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