Ostens is a fragrance house celebrating the finest ingredients they could get their hands on, and ‘ripping up the rule book’ of perfumery along the way…
Friends and business partners Christopher Yu and Laurent Delafon have been in the fragrance industry for over 20 years – they’ve worked alongside such notable names as Francis Kurkdjian, Olivier Polge, Lyn Harris, Sophie Labbé and Dominique Ropion – and fortuitously enough, first met in the Liberty perfumery department.
Laurent had a role in perfume distribution for Diptyque. Chris, though a self-confessed ‘fragrance nut’, was then ‘in computers.’ They got chatting, and not long after that meeting, took the plunge to go into business together, founding United Perfumes, where Christopher took on the role as Managing Director, and Laurent became the CEO.
As part of their jobs, they regularly travelled to Grasse, and one day heard tell of name well known by industry insiders, but practically unheard of in the wider public: LMR Naturals: Laboratoire Monique Rémy.
‘We loved the sort of secrecy about them, this idea that nobody outside the perfume world knew about LMR Naturals,’ Christopher confesses.
Viiting their HQ and smelling the incredible LMR ingredients, at that moment the duo decided they must get these under the noses of perfume lovers – to celebrate the materials themselves. And so (some years later, it must be said – a fragrance house isn’t buiilt overnight!) Ostens was born – raw ingredients made magical.
Those fragrances are found in two forms: for each hero ingredient, there is a fragrance ‘Preparation Oil’ and an eaux de parfum ‘Impression.’ Ostens use the term ‘Impressions’, because each fragrance takes an LMR ‘hero ingredient’ as the creative jumping off point – cedarwood, patchouli heart, rose Isparta, jasmine absolute and Cashmeran Velvet. And while sometimes that ingredient is the central focus, in others ‘it is more akin to a spice, used sparingly yet dramatically,’ explains Chris.
You can read their full story in our page dedicated to Ostens; but we are now so thrilled to be able to bring these fabulous fragrances directly to your noses, via their exquisite Ostens Discovery Set.
Inside the beautifully bound (and very book-like) slip case, you’ll find a whole library of olfactory wonders to explore…
Cashmeran Velvet – Cashmeran Velvet is a synthetic molecule which mimics the scent of warm, comforting woods with a slightly charred and smoky quality.
Cedarwood Heart – Cedarwood Heart leaves a dry, almost pencil-shavings scent on the skin that’s then softened by an unexpected, slightly creamy and almost vanilla like quality.
Jasmine Absolute – Ostens selected jasminum grandiflora grown in Egypt, for its fresh, natural, almost stem-like scent.
Patchouli Heart No.I – Patchouli Heart from Indonesia softer, warmer, and a more modern interpretation of the classic patchouli.
Patchouli Heart No.II – Patchouli Heart from Indonesia is a softer, warmer, and more modern interpretation of the classic patchouli – another spin on the highly versatile ingredient.
Rose Oil Isparta – A rose is a rose…or so we thought until we smelt the unique scent of the Rosa Damascena from Turkey.
Vintage perfume posters are currently making us consider papering entire rooms with them, and these are particularly swoon-worthy versions…
In these uncertain times, sales of classic fragrances are, appparently soaring.
And no wonder. We’re crying out for a bit of soothing scented nostalgia to wallow in, and so although actual vintage versions of these fragrances would set you back a pretty penny (well-preserved bottles and rare examples can go for anything from a couple of hundred quid to several hundred thousand!) it’s rather tempting to purchase several of these gorgeous advertising poster prints, non?
Well, we’ve picked some favourites for you – each of which can be purchased as a print (if in stock) or, for a fee, downloaded as a high quality image file to use as you please, sans the watermarks of course.
We’re thinking ahead to (shhh!) Christmas, and birthday presents, or perhaps just to send to fragrance-loving friends we can’t meet up with right now. As well as, you know, papering every wall we can find…
It can often be tricky navigating your way through a range of new fragrances, so Yardley London has launched a Fragrance Diagnostic Tool online, to provide personalised fragrance recommendations (AND a discount code!) via your favourite ingredients, and a signpost to your perfect scent…
Celebrating their 250th anniversary (an incredible heritage you can read all about on our page dedicated to their history), Yardley London’sFragrance Diagnostic Tool is a quick and simple way to guide you to your new favourite fragrance. All you need to do is pick some of your favourite notes from a list, and the fragrances that most closely match your taste will be presented to you.
I got matched to April Violets, which shows it works, as that’s one of my all-time favourites – all powdery/pretty with verdant violet leaf adding shade) – and Blossom & Peach, which I must admit to not knowing so well, but it sounds utterly perfect for me. Blackcurrant, rose, peach, lilac and geranium with woody notes, patchouli and musk? Yes please! So that’s on my must-try list.
Even better: Once the diagnostic has been completed, customers receive a 10% off discount code valid on the Yardley range of eau de toilettes. So maybe my ‘must try‘ list is suddenly ‘must buy right NOW’…
Love’s language may be talked with these
To work out choicest sentences,
No blossoms can be meeter
And, such being used in Eastern bowers
Young maids may wonder if the flowers
Or meanings be the sweeter.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, 1806 – 1861
With our ‘Step in to the Garden‘ issue of The Scented Letter Magazine hot off the press, and more of us craving the colours, textures and (of course) scents of flowers more than ever in these uncertain times… floral inspiration is springing up all over!
Penhaligon’s have published a fascinating guide to the ancient ‘Language of Flowers‘ – the hidden meanings attached to seemingly innocent blooms, and how these could be used to send secret messages that bypassed stringent social ettiquette in the past…
The newsletter is always packed full of interesting scented snippets, and here is their explantion of that secret scented Language of Flowers, first printed in the Penhaligon’s Times:
‘What could be more pleasurable than receiving an unexpected bunch of flowers! A bunch of bluebells to brighten a day. Lily of the Valley to celebrate a lover’s return, or a simple rose to nurture a budding romance. How much more pleasurable may be if the flowers themselves carry a hidden meaning. From ancient times flowers have been symbolic. The Romans honoured their heroes with laurel wreaths and Greek mythology tells how many flowers were created.
Poets have always extolled the virtues of flowers, and since Elizabethan times have written on their meanings. But it was the Victorians who turned flower-giving into an art. Inspired by a book entitled Le Langage de Fleurs by Madame de la Tour, the Victorians practised the new floral code with the same dedication with which they built their cities and furnished their homes.
The choice of flower was all important, but so too was the manner of presentation. If the flowers were upside down the opposite meaning was intended. Thus tulips presented with their stems uppermost meant blatant rejection from a lover. If the ribbon was tied to the left, the meaning referred to the giver, if tied to the right, to the recipient. On the other hand, one could always respond by wearing the flower in different ways – on her heart of course meant love, but worn in the hair implied caution. Both are acceptable locations for a light mist of scent.’
So now, what will your virtual bouquet say in this secret Language of Flowers, we wonder…?
Scented candles have become a staple for many a home these past few months – establishing a sense of calm or uplifting spirits when we may have felt rather trapped indoors – and affirming the long established massive rise in sales of fragranced candles year ’round…
It seems practically a century ago, now, but in 2018 it was reported that the U.K. ‘candle economy’ was already worth £1.9bn. With some online retailers recently reporting that sales of scented candles over the Covid-19 lockdown period have massively spiked, Emma Fishwick, account manager of consumer trend monitors, NPD UK Beauty, said that this proves ‘…how important home comforts are to us. We have seen from our data that consumers are increasingly turning to self-care to improve wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. People are utilising scents to create a calming ambiance while confined at home during this period of uncertainty.’
Many of us will be missing out on a summer holiday abroad this year, too, as travel restrictions continue, and so we’re going to focus on the positive changes we can make to ensure our homes feel even more welcome, or sending lovely scented gifts to friends we miss. And we feel sure we wont be alone in stocking up further on some of these beautifully evocative, so-summer-y scented candles that guarantee to let the sunshine in…
Inspired by Empress Eugenie’s historic, sun-drenched Corsican villa, this wafts forth a grove of salt-tinged lemon trees, ripe figs and smooth cedar.
Their best-selling fragrance has been transformed into a candle, so now you can fill your home with the luminious floral bouquet of Turkish rose garlanded with crisp lily of the valley and beautifully powdery peonies.
Acqua di Parma teamed with California-based La DoubleJ for this limited edition Arancia di Capri candle, transporting us directly to the Italian Med via sparkling, cardamom-speckled citrus.
Acqua di Parma + La DoubleJ Arancia di Capri candle £60
Buy it at ladoublej.com
Escape to tropical climes with the scent of Madagascan ylang-ylang, Moroccan jasmine, rose and heavenly frangipani for intimate summer evenings (or whenever you just want to unwind).
Sana Jardin Revolution de la Fleur candle £48
Buy it at sanajardin.com
A stroll along an English coastal resport on a sunny day is perfectly evoked with banks of windswept wild flowers, lush countryside grassiness and slightly spicy undertones to warm your cockles as the sun sets over the sea.
With Father’s Day fast-approaching, our thoughts turn to finding a special treat for our dads – and father-figures or special men in our lives. And we have TWO bundles of fragrances worth over £300 to giveaway!
Each of these fragrances effortlessly evokes the balmy air and blue seas of much-loved destinations we’re desperately missing right now. Oh we can practically feel the sun on our skin and the sand beneath our toes just imagining smelling these – fragrance truly is the most incredible way to travel with your nose…
‘Versace Dylan Blue is a highly distinctive fougere with a fragrant woody aroma based on the unique olfactory properties of precious natural ingredients and the latest generation of molecules. Natural citrus notes of bergamot and grapefruit combine with modern hints of fig leaf to give an incisive Mediterranean freshness while aquatic notes lend depth and round off the citrus tang. Woody notes of ambrox, papyrus and organic patchouli form the perfume’s powerful, pulsating heart.’
‘For a thoroughly modern take on the Mediterranean theme DSquared2 Wood For Him, opens with the freshness of Calabrian bergamot, mandarin and lemon from Sicily, enriched with ginger, violet and cardamom. Ambrox and a modern blend of white woods intensify the elegance of vetiver, resulting in a scent that is strong, sturdy, unique and inimitable!’
‘Our fathers are our heroes and Versace Eros is the stuff of legend! So take a journey to ancient Greece with the intense and vibrant freshness of mint leaves, lemon zest and green apple. Enveloping notes of tonka bean,
Ambroxan (Amber), geranium flower and Vanilla open into a medley of woods including cedarwood from Atlas and Virginia,vetiver and oak moss. Intense and unforgettable!’
‘For a warmer, spicier alternative the delightfully vivacious Versace Eros Flameis full of fresh, juicy Italian hesperidic fruits such as lemon, tangerine and bitter orange warmed with notes of black pepper from Madagascar and enveloped in aromatic wild rosemary. The base resonates with notes of precious woods such as Texas cedar, patchouli coeur, Haitian vetiver, mountain oak moss accord and sandalwood subtly blended with the tonka bean and vanilla.’
How to enter: All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning ALL of these fragrances, is head to our Instagram account and tag TWO people who you think deserve this wonderful scented surprise. Imagine how thrilled they’ll be when you tell them! And even if we can’t travel with loved ones somewhere wonderful, at least we can plan for the future and send them a fragrant reminder of Mediterranean dreaming…
Prize draw closes on Sunday 21st June 2020 T&Cs: Due to shipping restrictions we are only able to accept entries on the UK mainland and in Northern Ireland.
That moment of mounting panic when you suddenly realise… you’ve left it too late to present them with a gift! Uh-oh. But hey, it’s okay – whether you’ve dropped the ball for Valentines day, an anniversary, birthday or any special occasion you absolutely meant to remember: we have the scent solutions!
Here are some ideas that you can ‘gift’ your recipient with immediately, no postage required – simply write them a lovely card and explain you’ve treated them to one of the following (with fragrant swag to follow). If they love to smell great, we guarantee they’ll be delighted…
Simply tick the ‘this is a gift’ box and give 365 days of fabulous fragrant activities with our Perfume Society VIP Cub Subscription for only £25, and they’ll receive the following exclusive benefits:
• Six issues a year of our online/downloadable digital magazineThe Scented Letter – (virtually) the only publication in the world devoted to all things fragrant…
• Exclusive competitions with fab fragrant prizes – including bottles signed by perfumers.
• Early access to tickets for all our events – meet with leading ‘noses’ and key figures from the perfume world, attend in-store events, workshops, etc. (Our VIPs are first to hear about these.)
• A special member’s discount on our Perfume Society Discovery Boxes (normally £19 – but £15 to our VIPs)
• Plus choose a FREE Discovery Box when you sign up (so they’ll get an actual present to look forward to)
For people who love print (we must admit to being partial – for longer features, especially), give them a year of fragrant reading with a Scented Letter magazine Print Subscription for £75. This multi-award-winning publication has been described as a ‘must-read’ by industry insiders and perfume-lovers, so we are delighted that in addition to our digital magazine we can now offer this print subscription of The Scented Letter, delivered to your door and starting with the current edition. (For autumn 2017, we look at Fashion, Fabric + Fragrance.)
Appearing six times a year this utterly beautiful magazine, featuring at least 60 pages on perfume news, features and much more is bound to take you ever-deeper into the scented world. Click here for a sneak-peak at our taster issue!
In addition, we feature all the breaking scent news, interviews with ‘noses’ and other creators, alongside fragrant features by leading fragrance writers – from Thomas Dunckley (The Perfume Candy Boy) to Persolaise, via Viola Levy and our Senior Writer Suzy Nightingale. (If you’ve signed up as a subscriber, you will continue to receive access to the complimentary e-zine version.)
NB We are able to ship The Scented Letter overseas; please contact us for prices here
Who doesn’t like filling out some kind of personality questionaire? There are now a great selection of Scent-matching Personality Tests you can take for FREE online or in-store, so get them to do the quiz now and offer to buy a bottle later. Genius!
Molton Brown invite you to ‘Embark on an illuminating journey to discover the ideal match for your unique self.’ The profiling system, was created in tandem with trend forecasting and innovation agency The Future Laboratory, and you instinctively choose from a series of images, at the end of which you’ll discover which ‘psychological perfume profile’ you match. Everyone we know who’s tried it has found it an incredible experience, and it’s brilliant at selecting scents you may easily have overlooked yourself.
Penhaligon’s offer a visual feast to explore while answering simple questions, all illustrated in their delightfully quirky and so-iconic way, with prompts to choose between textures, places to visit and favourite thirst-quenchers. It’s fun and quick to answer the test, and somehow they really do expertly pinpoint your perfume personality type. At the end you’ll be presented with a selection of samples to choose from, which you can either purchase online or pop into a store to smell, before splashing out for a full bottle.
Experimental Perfume Club are brilliant at taking the worry out of picking a new perfume, and their recently launched LAYERS Lab in Selfridges features a fantastically acurate in-store app that allows you to create your own bespoke perfume! We wrote about the concept in more detail here, but basically, the LAYERS App asks questions before recommending 3 possible formulae. You can either choose from the selection or customise the fragrance further with the help of their Fragrance Curator. Once you choose your final blend, your unique fragrance is created in front of you. And, for the ultimate bespoke touch, you can choose a name for your fragrance and a personalised label for your 50ml bottle.
If they are really into perfume and want to learn more, we’re pretty sure they’d love to have a go at making their own on a Perfume Making Workshop. It really gives you an insight into how a perfumer works, and a new appreciation for their creations, and a number of courses offer differing experiences that make perfume perfume-lover’s gifts.
4160 Tuesdays offer a number of options for perfume lovers who want to go that step further and have a guided session of making their own, from an afternoon or full day workshops, right through to five day workshops for the really serious, and more technical courses for the more experienced and those who want to start their own house. They can travel to you if there’s a large enough group (great idea for a party), or you can visit their beautiful new studio in London.
Karen Gilbert is a perfumer who offers online workshops, live presentations and studio based courses for anyone interested in creating fine fragrances, natural perfumes or developing your own range of scented bath and body products. Signing up to her newsletter also gives you access to top tips on where to buy the best ingredients and materials you’ll need, and there are even free online taster sessions to get those creative juices flowing.
Cotswold Perfumery have been making perfume for over 50 years, run by chief perfumer John Stephens, who now invites the fragrance obsessed to indulge their passions in various courses and one-day workshops. Running throughout the year in a dedicated teaching room/laboratory at the Cotswold Perfumery in the beautiful village of Bourton-on-the-Water; ‘as well as learning the skills involved in developing and making your own perfume (to take home with you), you’ll get a unique insight into the life and work of John, one of only six independent perfumers in the UK.’
Whichever of these last-minute gift options you choose, it’s bound to be appriated by any perfume lover. Why not print out an I.O.U voucher to put in the card, as a reminder they will get an actual gift later on? Or you know, gussy up some lovely word to write in their card, add a bunch of flowers and put the date one week ahead in your diary for next year?
Listen, the signs and suggestions for V-Day have been in the shops the moment they cleared the tinsel and trees away, but if you’re not in a conventional romantic relationship – through choice or otherwise – we know you can start to feel sick of it all well before the box of half-price chocolates are opened.
So we say: don’t wait – why not treat yourselfto some scented goodies this year? We have no doubt there are all sorts of reasons you should be kind to yourself, and things you deserve to celebrate. Managed to get through January without murdering anyone? That’s a win!
Here’sour edit of some fabulously fragrant ways to indulge…
The Anima Vinci Discovery Set invites you to take a breath and re-connect, with scents showcasing ingredients designed to help you seek inner strength, peace and joyfulness – literally a monent to stop and smell the roses (or jasmine, ylang ylang, sesame, palo santo…). The creative expression of founder and industry expert, Nathalie Vinciguerra‘s strong belief in the power of fragrance and the positive effect it can have on your heart, mind and spirit, these perfumes have been created in collaboration with the world’s top ‘noses’. Think: Fanny Bal, Thomas Fontaine, Michel Roudnitska, Christian Provenzano, Beverley Bayne and Randa Hammami – true experts and alchemists in the world of fragrance. Which one will you connect with first…?
Lime Spirit — Lime acts as a stimulating tonic for the mind and body. Lime pacifies your mood and boost brain power. It is a powerful ancient remedy for cleansing the aura and restoring self-confidence
Rose Prana — It benefits the heart chakra that is responsible for love, spiritual wisdom and mental clarity. Influences the central nervous system, boosts self-confidence, self – esteem and positive feeling. Strengthens the aura and stimulate the body
Jasmine Yang — Tonic and relaxant, it generates a positive reaction in the mind, enhances self-confidence, helps to change the mood and increase spiritual well being
Wood of Life — This elevating, soft, uplifting and sweet woody scent has been used for thousands of years for attaining illumination of mind, awaking self-love
Oud Delight — Illuminates the mind and fortifies the power of thinking. Increase the sense of strength, bringing in tranquillity, increasing cerebral functioning and strengthening the nervous system.
Tudo Azul — The potion to put a smile on your face.
Neroli Wisdom — A relaxing potion.
Sesame Chān — A potion to provide a zen state of mind.
Perfumer Emmanuelle Moeglin first developed workshops for frag heads to create their own fragrances in her open-source lab – then went on to conjure the Experimental Perfume Club Discovery Set, so scent lovers can now mix, layer or personalise their own bespoke blends at home . Genius! If you have ever wanted to ‘tweak’ a scent or are intrigued by making something unique to you – this is the perfect starting point. Each fragrance can be worn alone, or layered (with guidance) to get something completely new for you. Featuring SIX NICHE FRAGRANCES to layer, explore and learn, what a great gift to yourself to emark on an exciting fragrant journey…
Bergamot / Incense – Top Layer – citrus and exotic spices are brought together in this bright fragrance with Eastern influence.
Fig / Neroli – Top Layer – the crunch of fresh herbs in a Mediterranean garden in bloom.
Jasmine / Osmanthus – Mid Layer – a tribute to white flowers growing on hot sand. Radiant, floral and exotic.
Rose / Rhubarb – Mid Layer – imagine rose bushes growing from a rhubarb patch.
Amber / Iris – Base Layer – an amber wrapped in powdery notes; dark yet soft.
Sandalwood / Musk – Base Layer – mineral sandalwood met with leather and musks. Mineral, woody and addictive.
Founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed created a stunning portfolio of perfumes reflecting her life-long love of fragrance – nurtured on travels through the Middle East with her inspirational grandmother. Created by renowned perfumer Carlos Benaïm, Amy’s collection – the Sana Jardin Discovery Set – offers sensuous, strong women-led scents with sustainability (currently a ‘buzzword’ in perfumery) at the heart of everything they do. We now invite you to delight your senses with the SEVEN very special fragrances in the line-up:
Savage Jasmine Night-blooming jasmine, wrapped around intoxicating musk.
Sandalwood Temple Moroccan neroli oil, enveloped it in Atlas cedarwood, Haitian vetiver, creamy vanilla and East Indian sandalwood.
Tiger By Her Side Showcases Moroccan rose alongside Somalian incense and Indonesian patchouli.
Berber Blonde Filled with the light of Sana Jardin’s signature orange blossom, alongside Moroccan neroli oil and musk.
Celestial Patchouli Exotic aromas of patchouli, leather, cinnamon bark and Australian Sandalwood give way to the abundant warmth of rose, jasmine, osmanthus and Moroccan orris.
Nubian Musk A sensuously inviting blend of musk and vanilla, rose, jasmine, Moroccan grapefruit flower, Haitian vetiver and Australian sandalwood.
Revolution de la Fleur This is a sultry, sun-filled melody of Madagascan ylang ylang, Moroccan jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood.
Jaipur Chant Heady & Seductive Tuberose. Indian tuberose, the goddess of flowers, blooms in the still of night.
If you have vouchers or Christmas cash gifts burning a hole in your pocket, or perhaps have been thinking about stepping outside your comfort zone and changing up your scent game for 2020, we have three simple steps to follow to find your perfect new fragrance.
With literally thousands of new launches every year, even we can’t get our noses around all of them! So, where to begin…?
At The Perfume Society, we’re here to make finding your next ‘new favourite’ fragrance a complete doddle. Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be off on a fragrant journey of discovery…
1: Start with what you love
Instead of plunging wildly into the dark and trying every random fragrance you see, it’s a good idea to base your sniff list on something you already know you love. Our Fragrance Finder is completely genius at this, and has recently been recommended by fragrance experts and Fume Chat podcast hosts Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley as the best place to start when looking for a new fragrance to suit you.
All you need do is type in the name of a scent you already adore (or one you know your beloved currntly wears) and you’ll be given an immediate list of six scents to seek out, all at various price points and with characteristics you’re extremely like to swoon for. Honestly, try it – they’re quite spookily accurate!
2: Give yourself time
Now clutching your shopping list of scents to try, we cannot urge you strongly enough to allow yourself the time to live with them on your skin a while before making a snap decision either way. First sniff? That’s the top notes – generally something citrus-y and ephemeral – which can disappear within the first few minutes of spraying because the ingredients evaporate more quickly.
We find an hour is enough to give you a proper sense of what the perfume smells like on you. And if you don’t want to douse yourself head-to-toe (why on earth not? But each to their own) then spray on a blotter or ‘spill’ (long paper strip) to get an idea. But remember – it will only be an idea of the final scent. They were made to be warmed and worn on your skin, not paper, so will often smell very different (and better) on you. And your mood/the weather/food can all drastically alter how a scent smells on you, so ideally, come back and try each one a couple of times.
3: Make note(s)
It’s incredible where your mind can take you when sniffing something gorgeous. Perfumes are created to carry us away to somewhere, so where are your six scents taking you? Close your eyes, inhale deeply and then ask yourself questions such as:
If this scent were a fabric, would it be velvet, suede, leather or linen?
What colour does the fragrance remind you of?
If the fragrance were a piece of music, what instrument would be playing?
How does it make you feel? Happy, excited, relaxed, romantic…?
These are all questions we ask people at our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops (keep an eye on these, we shall be adding new workshops for 2020 as soon as we can), and are based on techniques shared with us by the world’s top perfumers; but the more you make yourself think along these lines, the greater connection you’ll have to any fragrance you try.
Of course we’re aware that not everyone happens to live near a perfumery with a wide selection of names available, and sometimes it’s good to go for something entirely new – a fragrance you might have walked on by and never sniffed, believing it ‘just wasn’t your type of thing.’ We cannot tell you how many fabulous new fragrances we’ve found this way. And that’s why we offer The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes – curated collections of try-at-home samples and mini/travel sizes, along with some other gorgeous scented treats – all with links to instructive descriptions of the fragrances to help you follow the trail of each one you’re smelling. What’s more, we dedicate pages to each fragrance house, detailing their history, the faces behind the fragrances and their inspirations, so you can choose to explore more from them if you wish.
A great place to start is with our Launches we Love Discovery Box. We’re always asked: ‘Which new fragrances are you most excited about, and where can I go to smell them?’ We’ve put in the nose-work for you, gathering together the latest Launches We Love – with OVERA DOZEN FRAGRANCES to discover, there is truly something for everyone to fall for…
As well as our hand-picked selections, we also offer an ever-expanding range of Brand Boxes – try-me sets of samples that some of our favourite houses have put together, so that you can explore and experience several (or sometimes all!) the fragrances they produce. This gives you a great idea of their house style, and along with all of these tips, will give you a place to start narrowing down your search for that new scent – a perfume that’s truly perfect for you…
Well firstly, ‘hate’ is a very strong word. If you’ve been landed with the favourite fragrance of your current partner’s ex, we’re not going to pretend to make you suddenly adore it, so maybe re-gift that one – see tip #7 – and treat yourself to one of our Discovery Boxes of fragrant delights, and perhaps a new partner, instead?
But there are things you can try before you completely ditch a scent – we can’t tell you how many fragrance experts (ourselves included!) and even perfumers have drastically changed their minds about a fragrance by trying some of these top tips…
#1 – Seasonal changes
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 – you can easily decant some into one of the wonderful Travalo bottles we sell, just for this purpose!
– 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 plays 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. That’s when you can try to…
#2 – 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.
This is why we developed our so-popular How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops, regularly held in London and, sometimes at independent perfumeries around the UK (let us know if you’d like one near you!) We’ll be adding new dates soon, but if you can’t make it to one of these fun and fascinating afternoons, here are a few simple tips to try every day:
– Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably (you can buy books of blotters in our shop, if you need), 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 thinking ‘I don’t like this’ and focus instead on the mood it’s creating. Is it too deep or too fresh or floral for your personal taste? Give it time and then, if needed, move on to one of the tips, below…
#3 – Layer up!
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 layering 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 (see below or the added benefits of doing this…)
#4 – Boost the lasting-power
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…
#5 – 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 as above, 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 stuck with it on your skin all day.
Nope? Tried all that and still struggling? All is not lost, don’t give up yet…
#6 – Scent up your life
We all have certain scents or fragrant ingredients that, for one reason or another, we might not wish to wear but do like to smell if it’s scenting something else.
– Why not try spraying off-cuts of pretty wrapping paper or tissue paper, and using this to line your lingerie or sweater drawers?
– Or, how about being utterly fabulous by spraying your note paper and insides of envelopes (the fancy ones lined with tissue paper are particularly good for this), and writing a few actual letters or thank you cards to loved-ones you’ve not seen for a while. Everyone loves getting proper post!
– The truly decadent could try scenting table linen – again, PLEASE patch test, as above – for lavish dinner parties to rival Marie Antoinette – spraying on cotton wool and putting inside a deocrative ceramic or pottery vase, on wooden ornaments or ceramic discs you hang over radiators to scent the whole room as they heat.
We so hope you can find a way to try this poor perfume again and give it some love, but if all else fails and you still can’t bring yourself to use it, well at least you tried! Why not…
#7 – Have a perfume-swapping party / re-gift
Um, remembering not to invite the one who gave you that particular perfume… otherwise, major awks. Or, if you’re looking to re-gift, have a look at our brilliant Fragrance Finder. Simply put the name of the fragrance into the search box, and it’ll suggest six scents that are similar in character and style, or share a number of significant notes – this way you can see if anyone you know already has one of these, and it means they’ll very likely love to receive this one from you. Genius!
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