Quantcast Burst in Style: How To Choose The Right Fragrance

Nov 13, 2010

How To Choose The Right Fragrance

Perfume bottles

Although our scent is not something visible, it is just as important for our appearance as any garnment. The way we smell is one of the first things people notice and often remembered and associated with us.
 Unfortunately, many people underestimate the power and the importance of t fragrance and are likely to either skip the spritz or use something that they happen to own and don't dislike, but don't love.
 If you have decided that using a perfume is not your thing, that's ok. However, if you do enjoy smelling especially nice, but feel like a fish out of water when entering the perfume store, I believe the followig guide will be very useful.

Tip: Skip down if you have some knowledge about perfume classification.

 In the quest of finding the best scent there are some basic information about fragrance groups and types that you shloud know. This is important because after figuring out your preferred class/type you will find it much easier to select a group of potential purchases based on it. For example, if you find that you like chypre florals, you just search for perfumes from that class and sniff till you find  the one(s) you like best.

Olfactive Fragrance Groups

 Aromatics combine of sage, cumin, rosemary, lavender etc. plants with intensive spicy scent of grass. Oftent there are citrus and spice notes. Most of them are men's fragrances.
Subclasses and examples:
 Aquatic (Davidoff - Cool water for him)Fougere (Calvin Klein - IN2U for him)Fruity (Puma - Puma Aqua Man), Green (Elizabeth Arden - Green Tea Intense Woman), Spicy (Estee Lauder - Pleasures For Men).

 This  group was named after perfume Coty Chypre created in 1917. The sharp scent combines oak moss, labdanum, patchouli and bergamot.
Subclasses and examples: 
Floral (Cacharel - LibertĂ©, Chanel - Coco Mademoiselle), Fruity (Dior - Miss Dior Cherie, Gucci- Gucci).
 Citrus fragrances are old and rich. It combines lemon, orange, bergamot, grapefruit or mandarin, with other citrusy, aromatic and tart notes - for men and floral notes - for women.
Subclasses and examples: 
Aromatic (Elizabeth Arden - Green Tea), Gourmand (L`Occitane en Provence - Miel & Citron).


 This is the largest group with numerous compositions with a floral heart: fresh, aquatic, green or powdery flowers, as well as floral-aldehyde, floral-fruity and gourmand.
Subclasses and examples: 
Aldehyde (Chanel - Chanel №5), Aquatic (Escada - Into The Blue Woman), Fruity (Dior - J'adore, D&G Light Blue), Fruity Gourmand (Aquolina - Pink Sugar, Lolita Lempicka - Lolita Lempicka), Green (Chanel - Chanel №19, Marc Jacobs - Marc Jacobs), Woody Musk (Cachcarel - Noa, DKNY Be Delicious)

 Leather perfumes come in many variations: from floral to tart and smoky. Scenting leather products in order to mask it's unpleasant scents  marked the beginning of perfumery. There are no subclasses.
 Gres - Cabochard, Chanel - Cuir de Russie

Oriental fragrances have dominant amber and distinguish by their warmth and sensuality. Their sumptuous bouquet includes musk, vanilla, exotic resins and wood, often paired with exotic flowers and spices.
Subclasses and examples: 
Floral (Alexander McQueen - My Queen, Bvlgari - Jasmin Noir), Fougere (Hermes - Elixir des Merveilles), Spicy (Chanel - Coco, Gucci - Gucci Eau de Parfum), Vanilla (Chanel - Allure, Thierry Mugler - Angel), Woody (Dior - Doce Vita, Midnight Poison).

Rich blends with woody middle notes. Warm, mysterious sandalwood, drier and sharper cedar and vetiver, resin-like and balmy exotic sorts are usually accompanied with aromatic and citrusy notes.
Subclasses and examples: 
Aquatic (Dsquared2 - She Wood), Aromatic (Guerlain - Vetiver for man), Chypre (Halston - Halston Couture), Floral Musk (Lancome - Magnifique), Spicy (Hermes - Un Jardin Apres la Mousson).

Perfume Notes 

Perfume is described in a musical metaphor as having three sets of notes, making the harmonious scent accord. The notes unfold over time, with the immediate impression of the top note leading to the deeper middle notes, and the base notes gradually appearing as the final stage. These notes are created carefully with knowledge of the evaporation process of the perfume. They are :

Top/Head Notes: These are the first thing you smell and evaporate the quickest - usually last for about 5 minutes. They create the first impression and are very imortant for selling a perfume. 
Middle/Heart Notes: They appear after the top notes fade and give you deeper impression. They develod and are the dominant in the composition. Last between 1 and 5 hours. 

Base Notes: They appear 10-15 minutes after application.They are the most stable and durable notes of the perfume composition and can last 24 hours or more. This part is the warmest and most sensual, and unites harmoniously with the skin odor.

All in all, 15-20 minutes after applied, the scent is fully develped and ready for your evaluation. 

Perfume Concentrations
     I believe all of you are aware of the main types of concentration, but here I've written down some lesser known and tried to explain them. 

    Perfume/Parfum (Extrait): Contains the highest pecentage of fragrant components - 15-30% (sometimes it's even more). The sale size is usually 7,5 to 15 ml - this may seem little but due to the high concentration very small quantiy is enough to last you more than 24 hours. Is is comparatively rarely produced, high-priced and much cherished because it reveals the scent in it's full glory.
    Perfume Water (Eau de Parfum)It has the ideal ratio between quality and price and has concentration of 10 to 20%. For the long run it's cheaper to purchase bigger quantity (75 - 100ml). It has very good lasting power.
    Toilette Water (Eau de Toilette):  Contains 4 to 10% of perfume extract. Often perfumes are produced only in this concentration. Compared to Perfume and EDP is  looses in richness of its composition, but sometimes it's the more appropriate choice for day time use as it's less intense.Men's EDT is usually more concentrated than women's.
    Cologne Water (Eau de Cologne): The concentration is as low as 3 to 5% and is typical for men's products.
    After Shave: Has about 3% of perfume extract. It is usually applied before perfume.

    Useful Tips 

    Now after all that theory comes some practical advice about choosing and shopping for perfume. Provided to you by my experience and containig personal opinion.

    1. Don't rush!  
    One of the most common mistakes is buying a perfume 5 minutes after you tried it. Usually such impulsive purchases lead to regret later after you have had the chance to wear the scent and realise it doesn't match with your body chemistry, lasts only half an hour or you simply don't enjoy it as much as you thought. I recommed testing the chosen perfumes on your skin and waiting at least 4-6 before making a final decision.

    2. Test carefully
    Please be a good girl/boy by testing on your skin everything you would consider to but. Spritzing it on paper gives only scarce idea of the way the perfume will smell on you, reacting with your personal chemistry. Also ! never buy something just because you smelled it on somebody else and it was amazing. On-skin test is the only way to find a perfume that suits  YOU.

    3.  Be picky
    Of course you can run to the local drugstore and start sniffing randomly pretty bottles, but you might want to consider more carefully where to shop and which perfumes to try on. I suggest two options. After you've found a good perfume store with wide variety and qualified assistants you could either make a list of fragrances you'd like to test (based your favorite class of example) and go sniffing or go empty-handed and sniff and write down what you've liked so that you know what you're wearing after it has developed and charned you. In both cases it's a good idea to ask the assistans questins and hopefully they will be able to recommend you something.

    4. Be insolent
    Now after you have found a good place to shop and know what you want to test, it's time to approach an assistant and shamelessly ask for a sample. Often they won't give you unless you ask so don't hesitate. The sample contains enough of the fragrance to allow you to wear it long enogh to get a good impression of it. I certainly don't tell you to ask for a sample of every good scent you encounter, as this will most probably get you kicked out of the store, but it's the best way to make sure you and your pick are compatible.

    5. Be smart
    I know you are intelligent individual but even the best of us are not immune to clever advertising strategies and pretty packings. I understand the urge to buy something becouse it will look sooo beautiful on your shelf and the model in the add looks very happy and glam. BUT you mustn't let these superficial aspects fool you! You are smarter that that! And remember that A) if something is advertised everywhere that is probably done to compensate for it's less that great qualities (e.g. lasts 5 minutes) B) never have complete trust in the gushing flattery of a salesperson about a certain fragrance, trust only YOUR NOSE!

    6. No wishful thinking
    I'm sorry to say this, but at some point you will fall in love with a fragrance you doesn't feel the same way about you. Maybe you will adore the smell but it won't stick with you for more than 30 minutes or the beautiful composition will turn gruesome combined with your skin's chemistry. In those unfortunate cases you must be strong and move on. Don't make compromises.  After all, what is the point of buying something that you cant'n enjoy tha way you shoul be. I promise you'll find the one for you that will fulfill all of your expectations. Be patient. You know it's worth it.

    7. Be savy
    It's unbelievable how ridiculously overpiced the perfumes in some stores can be. If you don't care whether you will pay $100 or $50 for the same amount of the fragrance you've chosen, you're lucky. But of you don't want to be robbed by shiny shops with sweet salespersons, you should make your research and find the places where the price of the perfume you'd like to buy is more realistic. I don't mean to sound stingy but if you want to build a decent collection of nice perfumes spending a fortune you'd better spend some time on researching where and how much. Personall, I've given up on buying fragrances from "real" stores. Instead, I prefer to use trustworthy online sellers which almost always carry the perfumes I want and offer it at a very good price.

    Here are some of the sites I've used and have been pleased with:
    Fragrancex - free shipping, huge variety, authentic items with reasonable price. My only complaint is that the delivery often takes much longer than expected, but if I'm in Europe, if you are form the USA it should be fine.
    Fragrancedirect and Cheapsmells - those are British sites and I recommend them particularly for Europeans. The perfumes are genuine, comperatively cheap and the delivery is quick.
    Strawberrynet - Authentic products, free but slow shipping. The prices aren't the best but there are weekly/monthly/holiday specials which have some good stuff.

    Disclaimer: this is not advertisement  of any kind. It is solely an expression of my opinion.

    8. Read reviews
    I find reading review of perfumes in which I'm interested if very helpful. Seening the scent through somebody else's eyes and readind what more experienced people think of a scent can help you a great deal, esprcially when you're just starting out.
    Check out Fragrantica ,   MakeupalleyNowsmellthis.

    Now you are ready to start your jurney to finding the perfect scent(s) for you!
    Good luck and happy sniffing!

    I hope you enjoyed this post. I'm comsidering making a series about perfumes - how to use and store them, how to build the perfect perfume warderobe and write some reviews. Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Thanks, you're the best reader.


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