Invisible to the naked eye, yet capable of bringing back the most vivid memories, smells have a subtle magic about them. Associated to past lovers, our beloved grandmother, a certain place or a specific holiday, they act as olfactive landmarks. No wonder we search for the perfect perfume, that one smell that we will want to wear for years, as if it were created specifically for us. A subtle fragrance that will become a part of our identity. But how exactly does one find the right perfume?
Let’s start by discussing the different types of perfumes available. You will probably have noticed the tendency to organize perfumes according to gender: certain smells have been labeled as masculine (wood, musc, pepper) and will be placed in the men’s section, whereas others are considered feminine (rose, vanilla, candy) and will be found in the women’s aisle. Needless to say, you do not have to abide by these gender prescriptions. Certain brands also offer unisex options, like Calvin Klein’s CK One or Hermès’ fruit perfumes. Scents can also be categorized by the predominant smell they are composed of: a floral, fruity or woody element. You can try narrowing down your search according to a specific flower or fruit you like, such as jasmine, orange blossom, or lemon zest.
To find a fragrance that speaks to you, start out by trying lots of perfumes at random and identifying the elements you like. Or, think of smells that evoke positive things for you, and that you would feel comfortable wearing.
Try it out on your skin. Once you find a perfume you really like on the paper tester, spritz it on yourself to see if it also suits your skin. Indeed, perfumes change in interaction with our skin, altering the scent in a positive or negative way. Also allow the smell to develop, throughout the hours a perfume reveals different notes, the top notes are those perceptible at the beginning, heart at the middle, and base notes at the end. A perfume that smells good at the beginning, might develop into something less pleasant within an hour.
Think about the intensity of the smell you want to wear: parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, or cologne are all different in their concentration level, and also in how long they will last. Eau de parfum is very concentrated, whereas eau de toilette is lighter, and eau de cologne even more so. Cologne tends to be more appropriate for the summer, for its lightness.
Do not be afraid to explore perfumer shops. Sephora offers a wide variety of perfumes, but there are also lots of specialized perfumers and brands that create original scents that less people will be likely to wear. For instance, Jo Malone is famous for its colognes, Diptyque for its eaux de parfums. There are also perfume classics, such as J’adore de Dior, Chloé by Chloé, or La Petite Robe Noire by Guerlain, if you are looking for something timeless.
Once you find a scent you love, spritz it on your wrists, on you neck and behind your knees, all points of warmth that will easily keep the smell. You can also put it on your clothes, whose fabric will also make the fragrance last longer.
You know you’ve found the right perfume when not only do you love it, but people immediately think of you when they smell it!
Article by Inès Huet