The Perfume Handbook: How to Find you Signature Scent

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Shopping for perfume can be quite frustrating but finding a signature scent doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. To find out how to choose a signature scent that works for both your personal scent preference and body’s chemistry, we put together a guide on how to find your signature scent.

Smell Everything

An important step in finding your signature scent is to smell everything, especially if you don’t really have an idea of what you like. The more perfumes you smell, the more drawn you will be to certain styles. Let your sense of smell be as curious as possible!

It is advised to try out only three scents at a time. Trying a perfume is a unique experience, try not to overwhelm your olfactory bulb at one go… Give each fragrance its own proper shot!

Carry the smells you love in mind: Smells, memories & emotions

It’s fascinating how certain scents can instantly evoke memories you’d completely forgotten about. The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example. This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience.

In addition to being the sense most closely linked to memory, smell is also highly emotive. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions and feelings; from desire to power, vitality to relaxation.

Don’t worry about harmful ingredients

Believe it or not, when it comes to harmful ingredients, perfume is the one beauty product you don’t have to worry about. In fact, there is a special regulatory agency called the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) that intentionally monitors just this kind of thing, and also makes it hard on perfumers to come up with alternatives to natural ingredients like oak moss, musk, etc.

Temperature effects scent

One thing to keep in mind while shopping for (and wearing) a signature scent? Temperature matters. The warmer it is, the faster your scent evaporates and the stronger it may smell. The heat from your pulse and skin surface will agitate the aroma chemicals a lot faster into scented motion than a blast of cold winter air will.

Try to understand what you are smelling

Today it is possible to choose between thousands of different fragrances. To differentiate all these fragrances, several methods exist to classify the perfumes in different groups. The most used classification is the one of the French society of perfume creators, Société Française des Parfumeurs. The Society distinguishes seven groups:

Fragrance genealogy is the company’s way of describing the primary notes of a fragrance. Fragrance genealogy is similar to a family tree in that it helps characterize fragrance notes, descriptors and chemicals. The seven olfactory fragrance families classify nearly 90% of all fragrances.

The order of notes matters

The order of perfume notes -aka, the Perfume Pyramid– isn’t as confusing as it may seem. The Perfume Pyramid idea is how these lightest, lighter and heavy notes all blend together to create a perfume that’s more than the sum of its parts. Speaking of notes, take a look at how you can use the base, middle, and top notes to find your signature scent.

Understanding fragrances as living organisms and how they evolve over time is key in choosing your signature scent. Explore and pay attention how its scent evolves on your body with time and the way and time you want ro apply during your daily activity or special occassion. 

Understand why some fragrances cost €50 and some cost €500

Cheaper fragrances tend to have top notes that are initially very, very strong. More expensive fragrances have the complexity of a heart and dry down, and also tend to have longer-lasting power.  Cheaper colognes tend to be heavily alcohol-based and scented with pre-made artificial fragrance. The odor is potent, heavy and simple. As such colognes are affordable, they are often purchased for daily use. Expensive colognes tend to be subtle, well-crafted and distinct. Their fragrances are carefully tailored and complex. Expensive colognes are composed of natural ingredients, infusions and oils that are better suited to the body chemistry than overpowering alcohols and artificial fragrances. They change and evolve throughout the day and on the wearer. Overall, their quality is markedly superior.

Packaging matters

Another important aspect of finding your signature scent? Packaging. Now, this is less about the aesthetic of a perfume bottle and more about the purpose. For example, it matters when a perfume house intentionally makes their bottles, or flacons, out of dark, thick glass to prevent heat from altering the scent or allowing light to weaken it. In addition, you can always tell when a perfume house is serious about their work when they package their releases in heat/light-resistant colors.

Scents that travel well

Dispensing your signature scent into a perfume atomiser is one thing, but slipping a chic compact, leather purse spray or perfumed gel into your bag is quite another. Keep travel-friendly fragrances handy for top-ups on the go. Many popular perfume brands, such as Estée Lauder and Puredistance, sell popular fragrances in travel-friendly bottles. If possible, purchase a small bottle to carry. Women who like to re-apply perfume throughout the day should definitely consider a small, travel bottle to take with them.

How to tell if its your signature scent

Once you’ve honed in on a scent, here’s how to tell if the scent is right for you. First and foremost: Do you love the way it smells? If yes, then it’s definitely worth wearing. Secondly, do you get a lot of compliments on it? If so, then you’re definitely on the right path -not only do you love it, others do, too.

Sources: Fragrances of the WorldThe Fragrance Foundation, Luca Turin, The Secret of Scent, Richard Stamelman, Perfume – Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin.


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