How to buy a fragrance for Valentines Day? Tips & tricks to make sure it’s one they’ll love

Valentines Day – love it or loathe it – is just around the corner, and it’s still the day that generates the most fragrance sales, peaking at 42% of all prestige beauty products sold. So if you’re thinking of splashing out on a scent for your significant other, follow our guide to ensuring success…

If you already know what they love

Great! Well done you. Why not have a look at matching products available, such as a gorgeously decadent bath oil, rich body cream or even a fragranced hair mist. It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of perfumes at this time of year, and if you really wanted to push the boat out – how wonderful it would be to book a couple of nights in a nice hotel or day spa trip, and add the ticket to the box of mini sizes in a golden envelope!

If you have no idea what they like

A pre-chosen selection box of scents showcasing a range of fragrances with differing styles is your saviour. First, think about their personality, their hobbies, the kind of books they see and films they love to watch.Then have a look at the list below and decide which category they most resemble. Then they can try them all home, taking time to choose their favourites from these stunningly packaged sets…

Are they more classic – all about the costumes dramas, historical biopics and adore touring museums? Choose Fragonard 10 x Eauc de Toilette Discovery Set £29

Are they arty & modern – always wanting to see the latest contemporary exhibitions and staying ahead of the fashion scene? Choose Tom Daxon Discovery Collection One £45

Are they a yoga lover – in to excercise as mindfulness, long walks or simply seeking inner peace and spirituality? Choose the Anima Vinci Discovery Set £15 (PS: It comes with a £15 voucher to buy a full size favourite!)

Are they a travel addict – keen to explore exotic climes, always seeking the sunshine and interested in sustainability? Choose the Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30

If you know what they usually wear, but they’d like something new

Well you’re off to a good start! Now all you need to do is type the name of that scent into our genius Fragrance Finder, and the clever algorithm – based on information we source directly from the fragrance houses and perfumers themselves – will suggest six new fragrances that, while different from the original you typed, share a similar mood, character or key ingredients.It really works!

If you just have no idea where to start

The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of fragrance houses, that way they can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of their own home, and most importantly, in their own time. Each box is carefully curated to include something for all tastes – so they’re bound to fall for one of these!

Once they’ve found ‘the one’ (or perhaps several) you can then buy a full size, safe in the knowledge they’ve already fallen for it. And we’ve something to suit everyone:

The Velvet Collection £12 comes with a full size chocolate bar from Green & Blacks (so you’re alreadyon to a winner), and features a sumptuously seductive range of new, niche and ‘indie’ scents to try.

The Day & Night Discovery Box £19 includes luminescent, sunshine-filled and lighter style fragrances suitable for any day, and a number of deeper, darker scents to spritz for romantic meals or a night on the town.

The Fragrance Wardrobe Discovery Box £19 is a bumper selection of fragrances from designer fashion houses and cult brands, with a stunning suits-all lipgloss and lovely Molton Brown mini included as extra surprises.

The Treat Yourself Discovery £19 lovingly soothes and delights with body-care treats from Aromatherapy Associates, and whole host of wonderful fragrances, with something from classic houses to new niche.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fern: 5 modern fougères forging the way

When science meets art, fireworks happen, and so it is in fragrance, with the question of ‘what should a man smell like?’ seemingly answered by perfumer Paul Parquet for Houbigant in 1882. The conclusion? A fern. Now, this once traditionally masculine smell is a hot topic in fragrances marketed to women or perceived as ‘gender fluid’, for those leafy ferns have come a long way…

The problem for Parquet was, ferns don’t exactly smell of anything much. His technological developments created a whole new fragrance family – fougère roughly translates to ‘fern-like’ – say it ‘foo-jair’, with the ‘j’ a little soft, almost ‘foo-shair’.

When you think of a fern, what smell comes to mind? Misty woodlands, verdant undergrowth still wet with morning dew, a sense of stillness and contemplation, leafy green shoots pushing their way through a forest floor? Whatever you imagine, that smell memory was originally encapsulated by Houbigant’s Fougère Royale – created in 1882 and much copied by those who clamoured to achieve a measure of its success.

Called the ‘greatest perfumer of his time’ by no less than Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel No. 5, Parquet can be said to have been the first perfumer to truly understand and appreciate the use of synthetic aroma materials in fragrance composition. First used as mere substitutes for naturally derived raw materials, Parquet saw a chance to use them as unique smells in their own right – alchemically poetic creations that sought not to mimic the natural world but to add to it – to improve on perfection. He was a fragrant revolutionary, and that revolution continues to this day.

So what did the traditional fougère consist of? Oak moss, geranium, bergamot, sometimes lavender and amber, and (most notably) synthetic coumarin form the main structure. But how many outside the industry would be able to describe coumarin’s smell?

Found in natural sources such as the toasted almond-esque tonka beans, the essential oils derived from cinnamon bark and the spicy cassia plant; coumarin cannot really said to be a sum of those parts. So what does it smell like?

Complexly layered, imagine the scent of sweet hay drying in the sunshine with a slight waft of warm horse; a cold glass of fizz sipped on newly mown grass, a fine cigar fresh from the humidor, even an unadulterated cookie dunked in warm milk – all of these things and not one in particular, truly something ‘other’ – the scientist’s hand working in harmony with the artful perfumer to amplify the magical realism in its synthetic form. The skill of the perfumer is to take these ingredients and transform them into something we think we already recognise – a swathe of leafy green ferns in a woodland setting, in this case – sparking scent memories and creating new ones to fill the gaps.

If you haven’t yet explored this fragrance family, now is the perfect time to begin. This in-between time of seasons, when we crave some freshness but still require depth and interest to the scents we choose, is ideal for seeking out something new to try, and that traditional structure has some interesting notes added for contemporary interest.

Here’s a selection of some more modern fougères – regardless of gender – to get your noses in touch with. Let your fragrant fougère journey begin…

Although classified as a leather (the clue’s in the name) MEMO actually describe this as ‘a frozen fougère’, and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s minus the oak moss (many moderns are) but features a whole host of frosted herbaceous greeness, with basil, rosemary, clary sage and mint amidst snow-covered drifts of ferns, pine needles, tonka bean and a deliciously dry, woody-leathered base.

Memo Paris Russian Leather £205 for 75ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

In this 100% natural perfume, Simone de Beauvoir’s novel is brought to life; the lingering scent of a questioning glance that shakes your soul, warm as a cat curling bare legs, shivering as the fur tickles. A composition of contrasts, we have geranium, basil and lemon rubbing up against Indonesian clove and nutmeg; a sticky patchouli slinking into the cool dryness of vetiver, with a lick of amber rich labdanum nuzzling oak moss and cedar to finish

Timothy Han Edition Perfumes She Came to Stay £120 for 60ml eau de parfum
timothyhanedition.com

Reminiscent of rifling through a forgotten cove of personal treasures, leather-bound diaries reveal sketches of ferns and dried flowers pressed between the pages, bundles of love letters are tied in faded silk ribbons, a lipstick kiss on a foxed mirror, silk scarves with a mingled scent of powder and the faint tang of a gentleman’s Cologne. Mint, lavender, juniper berries and black pepper are swathed in layers of rose and ylang ylang; curls of tobacco expiring into vanilla and cocoa.

4160 Tuesdays The Lion Cupboard from £50 for 30ml eau de parfum
4160tuesdays.com

Inspired by the river that runs through the heart of Keyneston Mill, where this UK house uniquely grow and distil many of the ingredients they use; this is a bare-foot meander through clover-strewn lawns, a budding freshness in the air signifying Spring. Squeezes of lemon and lime shot through with bergamot, mint and lemon-thyme are layered on herbaceously dry clary sage and soft orange flower, as an aromatically dreamy wisp of incense encircles oak moss in the langourous base.

Partere Run of the River £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
parterreatkeynestonmill.com

A bright young thing, in a gown too sheer to be decent, dances the night away at a discreetly riotous nightclub. Surrounded by velvet ropes, garlanded by blossoms, she sleeps until noon. Based on the traditional composition, it’s far from historic smelling – the geranium, oak moss, coumarin and bergamot are naughtily nudged in the ribs by a rather wanton orange blossom, given a shot of luminescent freshness with neroli and snuggled in a bosomy amber.

Mugler Fougère Furieuse £140 for 80ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Scent survival guide: what to do if a fragrance doesn’t suit you?

Did you take the plunge and blind-buy yourself a full size scent in the January sales, only to discover that it really isn’t ‘you’? Or perhaps you were gifted something over Christmas from a loved one who really should have put more thought into the scent they chose?

How to deal with the devastation can be difficult – social ettiquette suggests it’s best not to scream ‘what were you THINKING?!’ at the loved one, and if you’ve only yourself to blame, it’s even worse.

But do not deapair! We present our Scent Survival guide to try before the tears…

1: Are you sure you don’t like it?

This might sound like a silly question, but please don’t make any hasty decisons. Is it simply not your ‘usual’? The idea of a Signature Scent is a wee bit dated these days, plus did you know that after a while, your nose can get ‘used to’ a scent, and you won’t get that fragrant hit you once adored if you wear it every day.

A fragrance takes several hours to fully ‘develop’ on your skin: so many of us immediately discard them after the very first sniff! How about giving it a go on a few differing occasions, tracking its progress throughout the day? It’s only fair…

2: Layer up

It used to be considered a cardinal sin of the scent world, but in the past few years it’s a huge trend we’ve seen fully blossom. Try layering the scent with a differing fragranced body lotion (Top Tip: this also makes any fragrance last longer, as perfume disappears far faster on dry skin), or with one (or more!) other scents you already like.

You might create your own ‘bespoke’ blend and be pleasantly surprised…

3: Wear it well

The heat of your skin can drastically change the way a perfume smells, which is partly why not all scents smell the same on everyone, but how about wearing it a different way?

Spraying perfume on a scarf, or even in your hair, is a wonderful way of trying something new. Also, this tends to prolong the top and heart notes of a perfume, so if it’s the base or ‘dry down’ that’s putting you off, you’re on to a win-win…

4: Changes, changes

Are you aware the weather (along with our mood and even what we’ve eaten several days previous to trying a scent) can hugely alter the way we perceive a perfume?

Cold weather will prolong the top and heart notes on your skin, with warmer days meaning the fragrance will ‘bloom’ (journey through all the notes) on your skin much more quickly. We’re always thrilled to discover something we thought we didn’t like in winter becomes the hit of the summer. There’s still hope…

5: Do some research… and treat yourself!

Look up your favourite fragrance on our genius Find a Fragrance tool, known as FR.eD for short, and you’ll be given several suggestions of other perfumes you’re bound to like. We’re sorry your gift-giver didn’t get it right, but life is too short for perfumes to be gathering dust.

Or why not just re-gift the mistake and treat yourself to something new? Check out our fantastic sale to explore a whole wardrobe of perfumes from the comfort of your own home, and in try-me sizes that mean you can luxuriate in the scents for a few days, to really make sure you love them…

By Suzy Nightingale

Oil’s well that ends well… 5 fragranced oils your body needs now

‘Our crimes would depair, if they were not cherished by our virtues’ says Shakespeare in All’s Well That Ends Well; and so too will our bodies despair, if not cherished by fragranced oils in cold weather.

You will have to forgive the laboured punning, because I simply couldn’t resist, and it also happens to be true.

Winter takes its toll on our skin, so if you’re not slathering yourelf in something luxuriously moisturising, your fragrance simply wont last as long. Scent evaporates according to how dry your skin is, so if you’re closseted away in layers of wool and central-heating, your normal fragrance may need topping up throughout the day, even if it usually lasts well. And if it’s alcohol based – as most spray perfumes are – that’s going to dry your skin out even further.

Another temptation during grey, cold days is to soak for as long as possible in a steaming hot bath, but Jessica Weiser, from the New York Dermatology Group, explains, ‘Hot water depletes natural oils from the skin’s surface, leaving it dry and more susceptible to conditions like eczema,’ Best practice is to only use lukewarm water but really, where’s the fun in that? Personally I like to semi-boil myself like a lobster – all the more appealing in a scented bath – so keep the water piping hot if you like, but try and limit your soaking time to ten minutes, Weiser advises.

Yes, that seems sensible. But I can tell you now, that ain’t gonna happen, Jessica. If I’m putting in all the admin of running a bath, I’m going to be in there until I emerge like a perfumed prune. So we need a back-up plan to rehydrate. This is the time to reach for fabulously fragranced oils to layer-up your scent game, making it last longer and with the added benefit of de-pruning you, too.

Don’t worry about ‘matching’ your fragrance to these – use them instead to add facets to a favourite scent – or simply enjoy them on their own…

This is a perennial favourite, and sort of smells like paradise. Monoï is a Tahitian word simply meaning ‘scented oil’, and is made using a kind of enfleurage technique by soaking gardenia petals in coconut oil. Infused with further coconut and tropical wafts of frangipani flowers, Elemis have basically bottled the smell of a holiday in this multi-use product. Use in the bath, all over the body and even as a weekly hair treatment. The oil solidifies in cooler temperatures, so pop the bottle in a bowl of warm water to return it to a silky liquid – I just put my bottle right in the bath with me until it melts, and then baste myself as though I were a perfumed poussin.

Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil £38.50 for 100ml

For a truly indulgent scented experience, I cannot recommend Mandy Aftel’s body and hair elixir enough. Originally created as a bespoke fragrance for none other than Leonard Cohen, Ancient Resins resonates with frankincense, Balm of Gilead – not the republic in The Handmaid’s Tale, thank goodness, but the name of a balsam made from poplar buds, which smell like honeyed musk – along with benzoin, elemi, and labdanum: oils cherished for centuries for their healing properties. Boswellia Frankincense resins have been scientifically tested to prove their pain-relieving anti-inflammatory qualities, so couldn’t be more ideal for this time of year. A few drops used to scent a bath (will actually scent your entire house), slathered on to soothe and nourish skin, or stroked through ends of hair and rubbed in to burnish a beard – it would seem especially pertinent listening to Cohen’s album New Skin For The Old Ceremony while you annoint yourself with this divine oil.

Mandy Aftel Ancient Resins Body & Hair Elixir $45 for 50ml or $6 for 2ml sample (great for travelling)

A heftier price, yes, but the extravagent dose of Turkish rose will truly stay with you all day, infused as it is with a deeply fabulous patchouli heart and resting on a bed of sandalwood and frankincense. Clove, blackcurrant and raspberry ‘binds the perfume together for a final movement of symphonic femininity’ say Malle, but we know many men who delight in wearing the fragrance too, and this isn’t merely a pretty rose that blushes and swoons. All those resins add a purring depth that radiates naughtiness, albeit in a very refined way. I think the lady in question would be Lady Chatterley – admiring her roses and indulging in a bit of rumpy pumpy among the petals whenever possible. Sprinkle into a bath, massage into hair and cover with a warm towel for 15 minutes before rinsing, and be sure to lavish your limbs all over.

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady Hair & Body Oil £138 for 200ml

I really haven’t stopped wanging on about how wonderful SJP Stash is since the genderless ‘fragrance for humans’ was first launched in 2016, but now I can frolic in accompanying body and hair products like this oil – and a beautifully scented hair mist for lighter application – as well. There’s something about the composition of incense and vetiver infused with unexpected notes like sage, pistachio, grapefruit and warming black pepper, that makes it smell at least three times more expensive than it is, and about a million miles away from what you’d expect a ‘celebrity scent’ to smell like. It’s hard to find fault with either the original perfume or this nourishing treat, to wear together or used to add an ambery glow to fragrances you find a little bit “meh” on cold, grey days like these.

SJP Stash Hair & Body Oil £35 for 30ml

To mark Baccarat’s 250th anniversary, the niche house of MFK united with the iconic crystal house to create the fragrance – and it’s proved a smash-hit success all over the world. Now fans can cover themselves in the decadently rich oil as well – warm ambergris and cedarwood buoyed by the sunshine jasmine affords to balance and brighten this otherwise woody fragrance, with distinct undertones of caramelised brown sugar to my nose. Argan, sweet almond and apricot kernel oils have been used as the base, making this a gorgeously moisturising but never greasy oil. Perfect to spray on in a hurry just before dressing and dashing outdoors, it’s proving equally successful (with some department strores reporting waiting lists), so if you see a bottle and know you love the perfume already, my advice would be not to procrastinate…

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Scented Body Oil £75 for 70ml

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Eau dear what can the matter be? (How to spray away the blues)

In these darker days while we stumble through that twilight zone between the dog end of winter and the strat of spring (and with that, the hope of daylight or anything nice happening ever again), our spirits may need some manual help with lifting – and luckily for us, fragrance is one of the most direct ways of doing this.

For anyone who’s had a terrible day and reached for the bottle – the perfume bottle, that is – the answer is resoundingly in the affirmative. Little wafts of a favourite scent throughout the day can be a perfumed treat for you, or worn as a fragrant shield against the world in general. And now we have some research to back up those beliefs.

 

When you take a deep breath and inhale aroma molecules, they’re detected by the olfactory receptors in your nose and immediately stimulate some of the deepest, oldest parts of the brain – in ways that we’re only just starting to understand.

‘This process produces nerve impulses which travel to the limbic system, the part of the brain which is most concerned with survival, instincts and emotions. It’s thought by scientists the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region causes mood change by altering brain chemistry,’ says Christina Salcedas, of Aromatherapy Associates London. Our ability to smell ‘…is a window into parts of the brain related to core functions, like pleasure, emotion, and memory,’ agrees Jayant Pinto, MD, author of the study and an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at University of Chicago Medicine.

 

 

‘Pleasant ambient odors have also been found to enhance vigilance during a tedious task and improve performance on anagram and word completion tests’ reports scientificamerican.com, going on to explain that, conversely, ‘…the presence of a malodor reduced participants subjective judgments and lowered their tolerance for frustration. Participants in these studies also reported concordant mood changes. Thus,’ they conclude, ‘the observed behavioral responses are due to the effect that the ambient odors has on peoples mood’

 

 

Scent alters mood, mood increases creativity and productivity: it’s a win-win. But what exactly should you spritz to give yourself an olfactory boost for the spirit? I don’t necessarily want to reach for bottles of perfume I normally associate with winter – you know, those fragrances that seduce you into a state of langorously scented stulification, with rich, velvety florals swathed in spices and cosseted in cashmere. No, it’s time to be gently jolted a little, to kick-start your senses when your spirits are low, or whenever you just need a dose of extra sunshine in your life…

 

Still going strong since 1792, I’ve heard some wise French grandmothers advised leaving this in the fridge and splashing your breasts with it every morning, to tone and invigorate. Lemon, orange, dewy fresh rose and sandalwood oil combine with some sort of alchemy to take the heat out of a situation and ease the onset of a headache – particularly useful for those of us constantly tied to our computers. Did you know this is the only scent that Holly Golightly wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? In the mailbox of her apartment, she keeps her everyday essentials – a mirror, lipstick, and bottle of 4711. Quite right, too.

4711 Eau de Cologne Cool Stick £5.99 for 20ml
Buy it at Boots

A revolutionary fragrance and body treatment that was first launched in 1987, the invigorating aroma was unisex way before the word became trendy, and offers uplifting essences along with the promise of moisturising, firming and toning. Containing essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petit grain, ginseng and white tea, it leaves you feeling like you’ve just bounced out of a spa treatment (while avoiding awkward small-talk and the need to pre-wax your lady garden).

Clarins Eau Dynamisante £50 for 200ml Eau de Cologne
Buy it at clarins.co.uk


Abandon all thoughts of “grenade” in the sense of pulling a pin and hot-footing it in the opposite direction, for pomme grenade in French is what we know as “pomegranate”. An exotic melange of intensely fruity notes for a feeling of exuberant light-heartedness. Orange gets zesty with the mango-like davana, hypnotic neroli flowers fall like confetti on a base of vanilla – a scent now proven to calm startle reflexes and is being used to help patients undergo stressful sessions of chemotherapy in some hospitals. Spritz, breathe and dream, exotically.

Weleda Jardin de Vie Grenade £21.95 for 50ml eau naturelle parfumeé
Buy it at weleda.co.uk

Whisking you to the light-filled royal courtyards of Seville, bitter orange, sun-drenched bergamot and mandarin giggle into neroli and the cardamom-flecked, florist-shop freshness of galbanum; while ylang ylang is (unusually) found in the base, making for a giddily joyous landing. Wrapping cedar with flirty floral tendrils, the musky trail of sunshine-infused happiness surrounds you like a much-needed hug.

Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot £39 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

If you’re anything like me, you spend half your life searching for plug points to charge up whatever electronics you’re lugging around – if only our own batteries were boosted so simply. Consecutive days of not enough sleep and hectic lifestyles can really take it out of you, as can eating your own body-weight in dairy products, I have discovered. Book me in for a barrel-load, then, of crisply revivifying grapefruit, lemon & rosemary to help refresh and re-energise.

Neom Energy Burst £49 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at neomorganics.com

Sparkling fresh, this citrus scent with a rich floral heart is ‘perfect for spritzing any time your spirits need a boost,’ as they put it. It’s that sudden throwback to summer memories, a snapshot of yourself laughing while dancing in a garden, the fizz of Champagne bubbles still on your lips, a warm breeze swirling rose petals at your feet. Spray whenever you need reminding that better days will come again.

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1 £54 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at uk.lizearle.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Scenting the airwaves – perfume themed podcasts we recommend

Fragrance is filling the air(waves) right now, with a plethora of perfumed podcasts to catch up with – some fairly recently released episodes, and some other (for us) just-discovered gems.
At The Perfume Society, we’ve long held that the topic of fragrance and our sense of smell is perhaps at the point food and wine were not all that long ago: something the general public are waking up to as a valid subject to explore, enjoy and discuss in depth.

Perfect to download and enjoy while commuting, these will ease you gently from wearing pyjamas past midday while mainly eating a cheese and chocolate-based diet; or perhaps to to catch up with while chilling this weekend…

Fume Chat: The Filth Battle
Fellow ‘fumehead Katie Puckrik joins regular hosts, Thomas and Nick, to judge a battle of their perfume picks that smell nothing short of downright dirty. Our very favourite kind! You’ll come for the fragrances and stay for the banter.

The Conversation: Perfume Makers
How do you capture and bottle a scent? Two perfume makers from France and Malaysia talk to Kim Chakanetsa about how they’ve trained their noses to smell over 1,000 different raw ingredients.

What’s the Tee?
RuPaul and co-host Michelle Visage spend much of this episode discussing their love of perfume, with Michelle in particular proving to be well-up on her niche houses and with seemingly quite a collection. Such a pleasure to hear people be passionate about things they love, don’t you think?

Two Sense: Perfumer & Flavorist Podcast
Flavour and fragrance are inextricably linked, and indeed many perfume companies create for both sectors. Perfumer & Flavorist sit down with Ewan Morgan, national director of Diageo, to discuss what goes into crafting a quality whisky.

The Why Factor: Perfume
For centuries perfume has been used to show status and wealth and the global business is worth now worth tens of billions of dollars, so clearly fragrance is more popular than ever. Here the BBc’s Mike Williams talks to an historian and archaeologist about why we use perfume and what, exactly, it says about us.

Histories of the Unexpected: Perfume
Presenters Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell ‘argue’ that everything has a history (well, yes) here delving in to our favourite topic (obvs).

Making Scents: The Story of Perfume
Bridget Kendall and guests explore the modern history of perfume, including its flowering in France and the explosive chemical discoveries that helped to make fine fragrance what it is today.

The Pool: Perfume: A Century of Scents
Lizzie Ostrum (aka Odette Toilette) discusses her brilliant book, beginning with the story of CK One and how it came to epitomise the 1990s.

Stuff You Should Know: How Perfume Works
Josh and Chuck are the very laid-back and affable hosts who plunge into topics they previously knew little or nothing about, sharing their research with listeners. There are hundreds of episodes covering everything from corsets to cults, but of course we zoomed in on the perfume episode…

Do let us know if there are any more you’ve heard – we’re always on the lookout for further fragrant recommendations!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Panic perfume shopping? STOP! Use our easy Fragrance Finder…

You can see the look in their eyes – it’s always a giveaway – the frantic stare of the zombified scent shopper desperate to get SOMETHING, but not at all sure what that ‘something’ should be… STOP what you’re doing immediately, and use our super easy, astoundingly accurate, and completely free Fragrance Finder tool!

Retail assistants know the panic shopper’s look well. They rush in with that rabbit caught in headlights look, sometimes half-remembering names of things loved ones have hinted at, most often with very few clues as to what that person might actually want to wear.

But it’s all okay, honestly. Panic-shoppers, we have you covered!

All you need to know is the name of a perfume they already love. Based on this, our incredible Fragrance Finder will automatically suggest six other fragrances they should adore, and it’s genuinely brilliant for those wishing to find something new to fall head over heels for.

Perhaps they’re devastated a treasured perfume is now discontinued? We can help you find something to match their fragrance taste! Maybe they just want you to ‘surprise’ them? We’ll narrow down that otherwise endless search…

You see, it’s not one of those randomly generated or tenuously connected algorithms that just churns up what ‘Other Customers Have Purchased’. Ours is based on the input of hundreds of thousands of detailed descriptions of the fragrances in our extensive database – with suggestions for every budget, from pocket-friendly to ultra-luxe.

Why not have a look now, and see what our Fragrance Finder suggests for you…?

How to buy fragrance at Christmas?!

How to buy fragrance at Christmas? Where do you even begin? Well, right here with The Perfume Society‘s everything-one-click-away guide! From nervous noses to designer divas and scented gents, we’ve even got the perfect gift for overseas friends. Start (and finish!) your shopping right now…

When you’re not sure exactly what scent to get, or are sick of giving loved ones the same old thing, our overwhelming feedback from happy customers suggests a Discovery Box is definitely the way forward. Bursting with luxurious and often hard-to-find mini, try-me size scents and decadents beauty extras, each box is specially curated around a theme or with a particular kind of perfume-lover in mind.

At The Perfume Society, we’ve something to suit pretty much everyone, no matter how picky about perfume they are! From designer name divas to scented gents about town, millenials desperate to discover what suits them best and those keen to branch out with something different – get those pens ready and see how many gifts you can tick off your shopping list in one fell swoop (and all from the comfort of your sofa/desk/bed!)

Packed with even more new niche scents, there’s an incredible 13 fragrances curated, including a stunning 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, fragrantly evocative Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, perfumed provacteurs The Modernist, and the brilliant UK niche house of Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… Keep their complexions glowing (no matter how many nights were spent partying) with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense ANTI-AGING Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) – and ensure their hands smell and feel wonderful with the bestselling Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10). If you don’t know these names, we’re betting you AND your fragrance loving friends would love to discover them…

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

If you’re not sure what fragrances are currently in their collection, plump for some perfumes that only came out recently. With that in mind, we curated a selection of the newest and most exciting fragrances we’ve seen and smelled this year. It includes sunlit AERIN Hibiscus Palm, whisk-you-to-the-Riviera Tory Burch Bel Azur, and so-pretty Philosophy Amazing Grace Ballet Rose. If they prefer their scents darker and with more intrigue, they’ll love the Clive Christian duo – Chypre ‘L’ for Women and Ambrée-woody ‘L’ for Men. And they can also enjoy the sophisticated Lalique Noir Premier Illusion Captive, Shay & Blue Black Tulip, together with the new KENZO WORLD.

Latest Launches Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

Know someone who’s stressed, had a horrible year or just deserves some scented pampering? Invite them to take some time and indulge their senses with the glorious scents in this box. The perfume houses range from Amouage to Sana Jardin, Estée Lauder to Fragonard, together with duos from an exciting niche house called The Beautiful Mind Series and the ever-fabulous Miller Harris. We have also included some indulgent little extras to help them really unwind: a sumptuous Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields Hand Cream and from Aromatherapy Associates, Deep Relax and Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oils.

Treat Yourself Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

Is there a male in your life who’s stuck in a rut, and really needs to get their fragrance game together? Give them our most generous men’s collection to date, with sensational scents including Creed Viking (winner of The Fragrance Foundation‘s Best Male Fragrance 2018!), niche offerings from Nejma, Floris and Jack (Richard E. Grant’s fragrance line) and the new Shay & Blue King’s Wood, among this divine selection. Plus as a special treat, we are throwing in a FULL-SIZE Escentric Molecules 03 Body Wash (worth £20 alone!). With so many incredible fragrances to choose from, anyone will feel like a new man…

The New Man Discovery Box £19 /£15 for VIPs

Alas, due to postal restrictions (don’t get us started) we can’t ship our boxes overseas – and we’re as gutted as you are about it. BUT that doesn’t mean fragrance loving friends and family living outside the UK should miss out. We can now offer International Subscriptions to our multi-award-winning digital downloadable magazine, The Scented Letter.

We take full advantage of our privileged access to all the leading ‘noses’, perfume houses, latest launches, news, exclusive interviews and more to ensure The Scented Letter is your finger on the pulse-point of everything that’s happening in the scented world!

The Scented Letter Magazine International Subscription £20 for a full year

If they’re obsessed by fragrance and very possibly will need new shelving units from Santa, just to hold the scents they already own, why not welcome them to our world?! As a member of The Perfume Society VIP Club, they’ll receive the following exclusive benefits…

•  Six issues a year of our online/downloadable digital magazine The 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.

An exclusive monthly ‘insider offer’ – special offers from top-name fragrance houses, and ONLY for our VIPs.

•  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 them a FREE Discovery Box when you sign them up, from a number of options…

It’s the fragrant gift that keeps on giving for an entire year!

VIP Club Membership £25 for a full year

Still don’t know what to get them? Well, if you happen to know a fragrance they already like, type that name into our Fragrance Finder and you’ll be given suggestions of six other scents we think they’ll absolutely adore, with something for every budget… It’s sheer (almost spooky) genius!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Ruth Mastenbroek: A Working Nose

‘Scent is my life.’  Says perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek. Quite simply, she explains that ‘The fragrance is the essence of my art.  It is my signature…’

Ruth Mastenbroek was born in England and graduated with a Chemistry degree from Oxford University. Having trained in the late 70s and then worked as a perfumer in the UK and Netherlands with Naarden International (who later became Quest and is now Givaudan – one of the largest perfume suppliers in the world); Ruth worked in Japan and in the perfume capital Grasse before returning to England to work for a small compan. There she created fragrances for up-and-coming brands like Kenneth Turner and Jo Malone – including her now infamously successful Grapefruit candle. But finally Ruth knew she wanted to set up her own perfumery company, Fragosmic Ltd., in 2003 – the year she became president of The British Society of Perfumers.

In 2010 Ruth launched her capsule collection of scented products featuring her signature fragrance – RM – and also became the first to use the ground-breaking micro-encapsulation technology… in a scented bathrobe!

Ruth launched her second fragrance, Amorosa, in May 2012 at Les Senteurs in London. Her range is now sold in more than 25 exclusive shops in the UK, as well as in the Netherlands and Nigeria. Her fragrances are astonishingly well composed, but more than smelling beaituful, they capture whole worlds and stories in every bottle.

We’re thrilled to be stocking this incredible discovery set of fragrances in the Ruth Mastenbroek Collection for you to try at home. From the smoulderingly sensual to the classically chic, with sunshine, smoky green unisex to travel memories and joyous moments captured in every bottle, we truly believe there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Why not treat yourself (or a loved one) to a whole new world of exploration…?

Ruth Mastenbroek Collection £17.95 for 4 x 2ml eau de parfum

Ruth has long been a friend of The Perfume Society, so we thought it was about time we caught up with her and found out exactly how she goes about making her fragrances, as part of our series of exclusive interviews with perfumers, called The Working Nose

Is there any such thing as an average day for you? What’s your routine?

Ruth Mastenbroek: It’s not quite as rigid as that. What tends to happen is that I get ideas overnight, and then I can try them out in the lab the next morning. I do enjoy writing out my formulas then, and feeling that then I’ve got the rest of the day to work through them. The way that I like to work has evolved over time. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make a chypre, and the basic structure, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it – there was a lot of trial and error and going back and forth between versions, but eventually I did get there with Signature.

With Amorosa, I knew I wanted to create a tuberose fragrance, because it was so incredibly different from what I’d done, so I wanted to explore. But it had to have something else, which became the ambery woody part of it. With Oxford and Firedance I had a starting point, but then I’d take a chunk out and try something else, to see how that affected the performance and character. It’s not as though I know exactly what’s going to happen when I put two things together. Obviously after forty years I know a lot, I have the experience, but you can never absolutely be sure until it’s done!

Do you keep a notebook with you to collect ideas – how do you keep a track of everything you imagine?

Well it honestly tends to be all in my head, the ideas are very vivid and I like to start working on them immediately, but over the years I’ve made so many different formulas, it’s all written down and I keep a note of every single addition or subtraction I experiment with. That way you have this back catalogue of things that you might not have a use for immediately, but which you know will prove vital at some point! My daughter thinks it’s hilarious that I still write everything down by hand. I still make a note of everything on the computer, but I prefer writing by hand. I do tend to have a lot of Postit notes around, scraps of paper with things that have occurred to me – an unusual combination that worked surprisingly well.

Are you inspired by pictures, textures or sounds at all?

For me it’s a very visual thing – I know some perfumers are synaesthetic and also inspired by sounds, and I can imagine that being very creative working with music, but I see them visually. I think of them texturally, too – very touchy-feely. When I think about my fragrances this way I can then sense what else I need to add to extend that feeling.

Do you need to work in complete quiet – do you shut yourself away when you’re working?

I very much prefer to be alone. I love working and creating on my own. Working from home a lot of the time I can do that. If you’re in a bigger office it’s much harder to do that, but I will always go and find a room where I can go and have some solitude. Otherwise there are too many distractions. I mean, sometimes it’s nice to be distracted, but I like to work methodically through something and just get it done.

When you’re composing a fragrance, are you strict about keeping everything very neutral around you? So not wearing any scented products at all?

Oh yes, you have to really. I mean you end up trying them on your skin of course, because you need to know how they perform, but other scents are very intrusive. Actually, I had one moment that really awkward – I was working for a company where they invited several perfumers to on a day trip to a bluebell wood, with the idea that each perfumer would then create a fragrance based on their personal impressions of it. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of wearing a sweater I’d worn previously had perfume on it. I just didn’t think. But when everything else is un-fragranced (and everyone else there!), boy do you become hyper aware of it. I learned my lesson that day.

What do you think of the rise in self-taught niche perfumers? Do you think it’s a shame they aren’t being trained in that strict way you were?

I think it opens up other routes. But, from what I understand, those who are self-taught are learning about ingredients they can get hold of. And actually that becomes a very limited palette. Whereas, because I had the great fortune to work for a big company, I had access to thousands of materials and had to learn them inside out. On the other hand, Im sure it’s making them really consider what they’re using and how they use it, because they don’t have that luxury. I am a great believer in training, but there just aren’t the places or opportunities for everyone to train the way I did. I guess I’m just glad I did it, you know, a hundred-million years ago, and so I can now rely on that breadth of knowledge and experience. Because in the end, that’s what colours every single fragrance I create…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

How to build a fragrance wardrobe – we’ve all the tools right here!

How to build your fragrance wardrobe is a bit like beginning to put together one of those ‘capsule wardrobes’ you see lauded in magazines. You need to know what suits you, those that work for specific roles in your life, and then ‘wild card’ pieces you’d perhaps never imagined but somehow express your inner soul.

Easier said than done, right? And a bit daunting. But it really doesn’t have to be.

A lot of us get stuck in the elusive search for a ‘signature scent’ – something that’s befuddled many an otherwise perfectly level-headed person – which had to be your one true love meeting your every need, match your every mood and mark you out as unique.

A wardrobe of fragrances caters to your many moods (hopefully you have more than one!) the multitude occasions and roles we play: colleague / friend / sibling / child / parent / lover – the list goes on… Have a read of the tips below, and let the fragrance wardrobe building begin…

 

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Just as jeans and a white shirt are a great fashion basic, but may not be deemed acceptable for a high-powered meeting or a glitzy party; one solitary perfume is unlikely to express every facet of your personality. Moreover, perfume should be fun – a hushed whisper of intriguing hints at your personality rather than a name tag sewn to a uniform.

You don’t need to know a lot about fragrance to begin: try typing the name of one you love into our Find a Fragrance tool – it will suggest six others to try.

Do some research online and find out name of the nose who made perfumes you already like – it’s an excellent starting point in your quest for tentatively branching out. Just as fashion designers have a signature cut, many perfumers stamp their mark in the scents they create.

Never imagine you know exactly which notes you love and hate. For many years I laboured under the misapprehension that I simply could not abide rose in any form; but several of my favourites contain rose – it all depends on the quality, quantity and how it’s are used.

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When trying something completely new, allow yourself to fall under the spell of the smell alone, without heeding the notes. Focus on how it makes you feel, the images it conjures. Where does it take you? What outfit would you pair with it? What’s the material / colour / texture?

Throw a Bring a Bottle perfume garden party for your friends, get everyone to bring fragrances – especially those languishing on dusty shelves – and a number of samples for you all to smell. Try them, swap them, critique them – surprise yourselves. Be brave!

With all this in mind, if you still need a starting point, it’s a good idea to try some differing types of fragrances from various houses / style of perfumer. Discovery Boxes and Brand Discovery Sets are ideal for this. You might surprise yourself! Then you’ll start to see the gaps in your collection and discover which you need in your new Fragrance Wardrobe…

Written by Suzy Nightingale