How do find the ‘true you’ and know if a fragrance suits you? This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get at PSHQ, and to be honest, it’s one of the reasons we launched (incredibly, nine years ago, now!)
One of the the best ways to really tap into that ‘true you’ and discover what you need from a fragrance on any given day is how it resonates with you – how it makes you feel, not just what it smells like.
From childhood, we are all conditioned to have individual smell preferences, and our response is based partly on our individual genetic make-up (our DNA), and partly on our life experiences. So: that crushed tomato leaf note that reminds you of a beloved grandmother and her greenhouse – or the jasmine that was growing round a door when you were poorly on holiday, and which you can hardly stomach. Technically, we all have an ‘olfactory fingerprint’, which is unique to us: it is our life’s experiences all locked away in our smell memory. In the same way that we each respond differently to different smells, we don’t all like the same pictures, or the same music. (And wouldn’t life be boring, if we did…?)
Your physical make-up can have an impact, but there are many, many exceptions… Please remember this is a very broad rule-of-thumb, and can also change with hormone levels…
- Blondes with fair skin may find they are happiest with rich florals, as their skin may have a tendency to dryness, and subtle/citrus fragrances will evaporate quickly.
- Brunettes / black hair often have medium/dark skin which tends to contain higher levels of natural oils, allowing scents to last longer; they may find Ambreés (deeper, more resinous) notes work well.
- Redheads tend to have fair and delicate skin, and sometimes this turns out to be incompatible with perfumes dominated by green notes.
How to Find a Fragrance You Like:
We’ve previously published a piece on how to find a fragrance, where you will find all the tips and tricks you need to get your hands (and nose) on a selection of scents
But… Does it Suit Me?
Ask yourself this question, only, at first: Do you really like it? If so, then yes! We can never hope to please everyone with our scent choices, so our advice is, don’t even try.
Sometimes, though, when people ask this question it’s because the fragrance is out of their comfort zone. It’s completely true that some fragrances – particularly the bolder or more complex and unusual ones – can take longer to fall in love with. The most important thing is to give fragrances TIME on your skin – not just one spray on one day, then walking away if it doesn’t immediately grab you.
If you’ve smelled the scent on your skin on more than one occasion and you’re still not sure, make sure you check our tips to try before you write it off as a definite ‘no’.
Other times, people ask this question if they simply can’t smell a fragrance on themselves very strongly. This might be because you’re ‘anosmic’ (unable to smell) some of the notes. This can happen with large molecule notes (like musk), and amazingly, scientists currently still don’t know why we can smell some things but not others. Or, it might be because you’re so used to smelling the same ‘signature’ scent that your nose has ‘switched off’, and doesn’t register it anymore.
The best way to find the ‘true you’ with fragrance…
…is to try several – try scents you’d never normally consider wearing, even those that feel so different they might be a little challenging at first. That’s why we started doing our Discovery Boxes nine years ago, and so love curating them to this day!
Really get to know the new fragrance samples – and yourself – by considering what it is you do or do not like about them. It’s just as useful to learn what we dislike, at times, rather than sticking with something safe but dull. Do you wish they were brighter, lasted longer, were bolder, smoother, softer…? Now you know a little of what you need, what the ‘true you’ requires, and you can ask an assistant in store, or search for those key words online.
It’s a starting point, and the beginning of a wonderful journey. Next, you might have learned of a brand you’d like to explore more of. And then you’re already in the midst of a wonderful journey…
Written by Suzy Nightingale