Scent Storage Solutions: How to Organise Your Fragrance Samples & Bottles

Once we start clearing away festive decorations, and the house can suddenly seem rather dull, now is the perfect time to sort out your scent collection, so that you can see what you’ve got and (most importantly) re-discover neglected perfumes you put away and forgot about…

Perhaps you have a collection of hundreds of bottles, or would just like to organise the few you have in a more aesthetically pleasing (and practical) way? Maybe, instead, you have completely lost track of all the gorgeous fragrance samples you’ve been collection from our Discovery Boxes, and are wondering how on earth to sort out the sample vials?

 

 

Don’t panic! Have a look at some of the ingenious storage solutions and suggestions below, and perhaps have a January re-jig of your own…

 

The first thing to ensure is that your fragrance bottles and samples aren’t going to be stored in direct sunlight or too-near a heat source (such as a radiator). Yes, we know, those stunning bottles are begging to be put on display, but just make sure they’re not right opposite a window or on top of the central heating – otherwise, your precious perfumes will evaporate far more rapidly, and even ‘turn’ (go much darker in the bottle, with some of the top and middle notes literally burned off). That’s such a waste of money, and can be utterly heartbreaking if a favourite fragrance is suddenly no longer wearable.

 

 

  • Of course the absolute dream is to have one of those walk-in dedicated fragrance storage rooms one often sees on rich influencers’ TikTok accounts, but that simply isn’t within the reach of most of us. So perhaps consider looking online or on your local charity shop or hardware store’s sale section for some shelving units (or corner shelving, to really maximise space) that could be painted and utilised for your scent bottle collection? If you want to add further shelves or units in the future – if they’re all painted the same colour you don’t need to worry about them all being from the same place or not matching!

 

 

Photo by thehappysloths.com

  • Rather than riffling through an old shoe-box, acrylic shelves and boxes allow you to store smaller sizes and decants, while seeing at a glimpse what you want to wear next. Muji always have a great selection, but do also check out Hobbycraft, stationery and art supply shops, and online sellers, too. Just search for ‘acrylic storage’ and lots of brilliant storage options should present themselves.

 

 

  • Places like charity shops, Etsy and Not on the High Street are great places to search for vintage cake stands – why not choose all those fragrances that are ‘sparking the most joy’ for you right now and arrange them on the tiers, with lighter scents on top, going down to more sultry or heavier, evening-appropriate ones on the bottom layer?

 

 

  • In the days when travelling was infinitely more glamorous, one carried one’s essentials (perfume, obvs) in specially made trunks. Look on auction sites, in second-hand shops and boots fairs for similar vintage cases. Stack them up in a corner, with the top case open, holding your chosen fragrances for the month(s) ahead.

 

Photo by lipstickandlibraries.com

 

  • Sample bottles and tiny vials can be tricky to store en-masse, so consider using lab equipment items like test-tube holders and racks, or look for bullet boxes, makeup caddies, fishing tackle boxes, and tool boxes. You can often find these on Ebay and similar sites, so when trying to store these smaller items, search for these terms and… think outside the box!

 

 

  • Spice racks used to be a feature of everyone’s 1970s kitchen, but now we’re more likely to have whole cupboards-full of exotic ingredients than a faded jar of ‘Mixed Herbs’, so you can usually find the racks cheaply in charity shops. They’re perfect for holding miniature bottles! Also search for ‘nail varnish shelves’ online, and consider the homeware section of your local £1 shop or hardware store.

 

 

  • Consider challenging yourself to trying new fragrances each week (be they samples or bottles you have but rarely use). Lay them out on a pretty tray – easily found in a charity shop, Facebook Marketplace, or jumble sale – and it will focus your attention on them, rather than falling back into the same old habits of wearing the same old thing. And if they’re not sparking joy? Swap them with friends, or treat yourself to something you’ll really love from our Discovery Box selection.

PS: Our Discovery Boxes boxes are also the perfect size to store your samples neatly – sort them alphabetically, by name of house or type of fragrance and add a label to the edge so you see this clearly when stacked on a shelf. But however you choose to arrange and array your collection, the most important thing to remember is that it’s easy to find what you want (or those you didn’t even know you had, in many cases!) that they are ready to hand (and wrist) and so you can fuse and enjoy them afresh.

Shopping your own stash is a complete joy and, often, an olfactory revelation. That sample you once sniffed a year ago and wasn’t sure was ‘you’? Well, maybe it’s right for who you are right now…?!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Desperately Seeking Sunshine? Try These Orange Blossom Scents!

Did you ever sleep in a field of orange-trees in bloom? The air which one inhales deliciously is a quintessence of perfumes. This powerful and sweet smell, as savoury as a sweetmeat, seems to penetrate one, to impregnate, to intoxicate, to induce languor, to bring about a dreamy and somnolent torpor. It is like opium prepared by fairy hands and not by chemists.

Guy de Maupassant, 88 Short Stories

Orange blossom is beloved by perfumers in light-filled ‘solar’ scents – a newly emerging category, and a word I’ve found increasingly used for fragrances which aren’t merely fresh, but attempt the alchemy of bottling sunshine. And these fragrances are more welcome than ever when the season’s change means the darkness hits early, the days seem unnaturally shortened, yet somehow endlessly grey. As such, I urge you to seek out these orange blossom scents – SO right for right now!

 

It’s the bitter orange tree we have to thank for these heady white blossoms – one of the most benificent trees in the world, for it also gives us neroli, orange flower water and petitgrain – all utterly unique in smell, from verdant to va-va-voom depending how they are distilled and the quantity used in a fragrance.

Originating from Asia, the bitter orange was introduced to North Africa by crusaders of the VIIth century, and now it’s just six villages in the Nabeul region of Tunisia that provide the majority of the world’s crop. Women do most of the harvesting, the pickers swathed in headscarves climbing treacherously high-looking ladders to reach the very tops of the trees, typically working eight hours a day and gathering around 20,000 (approximately 10kg) of flowers.

 

 

When the blossoms are hydro-distilled – soaked in water before being heated, with volatile materials carried away in the steam to condense and separate – the extracted oil is neroli, the by-product being orange flower water, while petitgrain is the essential oil steam distilled from the leaves and green twigs.

Long steeped in bridal mythology, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she chose orange blossom to decorate her dress, carried sprigs in her bouquet and even wore a circlet of the blossoms fashioned from gold leaves, white porcelain flowers and green enamelled oranges in her hair. It firmly planted the fashion for ‘blushing brides’ being associated with orange blossom – but this pretty flower can hide a naughty secret beneath its pristine petals…

 

 

While the primly perfect buds might visually convey a sign of innocence, their heady scent can, conversely, bring a lover to their knees with longing. In his novel The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa chronicles crossing an orange grove in full flower, describing ‘…the nuptial scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a landscape… that Islamic perfume evoking houris [beautiful young women] and fleshly joys beyond the grave.’

 

It’s the kind of floral that might signify sunshine and gauzy gowns or veritably snarl with sensuality. Similar to the narcotic addictiveness of jasmine, with something of tuberose’s potency; orange blossom possessses none of that cold, grandiose standoffishness of some white florals: it pulsates, warmly, all the way.

 

Perfumer Alberto Morillas associates the scent of orange blossom with his birthplace: ‘I’m from Seville, when I’m creating a fragrance, all my emotion goes back to my home,’ Alberto told me, talking about his inspiration for his Mizensir Solar Blossom fragrance. ‘You have the sun, the light and water – always a fountain in the middle of the square – and “solar” means your soul is being lifted upwards.’

Oh, how we need that bottled sunshine when summer fades; an almost imperceptible shifting of the light that harkens misty mornings, bejewelled spiderwebs and sudden shivers…

Why not swathe yourself in these light-filled fragrances to huddle against the Stygian gloom? I love wearing them year-round, to remind me sunny days will return, that things will be brighter, presently. I promise.

 

 

Packed full of the brightest orange blossom, swathed in a cloak of earthy moss, soft musk and smooth sandalwood – the creaminess is an addictive layer of warmth. One to swish through leaves while wearing, grinning joyously.

EAU.MG Flor Funk £95 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

 

A shimmering haze of Moroccan magic, the orange blossom diffused by dusk, a languid sigh of inner contentment that resonates for hours – soothing, weaving its way around your soul and making for a blissful beam of happiness with every spritz..

Sana Jardin Berber Blonde £95 for 100ml

 

 

 

 

 

Waves of orange blossom-infused warmth giving way to fig tea sipped beneath the shade of whispering trees, the memory of laughter, and of bare feet on sun-warmed flagstones, fingers entwined, forever dancing, giddy on sunshine.

Stories No.1 £75 for 30ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Perfumer Chris Maurice swirls delectable butterscotch and a ripple of dark chocolate through this orange blossom soaked scent. Vibrating with an amber-oudh glow in the base, it’s a scent that will surprise and delight you throughout the dullest of days.

Sarah Baker Gold Spot £145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

 

 

Suffused with a stillness that tingles expectantly, there’s a silvered gleam of a wooden boat gliding over a lake – the orange blossom darker here, sweetened a touch with candied peel, mellow greengage segueing to a seaweed-tinged purr of myrrh.

Prosody London Whistle Moon £57 for 30ml eau de Cologne

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

How to Layer Fragrances

The art of layering fragrance is sometimes presented as a skill you must not attempt until you’ve fine-tuned your nose to the level of a master perfumer. Or perhaps even suggested as something you should never do. Worry not. We’re here to guide you through with some easy tips and tricks to ensure a fragrant harmony every time you spritz…

Did you know that in the Middle East, people layer up to SEVEN fragrances at a time? Sometimes more! Never be afraid to play with perfume. (The wonderful thing about fragrance is there is no right or wrong: if you like something, then it’s right. If you don’t, you can wash it off. It’s not a tattoo after all.)

 

The best way to begin layering

Start with a scent you like a lot but wish could last even longer / add more character to. Write the name of that fragrance into our clever Find a Fragrance database, and it will give you a description of the notes (individual raw materials and perfumer’s accords) that make up the composition.

Now, pick a favourite note and think which other scents you have with those notes (see if you’ve already got some of those the genius algorithm suggests, or add them to your Must Sniff List, next time you’re shopping!)

 

 

We very rarely seem to leave the house without at least a couple of scents on each arm (hey, it gets hard to choose) and after a day of sniffing and spraying various latest launches, there are occasions we have multiple fragrances vying for attention. Now, this is not the ideal way to wear them, of course – a perfume needs time space to bloom to perfection on your skin – but there are many times and differing reasons you may feel the need to stack up the scents, and here is how you should go about it:

 

 

How to layer if you want your fragrance to last longer

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Particularly in warmer climates. Nothing makes fragrance disappear more quickly than dry skin. Try using a matching body lotion or oil to your fragrance (many have matching products like shower gels as well – the more layers of the scent the better!) Aroma molecules evaporate far slower on well-hydrated skin.

Try also spraying the scent into your hair, too, so it wafts around you all day. Hair doesn’t heat up as much as skin, and will absorb the smell more deeply. Do a patch test, first, to ensure the fragrance doesn’t discolour your hair (spray on a tissue to be sure).

 

 

How to layer if your fragrance is too sweet

Look for dominant citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, mandarin, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often described as being like Champagne bubbles).

 

How to layer & soften a scent

Vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche’, ripe fruits, chocolate or even candy floss. For a smoother, woodier sheen to a scent, add a sandalwood-rich or cashmere/powdery scent on top. These notes feel cocooning, adding a layer of soft comfort to spikier ingredients.

Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!

[See many more suggestions for how to change-up a fragrance you’re not getting on with, here.]

 

 

How to layer if you need to change from day to evening

Consider boosting the base notes of the scent you’re wearing – these tend to be the last to linger on your skin, being made of heavier molecules, and are likely to include ingredients such as patchouli, labdanum, olibanum, vetiver, woods or musk. Or pick out a spicy note for extra sizzle! Once you’ve welcomed the darker side of your scent and allowed it to shine with extra power, your scent trail will be stronger, longer lasting and will add a little wiggle to your walk, as it were.

Also think about investing in a stronger version of your scent – an eau de parfum, if you use the eau de toilette; or a pure parfum if you can invest in it (or ask Santa!) Read about the differing scent strengths and how differently they react and project or ‘throw’ your scent, here.

 

 

What order to layer in?

 

Scented shower / bath gel

Matching body lotion / oil / balm (or a pick out one of the notes of your chosen scent to echo that in the body product)

Eau de Cologne

Eau de toilette

Eau de parfum

Parfum

Perfume oil / attar

Fragranced hair mist (or simply spritz your scent into your hair, on to clothes (having patch-tested!)

 

 

Don’t forget, the Experimental Perfume Club fragrances have been specifically designed to mix at home and layer to your heart’s content!

Another excellent way to test and hone your new found scent layering skills is by getting a Discovery Box to try all sorts of combinations – how many hundreds (or thousands?) of combos you could create by learning to layer, within each box we don’t pretend to know. But one thing we can say for sure: you’ll have a whole lot of fragrant fun!

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

How to ‘Scent Scape’ your Home for Summer

Scent Scaping (sometimes known as ‘fragrance zoning’) is THE fastest way to change-up the feel of your home this summer – think of it like layering your perfumes, but creating a unique ‘signature scent’ for your home, instead. We’ve got top tips from an interior design expert on exactly how to do this, and have selected the perfect perfumed candles and luxury diffusers from Cochine’s sublime collection, to achieve this scented bliss with ease…

 

As a renowned designer, lifestyle blogger and TV presenter, Maxine Brady is always in demand by glossy magazines and lifestyle-led TV shows. A huge fan of using scented candles – for shows such as Grand DesignsKirsty’s Homemade HomeGeorge Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and This Morning – Maxine explains the trend for scent-scaping our homes no matter the weather, really boomed during lockdown. Indeed, according to John Lewis, during the end of 2020 ‘the average online searches for home scents went up by 600%. For diffusers, the searches were up by over 1000%.’ Says Maxine:

 

‘It’s about using aroma and scents to zone our homes, either room by room or during differing times of the day. I like using a different fragrance in the morning to evening. I like decorating a home with candles and diffusers and arrange them much as I would art in a room, to bring them to life. I never think a room is finished until I put a candle on my sideboard… using home fragrance allows me to transfer from a work space feel to a more homely escape. It’s a very clever way to balance our mental health as well as making our homes smell beautiful.’

 

This ‘trend’ has continued with such an upward trajectory, to the point of becoming a perfumed ritual we can all welcome into our lifestyles. It’s not only those who continue to work from home (though there are many, many more companies seeing the sense of this) who are pushing the perfumed home product sales higher – there’s also been a dawning in our culture that candles aren’t really used for their light-giving properties anymore – it’s the ambience we seek. The way we can choose to immediately change-up the atmosphere of a space.

 

Kate Crofton-Atkins – founder of Cochine fragrance

 

It’s not all about candles, though. Reed diffuser sales are similarly off the chart, because people who are away from home, who want to continually scent an area, or perhaps have small children and are concerned about candles burning) love their ease of use, and that ‘unwrap it and forget it’ feeling. However, we promise you won’t be forgetting any of these – the fragrances are so incredible, they’ll give you pleasure every single time you waft past, or open your front door and think ‘ahhh, yes. I’m home!’

 

Maxine Says: ‘All these tips are ideal if you rent rather than own, because you’re unable to change wallpaper and paint, or sometimes even furnishings, you can make the space your own by stamping your personality with home scents…’

 

Maxine’s Styling Tip 1. Use your nose as well as your eyes to decorate your home. Perhaps a hallway is where you put a lovely diffuser to welcome your guests and having it smell gorgeous at all times? As a decorating tool, home scents are a really clever way to bring up & coming trends into your home without changing all the furnishings! Use complimentary coloured vessels to your wallpaper or furnishing colours. People are loving sharing #shellfies on social media.

Maxine’s Styling Tip 2. Use aroma to mark the changing seasons. Fresher sunny scents in summer, and warmer woodier scents in colder seasons. Changing those scents and bringing them into your house really helps stop one day blending into another. According to John Lewis, the average online searches for home scents went up by 600%. For diffusers, the searches were up by over 1000% A candle is an instant pick me up when you need a treat.” Michelle: “I like to use home fragrance to enhance my mood or to change up my mood.”

Maxine’s Styling Tip 3. Create an indoor garden bringing the outdoors in. We know home plants have become incredibly important – the flow between spaces can be between your garden and indoors. Dot plants and succulents around a diffuser – reuse the containers when empty as plant pots or the diffusers as mini vases.

Styling Tip 4. Press the reset button with the power of scent. After a busy and stressful day, it can be hard to mark a line between weekdays and your weekends – reclaim your home and say the weekend starts now. Clear away work things, laptops from tables, shove the kids toys in a box and light a candle as a scene-setter and mood re-setter.

 

 

Cochine’s sumptuous fragrance creations are no longer only for skin – with their gorgeous, top quality home fragrance collection, they can now whisk us to exotic Saigon whenever the mood takes us (which will be often, you will discover…) from where this exciting perfume house takes its inspiration. With over 50 hours’ burn time, Cochine candles will gently infuse any room to create a delicately evocative and inspiring atmosphere. The Cochine diffusers, meanwhile, containing the finest essential oils, and will visually and aromatically give your room a unique and subtle elegance. They easily last you four months of continual use (and we find they last even longer if placed in cooler areas of your home and away from direct sunlight!) Close your eyes, breathe the exquisite notes – and you’re half-way there already.

Now, your only question remains, where will you find best to place these stunning, summery scents in your own home…?

White Jasmine & Gardenia Candle £45 for 230g

This elegant candle evokes the lush floral scents that infuse the sun-filled streets and gardens of Saigon. White petals of jasmine, gardenia and peony combine to unfold an enchanting aura that is soft yet elegant.

Frangipani & Neroli Candle £45 for 230g

Allow yourself to be carried away to soft white sands, brushed with the shade of Frangipani trees. Smooth, honeyed tones of frangipani are combined with the delicate freshness of neroli to create an idyll of blissful tranquillity in your home.

Vietnamese Rose & Delentii Candle £45 for 230g

Capturing the delightful freshness of newly cut flowers, this candle has a light and delicate tone, combining top notes of rose and bergamot with hints of violet, rosewood and the scented orchid, Delentii.

 

 

Tuberose Absolute & Sandalwood Diffuser £60 for 150ml

Exclusively created with master perfumer, Maurice Roucel, this is the scent of exotic and unforgettable nights. Feminine, alluring and intriguing tuberose notes combine with rich leather and sandalwood in this intoxicating, utterly addictive fragrance.

 

 

Water Hyacinth & Lime Blossom Diffuser £60 for 150ml

The immediately uplifting and utterly unique scent of lime blossom is combined with calming, aqueously woody notes of water hyacinth to create an invigorating and fresh fragrance reminiscent of lazy afternoons on the banks of the Saigon River.

 

 

Juniper & Ginger Diffuser £60 for 150ml

Combining the crisp scent of juniper with the sweet spiciness of ginger. Reminiscent of lush, green woods and exotic, evergreen mountains this uplifting scent has hints of clove, bergamot and patchouli blended with the freshness of eucalyptus.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Sarah Baker Extrait vs Eau de Parfum (what’s the difference & where to get samples)

Sarah Baker recently ramped up the ravishing longevity of their fragrances by adding Extrait to their collection. But hang on… WHAT does ‘extrait’ mean, and how does it differ from an eau de parfum? Or, come to that, a ‘parfum’? Here, we’re de-bunking the fragrance myths, finding out how you can try sample-sizes to compare and contrast, and feast your nose on even longer-lasting, full-size fragrances…

 

Contemporary artist Sarah Baker’s photography, sculpture and films are inspired by ‘fashion, luxury and celebrity’, but little did she know that when she created a fictional fragrance house as part of her artwork, her passion for the project (and the public’s reaction to it) would result in a real-life fragrance house. Still very much artistically inspired, luckily for us they’re now ready to (actually) wear… and now these intensified, ultra-long-lasting versions of the scents are on the menu and even more voluptuously desirable!

 

 

From Colognes to extraits, ‘splashes’ to after shaves – there are SO many differing types of fragrance strength descriptions now that it can get really confusing!

Terms like Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum are used to identify the strength or concentration of oil in the carrier (or base – usually alcohol) in a fragrance composition. These concentrations can vary from fragrance to fragrance, brand to brand, depending on how that particular house like to blend their scents, but this is a very general rule of thumb (or nose!)

Extrait / Parfum – 20-30%+

Perfume – 15-25 %

Eau de Parfum  (EDP) – 8-15%

Eau de Toilette (EDT) – 4-8%

Cologne (EDC) –  2-4%

Body cream/lotion –  3-4%

After Shave/Splash  – 2-4%

Soap – 2-4%

Don’t think of higher scent strengths as simply turning up the volume, it’s rather more nuanced than that…

An extrait (often also called Parfum or ‘extract’) is generally the highest percentage of fragrance-to-base that a house creates. These differing strengths perform differently on your skin, too. An extrait will stay on your skin for far longer than an EDP, but it may not project as much, so although it might not kick open a door of a party and announce itself by shouting into the room, it will linger longer, warming with your body throughout the day and night (and into the next day!) creating a sensorial, sensual bubble of intimacy for you – and those lucky enough to be near you – to share the pleasure of.

 

Some people like to layer scent strengths throughout the day. Here’s how:

 

Begin with a refreshing splash of Cologne to get those senses revving, and then wear an Eau de Toilette for day time.

In hot temperatures, consider layering a Cologne or Eau de Toilette with a matching (or unscented) body lotion, as dry skin makes fragrance fade faster.

Try one of the many new hair perfumes – a delightful way to wear your scent, often imbued with moisturising, protective properties as a bonus when temperatures soar (and alcohol-based scents can sizzle dry hair).

As evening falls and you head out on the town, switch things up by adding a spritz of Eau de Parfum to leave a sultrier trail that will last as long your night does.

And for the boudoir – a dab of pure Parfum or Extrait will tempt until the next day (or night) but wont project as far as an Eau de Parfum. Think of them as stronger concentrations, but in a hushed form – only for you and whomever you allow to get that close to nuzzle your neck and admire…

 

 

Is your nose twitching to find out more? See our brilliant FAQ section – there to answer your questions and put the sense into scents.

Meanwhile, if you’re ready to take the extrait perfumed plunge, let’s look at Sarah Baker’s transportive, evocative (and often deliberately provocative) scents to explore, and scroll down to see the sample set of extrait fragrances for you to try

 

 

Gold Spot

‘Why be a star when you can be a legend?’ asks the always artistic, eternally glamorous Sarah Baker, introducing perfumer Chris Maurice’s enticing composition for her house. Balancing bergamot’s brightness with the honeyed headiness of orange blossom, petitgrain pierces through the sweet swirl of butterscotch and dusting of sinfully dark chocolate. Cradled in Laos oudh, Suyufi agarwood and amber, it’s the ’24 Karat glow’ of celebrity’s golden age, made manifest.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Tartan

This is a classic of the collection that’s been adored since the scents were first launched. Sarah Baker, the nose for this one, is better known as the founder of quirky British house 4160 Tuesdays, but here collaborated with Baker to compose this marvel. Picture it: A fire is roaring in the library. You savour a rare single malt. Warmth and heritage envelope you after a walk through mossy ruins in Scotland’s Highlands. Autumnal.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Loudo

Oh now this is completely addictive, we warn you… One to wear when you simply want to smell irresistible – we’ve heard tell of several glossy mag beauty editors who cannot be without this having tried it on their own skin, and having sampled it ourselves, we totally understand why. Playful and sweet with the flavours of childhood appetites, it dries down to something seriously grown-up. A beloved game encountered in the attic, realising years later it was the seed of your adult prowess; the sensual, sexy and clever you.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Leopard

Another from the original collection we fell in lust with at first sniff, this swaggers with glamour, it’s that ‘shoulder pads in a bottle’ scent which we all need sometimes for an instant spritz of confidence. It evokes the strength within, a purr of suggestiveness, a soap-opera bottled that could get out of control if you allow. An epic night out. Heady excess and a whiff of scandal. A big cat signifying power and the right to luxury. The only choice when good behaviour is not an option. Decadent.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Jungle Jezebel

Now this one will surround you in a shield of perfumed protection, but in the most audaciously fabulous way. Too much or not enough? We think it’s the perfect perfume to wear when you need to let your inner diva take the steering wheel and drive you to beyond the limits of your own imagination. Inspired by cult star Divine. A bubblegum mélange of tropical fruits, seductive flowers and predatory tones. A scandalous first impression unveils a balance of audacious combinations. Dare to walk your own path.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

 

Greek Keys

This may well have been the first fragrance we ever smelled from this incredible niche house. Having just launched, we were blown away by the freshness, both of this breezey scent (which wafts the promise of holidays and happiness) and the inventiveness of their collection. Here, fragrance floods Aegean isles, turning fresh on crystal waters. A yacht where a famous affair plays out above and below decks.The sun glistens on your body. A drama that remains fresh forever.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Charade

What a scent, oh boy, you’d better be ready to fall headlong for the lustful trio of tuberose, honey and ylang ylang. It’s fragrances like this that linger so longingly on the skin – like the tingle of a passionate kiss that seemingly last forever in this strength. One to waft when you desire others to follow your trail for hours, unbidden, helplessly seeking another sniff. Ah yes. Cross and double-cross. Who’s fooling who when the stakes are high? A lingering vapour of classic silver screen sophistication. Impeccable.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

 

Atlante

There are occasions that a scent rises above a smell and becomes a texture, a colour, a shimmering sensation that evokes so much and plunges you into an olfactive memory. Here, we find ourselves half dreaming, half remembering, waves kissing our legs, warm sun caressing the skin, a feeling of nakedness that sighs contentedly. In a mythical ocean, a sea shell gives birth to the goddess of love. Desire lingers beneath the shimmering surface. Fresh and beautiful, with an undertow. Salty.

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

Try Extrait Samples…

We’re thrilled to be able to offer you a way to try these fabulous new extraits altogether – so you don’t have to choose between them, giving each a chance to drape itself irresistibly over your skin and radiate ravishingly in turn. Only then can you truly decide which one(s) must be yours…

Sarah Baker Extraits Discovery Set £45 for 8 x 2ml extrait de parfum

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

How to Find Yourself With Fragrance

The theme of our latest issue of The Scented Letter magazine is ‘Fragrance For a New You’, chosen because, we truly believe, perfume allows us to choose who we want to be that day.

It does so invisibly – so you don’t need to don a superhero costume or dye your hair magenta (unless you want to, which we highly encourage!) Instead, perfume seems to work on our psyche, with the ability to both outwardly project our innermost personalities, or to bolster bravado, energy or playfulness we might otherwise struggle to don the mantle of amidst the ongoing daily chaos of our lives.

 

 

 

 

The truth is, since the start of the pandemic we feel, there’s been a seismic shift in the scent world. Many reported wearing more fragrance than ever during lockdown, to travel with their nose, spark scent memories or play with their perfume collection as though it were a dressing-up box. Which, we are here to tell you. it most definitely can be!) And, with many of us still working from home – something our parents would probably never have imagined – so too have we filled those dual-purpose spaces with scented candles and diffusers, as the boom in home fragrance sales proves.

Concurrently, there’s been a more gradual change in the way we wear it: a realisation that the once standard ‘Signature Scent’ was no longer up to the job of reflecting every facet of our characters (or helping mask the more tender bits of our souls on a difficult day). With the wider cultural encouragement to explore what it means to be – uniquely – ourselves, others became more familiar with the concept of layering scents to create their own ‘bespoke’ blends.

So, with the world as your olfactory oyster (though smelling rather more appealing), and with such a plethora of perfumes to choose from; where does one begin the journey to ‘find yourself through fragrance’?

Firstly, you need to get to know what you like, and more than that: how particular perfumes make you feel. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But so many of us become stuck in a bit of a scented rut, or just don’t know where to start with widening our fragrant horizons. Follow these tips to start your own ‘new you’ scent journey, here…

 

 

Where to Start?

Use our simple Find a Fragrance tool – just type the name of a fragrance you already know and love, and the so-clever algorithm suggests six new scents with similar characters to try, with prices to suit all budgets!

 

 

How to Test?

Your taste in fragrance changes over the years – just as in food preference – and depends on weather, what you’ve eaten recently, your mood and hormones. So, take your time to explore a new scent out of your comfort range.

Spray on a blotter first and come back to it at hourly intervals. Write down your initial thoughts, then re-try a few days (and weeks) later.

Many perfumers trained for more years than a heart surgeon, memorising ingredients by connecting their smell to personal scent memories and images that immediately spring to mind, unbidden.

Smell has no distinct language. If you’re struggling to describe a scent, try likening it to fabric (is it velvety, suede-like, cotton fresh, silken or fluffy?) Perhaps it reminds you of music (played on which instruments? Fast or slow?) Or you might picture a place – imagine the air temperature and scenery it evokes…

Your nose gets used to smelling the same things, so avoid wearing the same thing daily. Try layering to re-awaken your senses or branch out with exciting new discoveries!

Like all artists, perfumers tend to have a certain style. If you fall in love with one (we’re predicting several) of these, research them online: we bet you’ll fall for others.

Scent molecules are volatile and evaporate at differing rates. Citruses are lightest, often found in top notes and disappearing rapidly; florals tend to be in the heart while base notes are heavier, woody or resinous. Make these stages last FAR longer by using matching or unscented body lotion, spray into your hair or on clothes (after testing on tissue!)

Undecided? Spray on a scarf rather than skin: you can take it off and sniff again, later! Spraying on fabric (or your hair) also helps make it last far longer as the molecules don’t warm up so quickly (or evaporate) as on skin. As does…

Use an unscented (or matching) body lotion or oil. Fragrance doesn’t last long on dry skin (or in hot climates). It clings far longer to moisturised skin – so slather up, then spray.

Fragrance samples are THE best way to try new things, dive nose-first into a whole new house you’ve never tried or perhaps a differing perfume family than you’d normally go for.

 

 

 

 

Where to Get Samples?

The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of luxury, niche and top-end designer fragrance houses. That way you can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of your own home, before you splash out on a full size. This way, you also get to try things you may never have picked up to try in store (indeed, may never have heard of previously!) and have proper time to try on your skin.

 

 

Want to Explore More…?

Brand Boxes are the way forward. You may know you like one scent from a particular house, and are ready to be a bit braver and see what else they do. It’s a fantastic leaping-off point, actually, as many houses offer differing styles of scents while still retaining a kind of olfactory handwriting – the same way an artist will have a certain look to their work you can recognise, or a clothing designer tends to work with shapes or tones that suit you. So, when you’ve found one you love, do explore the rest in their collection (and obvs samples are the best way to do this without breaking the bank).

 

 

Our Biggest Tip?

Give fragrance TIME. Let it settle. Try it several times (in the morning and /or evening, and when you’re in differing moods, if possible). How we’re feeling, the weather, our hormones and even the food we ate recently all have a huge effect on how scents smell on our skin. Plus, being braver can take time, too. Allow yourself the pleasure of exploration, take notes, compare with friends: have FUN finding yourself with fragrance, while finding a new fragrance for you.

You may surprise yourself with what you end up falling madly for. You know, the one that goes beyond merely smelling nice to that eyes rolling back in your head moment, emitting guttural noises of pleasure at, which people stop you in the street and beg to know the name of.

Oh. You don’t know that one? Well, you’ve just not found it yet! It’s out there. Waiting for you… whomever you feel like being today, tomorrow, and next week.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

I-SPY Scents – 50 fragrances everyone should sniff

From bestsellers to treasures from niche names, Suzy Nightingale suggests 50 fragrances we think you should be sure to sniff out – and what better time to begin than in National Fragrance Week?

 

Those of us who love fragrance are always seeking out the new, the exciting, the just-launched. But it’s sometimes easy to overlook the exquisite creations that are right under our noses. Think of the following as akin to one of those i-SPY books we loved as kids, in which we’d patiently check off lists of ‘must-see’ birds, cathedrals, native shrubs or whatever fuelled our childhood passions.

In The Scented Letter Magazine, issue 50, we published a longer article called ‘50 Fragrant Icons‘, which we are THRILLED to say has made the shortlist of finalists for a Jasmine Award!

[PSST! Sign up here so you get every copy of the magazine sent to your inbox for free!]

Here, we present the first half of those 50 fragrances we believe you simply must seek out (we’ll be sharing the second half of the scent list next week) with direct links so you can explore and find out more. Now, get those blotters ready (and note down those you like the sound of so you can tick off your own 50 fragrances I-Spy list…

 

 

  1. 4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent On the Planet Ever (IMHO) £55 for 100ml eau de parfum 

Founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney created this in 2013 as a bespoke fragrance for a VIP event, with a journalist present declaring it to be ‘the sexiest scent ever!’ And thus, a star fragrance was born. Hints of citrus, smooth vanilla, soft woodiness and musky ambergris form an unassuming but undeniably addictive blend that will have you exuding the sensuality of its name.

 

  1. Acqua di Parma Colonia £58 for 20ml eau de Cologne

A timeless symbol of Italian chic, Colonia dates from 1916 and was first used to scent gentlemen’s handkerchiefs. With fragrant fans including Cary Grant, David Niven, and Audrey Hepburn, it’s as if you’ve wandered into an Italian sunlit idyll. Sicilian citrus, bergamot, lemon, sweet and bitter oranges infuse your soul with golden sunshine, the warm base cashmere soft. Bliss, bottled.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Angela Flanders Precious One from £32 for 10ml eau de parfum

Awarded Best New Independent Fragrance 2012 by the Fragrance Foundation UK, this was London-based perfumer Angela Flanders’s homage to her daughter, Kate. An even more special tribute given Angela’s passing, and Kate taking on the role of perfumer. The exquisite floral accord rests on a base of softest oakmoss, layers of smoky vetiver unfurling their classically cool, deeply intriguing charms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert £81 for 75ml eau de Cologne

Setting the trend for green tea-infused scents, this chicly refreshing fragrance launched in 1992. The pared-back elegance of cool herbaceousness (cardamom atop citrus and coriander) is down to master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. An olfactory haiku, the citrus segues seamlessly to the lucent lily of the valley, jasmine and rose heart, the tea effortlessly steamed in musky woods. Genius.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Byredo Flowerhead £135 for 50ml eau de parfum

Although this made its debut in 2014, founder Ben Gorham had the idea six years previously ‘when I gave my cousin away at her Indian wedding.’ Capturing the vision of an Indian bride’s hair covered in floral decorations, perfumer Jérôme Épinette’s creation pulses with tuberose, wild jasmine, rose petals, Scandinavian lingonberry and Sicilian lemon on a suede-wrapped amber base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Calvin Klein CK ONE £48 for 100ml eau de toilette 

The world’s love for Calvin Klein clothing, accessories and fragrances was at its peak in the 90s, the revolutionary fragrance hitting the shelves in 1994 and immediately making its mark, with $60 million global sales in three months. Ultra-fresh, a first-of-its kind unisex eau de toilette, the Steven Meisel ads starring Kate Moss perfectly evoked its insouciant, aromatic aquatic sexiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Carolina Herrera 212 NYC £49 for 30ml eau de toilette

Carolina Herrera de Báez (Carolina Jr) joined her mother’s empire in 1996, just one year later launching this ‘spirit of New York, bottled’ scent, having grown up amidst an artistic landscape of impeccable style and a ‘language of aromas.’ Alberto Morillas wove a youthful exuberance into airy gardenia and jasmine, the soft, musky sandalwood dry-down a testament to vibrant, urban modernity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Cartier La Panthère £62 for 35ml eau de parfum

Brilliant in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent is everyone’s girl-crush: a woman’s woman who suffuses the house’s heritage with so-cool yet achievable stylishness. Embracing tart fruitiness with gardenia, rose and ylang ylang atop an animalistic purr of patchouli, oakmoss and leather, this gracefully rebellious ‘symbol of freedom’ was a modern classic the moment it first miaowed in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Chanel No5 £65 for 35ml eau de parfum

Recognisable the world over by bottle alone, this iconic fragrance celebrated its 100th birthday last year. Back in 1921 (and ever since), what really set No5 apart was its abstract construction. Legend has it that perfumer Ernest Beaux put an ‘overdose’ of aldehydes (sparkling, Champagne-like notes) in the bottle; while we’ll never know if that was true, the rest is fragrance history – and its future!

 

 

 

  1. Chloe £84 for 50ml eau de parfum

Already known for their flirty, feminine womenswear, Chloe’s debut scent launched in 1975 under the umbrella of Karl Lagerfeld. When time came to create a signature for a new generation, it needed to embody the fresh, confident femininity that’s in Chloé‘s DNA. Thus in 2008, Amandine Clerc-Marie and Michel Almairac dappled delicate peony with a cool, dewy fruitiness for a fluidly graceful go-to.

 

  1. Clarins Eau Dynamisante £39 for 100ml spray

Long before today’s natural beauty trend, Clarins pioneered the use of aromatics and botanicals in skincare; their Eau Dynamisante was the first eau de toilette combining principles of aromatherapy and phytotherapy (plant therapy) in fragrant form, back in 1987. Hydrating, toning, and revivifying via essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petitgrain, ginseng and white tea, it’s immediately mood-lifting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Creed Aventus £210 for 50ml eau de parfum

CREED‘s most celebrated fragrance became a true sensation on its launch in 2010, an unusual pairing of succulent pineapple and smoky birch with further fragrant juxtapositions of blackcurrant and rose, apple and jasmine. Inspired by the dramatic life of Napoleon, it’s become (and remained) a blockbuster for its inventive, unapologetic drama and unconventional boldness of spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Dior Eau Sauvage £69 for 50ml eau de toilette

Christian Dior’s scented legacy has endured long beyond his too-short lifetime. To follow legendary Miss Dior and Diorissimo, in 1966 Edmond Roudnitska was entrusted with this zingy yet ethereal, utterly enthralling cologne-style creation. His clarity of composition – bright, crisp lemon and verdant herbs up top, balanced by a handsomely dry vetiver base – remains a wardrobe must-have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Diptyque Philosykos £125 for 100ml eau de toilette 

Making fig fabulously fashionable in 1996, Olivia Giacobetti lapped the crunchy, vegetal nature of fig leaf with a silky milkiness that spoke of humid exoticism and fragrant escapes. Rippled with coconut, comforted by the pencil-shavings note of cedar’s woodiness as it warms, we know many a perfumista who reached for this during lockdowns, and will be wearing for decades to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Escentric Molecule 01 £50 for 30ml eau de parfum

In 2006, the idea of having a fragrance containing but a single, synthetic ingredient was startling. Maverick perfumer and founder Geza Schoen admits he thought, ‘This one will appeal only to the artists, the freaks, the outsiders.’ He was wrong; the world went crazy for the ISO E Super – that warm, fuzzy comfort of nuzzling your lover’s neck and leaning in for more, more, more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Estée Lauder Youth Dew £55 for 67ml eau de parfum

Launched in 1953, this had a clever dual-purpose: ‘…a bath oil that doubled as a skin perfume.’ Because although it was then considered déclassé for a woman to buy her own fragrance, as Esteé Lauder herself once said, ‘it was feminine, all-American, very girl-next-door to take baths…’ This spicy floral simmers with incense and rich (almost cola-esque) resins: the scent of subversiveness!

 

 

 

 

FLORAL_STREET_ELECTRIC_RHUBARB

 

 

 

  1. Floral Street Electric Rhubarb from £28 for 10ml eau de parfum

This British fragrance house has blown us away with their fun, modern take on fragrances, the charmingly luminous effervescence of Electric Rhubarb a case in point. Perfumer Jérôme Épinette [the nose for all their scents] created this in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society. Think summer days sipping Prosecco – rhubarb’s fizz, sea salt and white flowers an enlivening, joyous jolt.

 

 

  1. Floris Chypress from £17 for 10ml eau de parfum

Chypre is one of the most classic fragrance families, but in 2017, Floris gave it a swoon-worthy twist, with sunshine-filled neroli dancing with the soapy brightness of bergamot, lemon and sweet orange until the heart proffers a floral bouquet. Then, as the lights dim and flicker, a va-va-voom yet never cloying vanilla, transparent muskiness, amber and patchouli are chicly revealed.

 

 

 

 

Frederic Malle's Portrait of a Lady perfume

 

 

 

 

  1. Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady from £138 for 30ml eau de parfum

Once Monsieur Malle took the step of putting perfumer’s names on the bottles, these once-hidden noses became olfactory rock stars. Dominique Ropion had crafted iconic fragrances for years, but with the overtly sensual, dark rose, berries and sinuous patchouli of 2010’s ‘POAL’ (as it’s oft known), he created the decadent scent trail of many a perfumista, and Malle’s bestseller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Giorgio Armani Si £65 for 30ml eau de parfum

Giorgio Armani describes as ‘my tribute to modern femininity, an irresistible combination of grace, strength and independent spirit.’ It’s a masterful ‘reinvention’ of that so-classic Chypre family for a contemporary new audience. Captivating the senses with its three accords – fruity cassis nectar, a modern Chypre accord, and light musky woods – it’s sophisticated yet utterly unfussy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Goutal Eau d’Hadrien £143 for 100ml eau de parfum

If there was an award for ‘Most Mentioned Signature Fragrance by Celebrities’, Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien would probably win the gold medal – and with good reason. In a timelessly intriguing, deceptively simple take on freshness, mouth-watering citrus, ylang ylang and sparkling, soapy aldehydes evoke Annick’s beloved Italian garden. Way ahead of its time in 1981, it’s just as relevant now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Guerlain Shalimar £69 for 30ml eau de parfum

Incredibly over 100 years old. Its creator Jacques Guerlain’s reign lasted 65 fragrance-filled years and included many a masterpiece (Mitsouko, how we adore thee!) Imagine here a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn with heels to a party, citrus swirled with honeyed, night-blooming flowers, powdery iris on a vanilla-plumped base, incense on the breeze: the perfect perfumed romance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Hermès Terre d’Hermès £71 for 50ml eau de toilette

Master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena’s back catalogue could likely fill a list of ‘50 fragrances you should try’ in its own right, but the standout success of this when it launched in 2006 has shown no signs of slowing. Why? It’s the so-structured woodiness that’s riven with vivacious grapefruit, the sheer spices enlivened by a suavely handsome, distinctly flinty vetiver. Sublime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey £46 for 20ml eau de toilette

Reinventing the scent of water to become chicly covetable, as only Issey Miyake truly could. The beautiful transparency of lotus flower and freesia is rippled through with lightly handled lily, rose and carnation; perfumer Jacques Cavallier then delicately dusted peony petals and rested the composition on a smoothly woody base tickled by a swirl of white musk. It still whispers, beguilingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male £42.50 for 40ml eau de toilette

Created by now well-known fragrant maestro Francis Kurkdjian while fresh out of perfumery school, it was quite the olfactory debut in 1995. Taking the outlines of a traditional fougére, the lavender and mint are salt-licked and distinctly salacious, while vanilla, almond-like tonka bean and orange-blossom are positively addictive, and the cumin naughtily skin-like. Ahoy there!

 

How to make a fragrance work harder (even if you think it doesn’t suit you!)

Have you ever found a fragrance you love, but it just doesn’t last long enough? Or, maybe you’ve been given a bottle as a gift, but it’s just not ‘you’? These are problems that feel even more prescient in the current economic climate, when we’re all looking to ‘waste not, want not’ and make the best of what we have.

Perhaps you have scents you used to adore, but you’re not in a current relationship with them anymore because your tastes have changed? Or you want to be braver in 2023 and break out of your comfort zone, but don’t know where to begin? If any of these apply to you – or you’d simply like to know how to make any perfume work harder for you – this guide allows you to get the very best from any fragrance

 

 

#1 – Improve your sense of smell

Absolutely everyone can benefit from this – we’ve had people from normal perfume-lovers, complete novices to industry professionals telling us how trying these techniques have changed the way they smell for the better (for good). This doesn’t mean suddenly gaining the ability of being able to detect every single ingredient within a bottle of perfume, but rather learning to train your nose the way a perfumer does: by deeply exploring the emotions it makes you feel, colours, textures, places and people it reminds you of.

Here are a few simple tips to try every day:

– Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably; close your eyes and keep sniffing for several seconds, then take the blotter away, inhale deeply, and re-sniff the blotter again. Repeat this for a minute or so, and then begin writing a few words in a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a description, and it shouldn’t ‘list’ notes – try to use words that make you think of other things. For example…

– If this scent were a fabric, what would it be? What colour? If you made someone an outfit from that fabric, who would they be, where would they be going?

– If it were a piece of music, what instruments would be playing? Is it classical, rock music, pop, rap or jazz?

Really attempt to get past trying to pick out individual notes, or (if you’re not initially keen) thinking ‘I don’t like this’. Focus instead on the mood it’s creating. The images that come to mind, memories that are triggered, places it makes you think of. Thinking about fragrances in a more abstract (but still personal to you) way helps evaluate them more clearly.

 

 

 

 

#2 – Make your perfume last longer

If the reason you don’t like a perfume is because it just seems to ‘disappear’ on your skin, you’re not alone. We often find those with dry skin have this problem, and it’s even thought genetics and things like hair colour may play a part. Scientists are still finding this out, but while they do, there are ways you can make perfume last far longer:

– Try using a body oil, rich body balm or moisturising lotion before you put any fragrance on (and even afterwards, too), as scent takes longer to evaporate on nourished skin. This helps the fragrance ‘cling’ to your skin more easily, and so you get to actually smell if for more than a few minutes without frantically re-spraying.

– Spray pulse-points you might not usually think of. Behind your knees is a good example – it’s a warm spot that, once spritzed, will mean you leave a fragrant trail…

– Spritz the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into your hair and on clothes – BUT do check by spraying a tissue first that it isn’t going to mark your hair or fabric a strange colour, or leave an oily residue! We adore this way of wearing perfume, as hair and fabric are porous without heating up as much as your skin, allowing the perfume to stay all day.

Spraying a fragrance on to a scarf is a particularly good idea if you want to ‘try on’ a new (perhaps rather more personally challenging) scent but don’t want to commit to it all day.

 

 

 

 

#3 – Store your fragrances correctly

Fragrance certainly doesn’t last forever – but storing it correctly will help preserve the quality and lifespan of your perfume. The key is to keep it away from light and heat – so a bathroom, or a sunny dressing table, is NOT the place for your fragrance stash: higher temperatures affect the top notes of fragrance, making them musty, or more sour.

– If you have a dark cupboard to store perfume in, or a drawer, that’s perfect. (Ideally, keep in the box, or – if you’re using a drawer – wrap bottles in a scarf, or even plastic, unglamorous as that is. Be aware that perfume that’s never been opened and kept in a dark place can last more than 40 years…!).

– If you can’t manage that environment, store on a shelf that doesn’t get direct sunlight, in a not-too-hot room. Then once a bottle is open, you should get up to two years’ life out of it (we’ve had fragrances that last much longer…) Lighter, citrussy scents deteriorate faster than opulent florals…

– You may find you get a better life out of a spray bottle than a splash: if you touch the glass to your skin, and oil from your body gets into the bottle, that can affect the lifespan of your perfume, too: touch your skin to the rim of the bottle – and don’t use stoppers for application, as they are in contact with the contents. NB Dark glass preserves scent for longer than clear versions.

 

 

 

#4 – Learn how to layer

Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already love on its own – why would you need to? – but there are brilliant ways of beefing-up a sadly flimsy fragrance, or adding a zing to something that’s a bit too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a go, because, as we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!

– Add power: ramp it up by adding more base notes like patchouli, labdanum, vetiver, woods or musk.

– Add freshness: look for citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often desribed as being like Champagne bubbles).

– Add beauty: find a scent too ‘harsh’ or clinical? Look to layer it with decadently velvety or lusciously fruity rose oils, the sunshine-bottled scent of orange flower, a heady glamour of tuberose or a luminescent jasmine; try an apricot-like osmanthus flower, the fluffiness of mimosa or the powdery elegance of iris/orris.

– Add sweetness: vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche’, ripe fruits, chocolate or even candy floss. Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!

For layering any of these, you can either try wearing them over other fragrances you have in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced ‘soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance oil or spray, or try layering the scent you don’t currently like over a differently perfumed body lotion or oil.

 

#5 – Turn it in to a part-time perfume

There are days we feel the need to try something completely different, but perhaps don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what to do?

– Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not silk or a light colour, unless you’ve patch-tested it first!) with this perfume you’re unsure of, that way if it gets a bit ‘too much’ or you want to wear something different, you can simply take the scarf off and you’re not committed to having it on your skin for hours. If you’re unlucky enough to work in a place that’s banned the wearing of strong scents (or even, in some offices, all perfumes – quelle horreur!) this is also a really useful way to wear a perfume you can quickly remove.

 

 

#6 – Consider the climate (and your mood!)

Did you know that the weather, your mood and even what you ate up to *two weeks ago* can dramatically alter how scent smells on your skin? Skin and climate temperature are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favourite fragrance will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in hot and colder conditions (depending what countries they’ll be selling in). Don’t re-gift until you’ve tried the perfume again later in the year, or even on holiday (remember those?)

– Similarly, strongly spiced foods can change how a perfume smells on your skin, and when testing fragrances under lab conditions, the ‘skin model’ volunteers they use are often specifically asked to refrain from eating such foods up to two weeks prior to testing, so the perfumers can smell a ‘true’ representation of the scent. Though sometimes the reverse is true: if a fragrance is to be mainly sold in a country where people eat lots of spicy foods, the ‘skin models’ are asked to replicate that diet to ensure the scent works efficiently.

– We now know that mood and hormones play an important part in how we select a fragrance – try a scent when you’re feeling a particular way, and it colours how you feel about the fragrance itself. If you’re feeling stressed or upset, a bit under the weather or just overwhelmed, these are not ideal conditions for testing out something new. Wait until you’re feeling calmer, or simply have more time to really explore what you’re smelling.

 

 

 

#7 – Give it time

If you follow all this advice and still find yourself out of love with a fragrance, keep it awhile and come back to it. If you still hate it, hold a scent swapping party with some pals. But BE SURE. There’s nothing worse than waking at 3am in a cold sweat because suddenly you’re craving that scent you so kindly passed on to a friend, and then having to buy another bottle. So, don’t be too hasty. Every perfume lover has, at some point, made this mistake, and it stings. Oh how it stings. And that somehow makes the longing all the more intense, like guiltily having lurid fantasies about a distant ex who’s since hooked up with someone else. I once did this with a bottle of perfume that’s since been discontinued (now changing hands for silly money on eBay), and it still haunts me to this day. Learn from my perfume pain!

 

You can read more expert tips and tricks in the Frequently Asked Questions section, but if I could just ask one thing of you before you go? Don’t save all your favourite fragrances ‘for best’, or feel guilty about wearing and loving them. Of course you can change them up with more affordable scents, and make them last longer by doing all the above; but if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s to allow yourself pleasure whenever you can get it. A really wonderful fragrance gives you a far greater bang for your buck than the majority of things (legally) available out there, so yes, make them work harder; but god let us enjoy them exuberantly, too!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Scented Snippets – fascinating facts from the history of fragrance

Following a fragrant trail, we present for your delectation a selection of the choicest scented snippets from history. You don’t have to be a history buff (or anorak – though we proudly claim that title at Perfume Society Towers!) to be bewitched by the history of fragrance. We know it’s been used to communicate with the Gods, to seduce, as a display of wealth – or for pure pleasure – for thousands of years. (And perhaps much longer, even if archaeologists can’t yet find the tangible proof through their excavations.)

Perfume’s fascinating trail leads us from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece, to Rome – where rosewater played in fountains – and up to France, where Louis XIV’s court was known as ‘la cour parfumée‘, with the king demanding a different fragrance for every single day…

 Egyptian priests, and their Pharoahs, were entombed with fragrances – and when those tombs were opened by archaeologists, in 1897, the perfumes were discovered to have retained their original, sweet smells.  Important figures in Egyptian history were buried with scented oils, to ensure their ‘olfactory needs’ were fulfilled.

Many of those ingredients are still prized in perfumery today.  Jasmine, hand-picked in the morning.  Frankincense resin, still gathered from the Boswellia shrub, with entire forests cloaking areas of Oman, Yemen, Ethiopia.  (Egyptian Queen Hatsheput was apparently crazy for frankincense:  wall paintings on her temple, showing a large-scale expedition to collect frankincense from the ancient land of Punt.)  They used Nile lotus, myrrh, madonna lilies, honey…

 

 

 

If the art of ancient perfumery was to have a ‘face’, a figurehead, it would surely be Cleopatra.  As legend tells it, she had the the sails of her boat coated with fragrant oils before setting to sea:  ‘The perfumes diffused themselves to the vessel to the shore, which was covered with multitudes.’  Her idea was that Mark Antony would get a waft of her arrival even before he caught sight of her.  As Shakespeare put it:

‘The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
Burn’d on the water;  the poop was beaten gold,
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were lovesick with them…
… From the barge, a strange invisible perfume hits the sense…’

(Which neatly explains the name of a niche Californian fragrance brand, Strange Invisible Perfumes, NB.)

 

 

Public baths were The Big Thing in Ancient Rome, with the affluent classes devoted to body care. Think:  balms, oils, perfumes for skin, hair – and living spaces.  (Food had to appeal to the nose as well as the palate, too, through spicy aromas.)  Even public spaces might be scented:  Emperor Nero was so crazy about roses, he had silver pipes installed so that his dinner guests could be spritzed with rosewater.  (According to legend, he once shelled out £100,000 for a ‘waterfall’ of rosepetals which actually smothered one guest, killing him.  Quite a way to go.)

 

 

Marco Polo brought exotic aromatics and scented goods back to his home city of Venice.  The great explorer returned laden with fragrant treasures from the new civilisations he’d discovered, on his voyage. This major trading hub flourished for a while as the centre of the perfume world. Almost everything was perfumed:  shoes, stockings, gloves, shirts, even coins.  Glamorous women carried or wore a silver version of the pomander, wafting trails of scent through the little perforations, as they moved, helping to block out the fetid smells of the streets and canals.  Meanwhile, doctors wore long robes and bird-like masks stuffed with aromatic herbs to shield themselves against epidemics (including deadly plague).

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth I beckoned Venetian traders to Southampton to offer their scented wares:  it became fashionable to wear musk- and rose-scented pomanders and sachets, in particular. But soon, the epicentre of perfumery moved from Italy to France – thanks to the influence of Queen Catherine de Medici (above), who married King Henri II in 1533.  Until then, French enjoyment of the scent world was mostly in the form of little scented sachets (called ‘coussines’) or moulded clay bottles (known as ‘oilselets de chypre’).  But Catherine brought with her from her native Tuscany scented gloves, the perfume used to mask the unpleasant aroma of poorly-tanned leather.  At the same time, her personal perfumer set up shop in Paris, where he was besieged by orders.

Want to follow the fragrant trail onwards? Find out much more from every era – and what happened next – on our pages dedicated to the history of fragrance

 

Cologne to Parfum: your quick-read, easy guide to scent strengths

From Colognes to extraits, splashes to after shaves – there are so many differing types of fragrance categories now that it can be hard to tell one from another and where to begin. Read our handy guide, below, and get your nose in the know!

Descriptions like Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum are used to identify the strength or concentration of oil in the carrier (or base – usually alcohol) in a fragrance composition. These concentrations can vary from fragrance to fragrance, depending on how that particular brand like to blend their scents, but use this is a rule of thumb (or nose!)

 

 

Extract/extrait/solid perfume – 20-30%

Perfume – 15-25 %

Eau de Parfum  (EDP) – 8-15%

Eau de Toilette (EDT) – 4-8%

Cologne (EDC) –  2-4%

Body cream/lotion –  3-4%

After Shave/Splash  – 2-4%

Soap – 2-4%

 

In general, the higher the percentage, the longer it will last on your skin, and therefore, the higher the price – but do be aware that different concentrations (Perfume, or Eau de Toilette, etc.) may sometimes have differing notes in them, and not simply be weaker or stronger. So when you like a fragrance, we suggest you explore it in all its different concentrations before you find your favourite… Perhaps in the heat, seek some shade and read our recent guide to which classic and contemporary Colognes we recommend for cooling down – we’ve included the fascinating history of the Cologne to tickle your senses, too.

 

 

Some people like to layer their scent types throughout the day. Here’s how:

Begin with a refreshing splash of Cologne to get thoses senses revving, and then wear an Eau de Toilette for day time.

In hot temperatures, consider layering a Cologne or Eau de Toilette with a matching (or unscented) body lotion, as dry skin makes fragrance fade faster.

Try one of the many new hair perfumes – a delightful way to wear your scent, often imbued with moisturising, protective properties as a bouns when temperatures soar (and alcohol-based scents can sizzle dry hair).

As evening falls and you head out on the town, switch things up by adding a spritz of Eau de Parfum to leave a sultrier trail that will last as long your night does.

And for the boudoir – a dab of pure Parfum or Extrait will tempt until the next day (or night) but wont project as far as an Eau de Parfum. Think of them as stronger concentrations, but in a hushed form – only for you and whomever you allow to get that close to nuzzle your neck and admire…

Is your nose twitching to find out more? See our brilliant FAQ section – there to answer your questions and put the sense into scents.

Written by Suzy Nightingale