe how it smells after an hour, a few hours, and then 24 hours later. If you still enjoy the scent after that period, you can return to the store to try out more perfumes or purchase a bottle of your newfound favourite.
- Consider the fragrance's purpose - Who says you can only have one bottle of perfume? Some perfumes are better suited to specific occasions than others. Create a perfume collection to have some flexibility in selecting the appropriate fragrance based on your mood, the event, or even the season. To help in this, try to analyze the various scenarios in which you might wear perfume and note down your fragrance expectations.
Choosing a new perfume isn't difficult, but it does require some effort and research. Not only will this save you money in the long term, but it will also ensure that you use a perfume that invokes specific emotions when you wear it and that you love. Our sense of smell is a powerful tool, and the perfume we wear can communicate so much about ourselves to others. With all the information shared above, we hope you're on your way to determining your scent profile so that you can find the perfect fragrance for you.