With hundreds of fragrances launched every year, the task of choosing the perfect scent can seem daunting for anyone, from the fragrance newbie to the studied nose. Here, we break down the basics of testing, buying and wearing fragrance to help your customers get the most out of their scent.
Before you reach for the bottle, narrow the fragrance field with these tips.
Divide and classify. Get to know the fragrance families to help make your scent choice. According to Celine Launay, international education deputy director for Giorgio Armani Parfums, there are six families for female fragrances (citrus, floral, floriental, chypre, woody and oriental) and five for male (citrus, fougère, chypre, woody and oriental). “It’s useful to determine whether someone prefers fresh fragrances, floral, more intense or oriental,” she says. If they have a tried-and-true fragrance, they may enjoy a scent from the same fragrance family.
Ask questions. Consider the big one: Why do you wear fragrance? “Most people have the objective of trying to represent themselves or to point out their personality,” says Launay. In this case, it can be helpful to ask whether they want to reveal a more natural side, in which they would gravitate to citrus or floral scents, or whether they want to show a more seductive side, where florientals might be more fitting. Is your customer shopping for a perfume for a special occasion? If so, determining whether the event is casual or more formal can help guide you in the right direction.
Get to know their tastes. Ask if your customer likes a certain type of flower (rose or lily, for example), or what types of food or wine they like, says Patty Cooper, LVMH fragrance brands national education manager. “Smell is closely associated with taste,” she says, and thus can be a key indicator of a person’s fragrance preferences.
Expert spritzing tips for finding that winning scent at the fragrance counter.
Try it on your skin. Testing a fragrance on a blotter card will help edit your selection, but to truly experience the fragrance, be sure to spritz the top contenders on your skin. “The blotter gives a one-dimensional take on the fragrance,” says Cooper. “It’s best to experience the scent on your skin, since your body chemistry will change it.” Apply the fragrance to pulse points, like your inner wrist and throat, as the different pH levels in our skin can make a fragrance smell completely different on one person to the next.
Avoid fragrance overload. After sniffing five different fragrances in a row, your sense of smell becomes “saturated,” says Launay. Give your nose a break by sniffing an area of your skin you haven’t sprayed before moving on to the next scent. “Smelling something familiar can normalize our sense of smell,” says Launay.
Give it time. The top notes of a fragrance are what lure us in, but it’s the base notes that last the longest. “Perfumers pay specific attention to the top notes of a fragrance, where the molecules are lighter, since they are the first notes you smell,” says Launay. The top notes last roughly 45 minutes on the skin, and while you may love the scent from the start, you may not love it five to six hours later, once the base notes have fully developed. Launay suggests trying the fragrance and letting it settle for two to three hours: “If you still like it, this fragrance is likely for you.”
Get the most mileage out of your perfume once you bring it home.
Apply to your pulse points. Spray one or two areas of the body’s pulse points – located at the inner wrist, behind the ear, inside of the arm, behind the knee and at the base of the throat – which radiate heat and help diffuse the fragrance. For the most staying power, Launay suggests applying perfume to slightly moisturized skin, which helps hold the fragrance longer. “The natural oils of your hair are also perfect for making a fragrance hold,” she says.
Less is more. How many spritzes you use is entirely up to you, but keep in mind that “as you get used to your fragrance, you may not be able to smell it as clearly on you as others can,” says Launay. The concentration of your fragrance can also impact how much you need to apply: Eau de Cologne is the lightest concentration, with two to five percent aromatic materials, followed by Eau de Toilette at eight to 12 percent, Eau de Parfum at 12 to 20 percent, and Parfum, which has a concentration of between 20 to 40 percent. Rule of thumb: The higher the concentration, the stronger the scent.
Don’t rub your wrists. It’s a gesture we all know well: rubbing our wrists together after applying perfume. But while you might think it helps disperse the scent, the act of rubbing actually damages the fragrance’s notes. “It crushes the olfactory pyramid of the fragrance, intermingling the molecules in the top, middle and base notes, and therefore ruins the development of the fragrance.”
Safe keeping. We all want to put our gorgeous perfume bottles on display, but when it comes to storing your fragrance, know your enemies: heat, light and air. Launay suggests keeping your fragrance in its original box and away from the sun, in a cool, dry place (read: far away from humid bathrooms and sun-drenched windowsills). If it’s stored properly, fragrance can last up to ten years, says Launay.
Prada Infusion D’Iris
This fresh-blossom fragrance, inspired by the search for the scent of the iris flower, combines lily of the valley, violet, heliotrope and cedarwood in a blend that calls fresh linen to mind.
Like a cool drink of water on a hot summer’s day, this aquatic floral scent blends refreshing notes of frosted mint and lotus flower, while pink pepper lends a sensual edge.
Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Summer
The exotic floral ylang-ylang combines with bursts of clementine, orange blossom, lily and jasmine in this fresh and light scent inspired by the tropics.
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau Fraiche
A lighter interpretation of Ford’s Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum, this body splash is infused with invigorating citrus, floral notes and a touch of warm amber.
Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gioia
Inspired by the Mediterranean sea, this aquatic scent hits you like a sea breeze, combining cool mint, warm brown sugar and Italian lemon, along with herbaceous labdanum.
Givenchy Ange ou Démon Le Secret
This luminous, fruity floral continues the tradition of the original Ange ou Démon, but adds fresh notes of green tea, Sambac jasmine and white peony into the mix.