Scent Buying Guide

Updated: May 27, 2020

Did you ever decide to splurge and get yourself a new scent, but not know where to begin? Overwhelmed with all of the options when you go to the perfume counter? Here are my fool proof tips to selecting the perfect scent.

There are three major factors to consider. What is the type of fragrance that you like? What is the occasion? What is the budget?

Afterwards, we go from testing to the final decision. We’ve got your back so that you make an informed and wise decision, leaving no regrets.

The genre:

Much like music scent has genres, think rock 'n roll, country, classical, hip hop etc. and we are sometimes drawn to the same ones over and over again BUT depending on our mood or the occasion we'll switch it up and listen to something else.

Some days I love Mozart especially whilst working, but getting ready for a night out I need something upbeat and when I'm in a particular mood I'll tune it to something angsty like Eminem or Alannis Morissette

Well fragrances have their own genres too. Consider the genre of fragrances that you are already drawn to. Do you want to have something similar or different?

There are various genres of perfumes – oriental, chypre, fougère, gourmand, woody, floral and citrus

Here is a cheat-sheet to get you started:

Oriental scents are those such as the powerful Shalimar, Opium or Poison.

Chypre fragrances include Organza or Clinique Aromatics Elixir.

Fougères are typical masculine scents like and Dolce & Gabbana

Citrus fragrances such as Jo Malone’s Lime Basil and Mandarin.

Woody fragrances like Samsara and Terre de Hermès

Floral fragrances such as Estée Lauder’s Pleasures and Chanel No. 5

By sticking with your preferred genre, you will most likely find something different than your old standby, yet a fragrance that still pleases you. Or you may want to explore something new.

The occasion.

If you want to mix things up a bit, you can look beyond the type of fragrance that you like, and consider things such as the occasion you plan to use your new scent. Think about the season, for example. In this case, something citrus to go with summer, or a spicy scent to go with autumn. Even the climate plays a role. Some perfumes are very heavy. In the heat, fragrances will develop quicker than in colder temperatures or on colder skin.

Maybe you want a fragrance that is intended for your date night, for a prom, for a night out with the girls, for work, for your holidays For each occasion, there is a different possibility of fabulous fragrances to explore.

Preparing to shop.

A few suggestions: do not wear any fragrance, do not put any scented moisturizers on, do not use scented hair products. All odours will affect the impression of the scents that you are going to try. It is important to have your skin as neutral as possible, since you will eventually want to try the chosen fragrance on yourself so that you can test the effect that it creates with your body.

Some people recommend going to the shops in the morning so that your nose is fresh, avoiding olfactory fatigue. Go alone so that your opinion is truly your own, and is not swayed by your friends.

The budget.

Look at old and classical fragrances, not just the newest perfumes that happen to be à la mode. These classics have lasted the test of time for a reason! Packaging can be very attractive and seductive.

But just as you cannot judge a book by its cover, there are some very poor-quality perfumes that are sold in stunning boxes and bottles.

By contrast, some high-quality perfumes, such as Chanel No. 5, are in very simple packaging. If your budget is unlimited (lucky you!), then the sky is your limit. However, you should address any budget requirements with the sales assistant so they can best assist you. Otherwise you will be looking among options that are well beyond your reach.

First impressions.

When using fragrance strips, wait for the alcohol to evaporate, and experience the initial top notes of the perfume.

Continue to smell the strips over time until the top notes fade and the heart notes and base notes begin to emerge (at least an hour).

This wait time is important, since the base notes will be the scent that you will enjoy for the majority of time.

You could even write the name of the perfume on the strip and put each one in separate sandwich bags to smell again over the next few hours, since your initial impressions will change.

Be careful to not combine the strips together, or you will be smelling a blend of different perfumes! Do NOT purchase anything right then and there, as tough as it may be. It is important to allow the fragrances to develop, and for you to continue to judge how much you like each one.

Narrow it down.

Return to the shop after a few hours, once you have narrowed it down to two scents.

Try each of the top two, one on each wrist This is important so that you can see how they smell on your skin. The scent will be different than on the scent strip.

Thank the assistant, and walk away. Let your two perfumes settle on your skin and allow the base notes to emerge.

Make that purchase.

Once you have spent some time with the two top choices, you can return to the shop (the next day or hours later) and make your purchase. All of these tests will ensure that you have made the perfect decision and that you will be satisfied with your new perfume.

If your second pick was a real close one, write down the name and start dropping hints to your partner. Your birthday is bound to be coming up soon, right? This way you can enjoy the best of both worlds!

Lesson du jour: Take your perfume shopping seriously, armed with an open mind, information and time. Only then can you get the best investment for your money.


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