How to shop for men’s fragrances

Can your father still wear, with no shame, the same jeans he was wearing aged 17? We’re hardly ones to judge, but we’re betting most could not – and even if they could, that it would be really quite inadvisable for them to do so. With this in mind, why, then, do some poor chaps keep getting given the same old scent they’ve been using since they were first shaving?

We’ll be live un-boxing a brand new, specially curated selection of fragrances aimed at men today at 3pm GMT on Instagram. Join us for all sorts of ideas, tips and scented discussion, or catch-up later by watching our Insta Stories, saved for the next 24 hours. Until then (or afterwards, of course), read on for our guide to shopping for men’s fragrances…

It’s entirely wrong to stereotype, of course, and we happen to know many men voraciously read-up on and try all the latest launches, and are comfortable with owning a wardrobe of scent choices for every olfactory whim. But we’re not talking about them. We’re reaching out to the partners and loved ones of gentlemen who are firmly stuck in a fragrance rut. How do you drag [sorry, ease…] them out of it?

If you’re a bit lost and don’t know where to begin, follow our handy tips when fragrance shopping for a man (who perhaps doesn’t even know he needs to be fragrance-shopped-for).

First of all, what type of a chap are you buying for? Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the ‘splash it all over’ one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘masculine’ and ‘gender fluid’ fragrances that fit all the fragrance family categories, and so men are offered opulent orientals along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.

But where to begin?

We have put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of masculine fragrances. Our latest, The New Man Discovery Box, is a mere £19 (VIP price £15) for the biggest bumper-load yet: thirteen new, niche, designer and classic-house fragrance samples, PLUS a full-size scented shower gel (worth £20 alone!) and a generous fragranced shave gel.

So, why not get him The New Man Discovery Box as an initial gift, and offer to buy the full-size fragrance he most likes? You could even make an afternoon of it, going through the steps, below, with him (or point him at this page) until he finds that new favourite…

And if you’re a chap who wants to delve into the world of fragrance more deeply, why leave it to chance? Treat yourself!

– Try the fragrance on a blotter (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these should be available on perfume counters – and when you buy a Discovery Box from this site, you’ll find a handy pack of blotters already inside.

– Write the name of the fragrance on the blotter, otherwise you’ll definitely forget it, later (and chances are, that one’s bound to be the best!)

– Wait a few minutes for the initial alcohol and the top notes to subside – a lot of people take huge whiffs immediately and then complain ‘it smells of alcohol/hairspray!’ Let it dry a little, first. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and which are crucial.

– You really need to smell a scent on your skin! Remember: blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibilities, but they’re not really enough to base a perfume purchase on. We’ve lost count of the number of scents that didn’t particularly appeal at first-sniff, but which a few minutes/hours later we realised we adored. Fragrances are made to be worn on and warmed by skin, not paper…

– Ideally, try no more than two at a time on the skin – one on each wrist. We don’t believe fragrance-shopping should be rushed, but we all live busy lives. You can try one more, on the inside of an elbow – the elbows also happen to be good pulse-points.

– Try to live with a fragrance for several hours, or better still, a whole day/evening) before you part with your cash. That might mean getting a sample, if it’s available in store (or exploring the Fragrance Discovery Boxes). Try to wear the scent more than once if you’re properly testing it: mood, weather and what you’ve eaten can all seriously change how a fragrance works on your skin, and how you feel about it.

– Spray a darker-coloured scarf or inside of a jacket lining, too, and sniff it later. That way, it still warms with your body heat, but you’re not everwhelmed by it. And you can take it off!

Book a fragrance consultation if you’d really like to make a special occasion of it. Many fragrance houses and department stores now offer this service, some of them are completely free and others you have to pay for (but it’s usually redeemable against purchase). Have a look at our round-up of some of these services; we originally wrote it for people wanting wedding fragrance consultations, but it applies whatever the occasion!

When you’ve fallen in love, only then go back and make your purchase – or flag-up to loved ones which ones you liked most, so they know for future gift-worthy occasions…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

How to choose your perfect wedding fragrance…

The flags are flying, excitement is mounting, and everyone in the fragrance world is wondering which fragrances HRH Harry and (soon-to-be HRH) Meghan have chosen for their wedding…

But a more pertient question is to ask: how on earth should you go about choosing the perfect scent for your ‘big day’ (or any special occasion) anyway?

Follow our guide to choosing his and/or her scents to create an olfactory memory that will last a lifetime…

– It’s vital to live with a fragrance for several hours (better still – an entire day) on your skin. That scent you spritz and immediately fall for may turn into something less than loveable as the notes develop.

– The very best way to try is in the comfort of your own home, with zero pressure, scroll down to our hand-picked selection of samples for you try, below (they’re perfect for bridesmaids gifts and wedding favours, too!)

– Try not to test more than a few fragrances at one time, because too many at once = a muddle (and you’ll likely forget which is which, anyway!)

– Following on from the previous point, when testing a fragrance, be sure to write down the name of it on a blotter or jot down on your phone. By the time you get home a pile of random bits of scented paper will mean nothing to you!

Scared to branch out? Type the name of a fragrance you already know you love into our Fragrance Finder, and we’ll immediately suggest six new scents we think you’ll fall for!

Don’t know where to start? Book a bespoke fragrance consultation as a couple (or on your own if you prefer) – we’ve listed seven scent sittings for you try, and many are completely free, so what do you have to lose?

– When you find a fragrance you love, consider following the fragrant theme through to your floral arrangements, colours, mini-versions (to give as bridesmaid gifts or wedding favours), and matching scented candles to use for table decorations…

If you can’t indulge yourself while choosing a wedding scent, when can you? Take time to sit back and explore these fabulous fragrance selections we’ve specially curated – bringing you an extensive range from cult niche houses to luxury designer, with iconic classics and a few scented treats to enjoy along the journey…

The whispered breeze of Amouage Beach Hut is perfect for seaside weddings, while Sana Jardin Berber Blonde will whisk you to more exotic shores.

Fragonard Verveine will sparkle the whole day through and Estée Lauder Modern Muse Nuit is ideal to smoulder softly as dusk falls.

The Beautiful Mind Series duo celebrate intelligent, creative and inspirational women, as two perfumers for Miller Harris Tender and Scherzo uniquely interpret F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.

Indulgent are here to help de-stress with : a sumptuous Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields Hand Cream (don’t forget those hands will be photographed close-up and on show all day, so pop this perfectly sized nourishing and relaxing cream in your pocket!) and from Aromatherapy Associates, Deep Relax and Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oils. Much needed, we sense…

Treat Yourself Discovery Box £19 (VIP price £15)

An utterly delectable range of new fragrances, recently launched by founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, this stunning portfolio of perfumes reflect her life-long love of fragrance – nurtured on travels through the Middle East with her inspirational grandmother. A box of delights to discover for nomads, free-spirits and all those who love clasically composed yet contemporary scents. Close your eyes and bask in these…

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.

Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30

An entire wardrobe of masculine fragrances for him to try before he buys (and for you to approve, perhaps?) there’s a wealth of choices from fresh and reviving, crisply stylish, designer favourites to ultra-luxe new houses to discover, and a FULL-SIZE face wash by cult male grooming brand, Heath! Also great for gifting to the Best Man or splitting in to wedding favours for hard-to-buy-for male guests…

Cartier L’Envol Sunshine diffused through golden droplets of amber, a canopy of forest trees with resinous, woody depth. Perfect for outdoorsy types and nature-lovers.

Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 Not only for football fans, a spritz echoing that first sip of whiskey, or sinking gladly into your favourite leather armchair in a gentleman’s club.

Coach For Men Thirst-quenchingly green with citrus enhanced by a herbaceous waft of coriander, sensuous geranium, fragrant cardamom and softly suede dry-down.

Dunhill Racing A nod to heritage gentlemen’s fragrances: citrus, lavender, pepper and musk, but a juicy twist of grapefruit, orange blossom and guaiac wood set this scent apart.

Ferrari Man in Red Thrill-seekers with a softer side should reach for a fruity-spiced opening, golden plum entwined with orange blossom and soothed by lavender.

Jaguar Black Chromite A flash of just-peeled mandarin, crisp tartness of green apple and a background of incense and patchouli add mystery and sophistication to the journey.

Jovoy Private Label Originally made for a client who just happened to be an Arabian prince, this one will have all and sundry swooning when they smell the woody, musky trail…

Kenneth Cole Mankind Nuzzle-up to succulently juicy fresh pineapple warmed by ginger and cardamom, tarragon and cinnamon enveloping vetiver on a greenly mossy base.

Missoni Parfum Pour Homme Head-clearing lemon leaves and pomelo dress up fougère notes of lavender, jasmine and herbs to a stylishly snugglish finish. A new go-to. (With matching shave balm & shower gel!)

Vince Camuto Homme Citrus and juniper = G&T, with Italian fennel, blue cypress and balmy lavender to soothe the nerves while taking a walk in the cool of the spruce trees.

For Him Discovery Box £19 (VIP price £15)

For the ultimate in luxurious was to try a selection of fragrances – these don’t just look pretty (perfectly presented in a vintage hatbox-style gift box), all the Valeur Absolue scents were created specifically to evoke particular feelings. Featuring an incredible seven 14ml bottles, each flacon has semi-precious gems to further enhance the perfume’s emotion. And if you can’t quite stretch to the full collection, we suggest putting this on your Wedding List to enjoy exploring together long after the confetti has blown away!

Harmonie Takes you to a safe and invigorating place, serene and welcoming: a world of absolute harmony.

Confiance Offers intense and comforting aromas, from the tones of Bourbon vanilla and cedarwood.

Vitalité Develops around citrus and acerola: bold and resolutely optimistic.

Joie-Éclat Gets it spirit-uplifting power from essential oils of Florida grapefruit and Haitian vetiver.

Sérénitude Creates the essence of an empty beach, via floral and woody tones.

Sensualité Embodies the sensuality of a serene, beautiful and self-assured woman.

Rouge Passion Is a floriental with enchanting tonalities – alive, seductive and radiant.

Valeur Absolue Deluxe Coffret £112

Whichever fragrances you plump for, we wish you all the best of luck and a lifetime of happiness with The One (your other-half and the scents you fell for), and hope our guide has helped settle any scent-choosing anxieties!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

7 wedding fragrance consultations: in-store & online

Picking a new perfume can be difficult enough at the best of times, but for your wedding day? That’s piling on the pressure!

Whichever scent you select, this will forever remind you of the day, a scented memory to treasure forever, and we know many couples don’t just want to wear the same ol’ fragrance they wear every day. After all, you’re unlikely to be rocking up to the chapel in whatever outfit you happened to find on the floor that day (we hope!) so why would your scent be a second thought?

But where to begin?

Firstly, here are some questions to ask yourself

What’s the style of your dress and theme of the wedding? Relaxed, formal, opulent, casual, classic, modern…? The style of your fragrance should fit comfortably with the occasion.

Is there an overall colour-theme for the wedding and celebrations afterwards? Colour can be a great guide to which fragrances you might be drawn to. Pale feature colours are unlikely to fit with a decadent, oriental style scent and vice-versa.

What flowers will be in your bouquet or decorating the venue, and are they fragranced or unscented? A strongly scented set of floral arrangements could fight with a fragrance that’s wildly different (and we definitely don’t want fights on a wedding day!)

Are there types of fragrances you already love? Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to branch out – take our Find Your Next Fragrance test online to see where to begin looking. All you need to know is the name of a fragrance you already love, and we’ll suggest six other fragrances that you’re bound to find something wonderful within…

We’ll be suggesting some ideal scents for brides and grooms to try later in the week, but for now we’ve rounded-up a selection of some of the best fragrance profiling sessions around, so read on to see which sounds best for you (or try them all!)

These are specialised boutiques that offer an expert consultant to help guide you through the myriad of scents of offer, who will sit with you, ask a number of questions and help you work out exactly which one is best for you. A fantastic service at any time, for a big occasion it’s a life-saver, giving you the time and space to really find that special day’s perfect scent…

Atkinsons Wedding Fragrance Consultations 

If the newlywed Queen Victoria was honoured by Atkinsons with her very own Nuptial Bouquet*, then why not embrace your inner highness with an equally majestic scent for your wedding day? Atkinsons London welcomes brides and grooms-to-be in store for a range of fabulous services.

Their flagship team at their incredibly beautiful 41 Burlington Arcade boutique, will firstly take you through a bespoke experience to match you with your ideal perfume for your perfect day. We’re told this results in a fragrance for life. Their perfume profiling is a truly memorable experience; thorough, in-depth and one that speaks to the soul – it comes highly recommended.

The service can further continue downstairs in their salon with a wedding day hair consultation from their uber-talented hairdresser, Umberto.

By appointment, please call 0207 998 6166 to book or email store@atkinsons1799.com

*Pictured – the original Atkinsons order form from Queen Victoria for her wedding day scent Nuptial Bouquet

atkinsons1799.com

Ormonde Jayne Made-to-Measure service

For those wanting to have a personal twist on the scent for their special day, we introduce to you; Ormonde Jayne’s Made to Measure service. A luxurious service offered in their newly refurbished, and rather beautiful, boutique in The Royal Arcade, off Old Bond Street.

The Made to Measure service allows brides-to-be to choose their favourite scent from the Ormonde Jayne collection, (you’ll be taken through them by one of their impeccably trained staff) and then have it re-poured with your desired oil concentration, allowing up to 42% (the average eau de parfum is between 15-25%). Expect impressive, powerful results and a scent that will last til the very end of your special day.

This is personalised even further by the option to engrave one’s initials, and perhaps the wedding date – a lovely touch – onto the cap or bottle. Followed finally by a beautiful gift-wrapping service.

And while you wait? Graze on heavenly chocolates (courtesy of their delicious neighbours Charbonnel & Walker), sip on champagne and daydream about what will be the most magical, memorable, day of your life.

By appointment only, call 0207 499 1100 to book. Ormonde Jayne, 12 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4SL

ormondejayne.com

Penhaligon’s Fragrance Profiling Session

Penhaligon’s offer this complimentary service in some of their standalone stores, which begin with being ushered into a private area and, over a refreshing tea (or perhaps some more-refreshing fizz) the consultant asking you some carefully thought-out questions by which to guide them into recommending several pairs of their fragrances to try.

Then, judging from your reaction (with both verbal and non-verbal cues, such as smiling, or paying attention to your eyebrows!) they discover the direction to explore together. A quick water break after five pairs of fragrances, to help cleanse the palate, options are refined down to finding the perfect perfume. Can’t make it to one of their boutiques? No problem, for Penhaligon’s have cleverly come up with online Profiling, and will even send you two samples from the selection of six selected as best for you (the cost of which they’ll deduct if you then go on to purchase a 100ml bottle).

Those who’ve taken part report that before the session, they thought they didn’t have any strong ideas about particular types of scents they were looking for, but by the end had formed a much clearer idea as to the best ones to look out for – so a service that’s helpful for the rest of your life, not only for a wedding day!

To book your own complimentary Fragrance Profiling consultation call your nearest Penhaligon’s store.

penhaligons.com

Floris London ‘Together’ Bespoke Fragrance Service

As part of their in-house bespoke perfumery service, ‘Together’ is a 3-hour appointment perfect for couples searching for truly unique scents, speacially composed with a Floris perfumer at at their flagship Floris boutique. Upon ordering online, ahead of the session you receive a beautifully presented gift box, including two bottles already engraved with your initials, as well as a guide to prepare you for your appointment.

Your session begins with a welcome from a member of the Floris family themselves, who will give you both a short overview of the company. Then, while you enjoy your glasses of champagne, your bespoke perfumer asks you to choose from a wide selection of fine fragrance bases, and throughout the appointment as you learn about fragrance creation (from the oldest privately owned family perfumers in the world), you will craft your scents with the introduction of new accords to complement your taste, until both your unique tailored fragrances are complete.

For peace of mind, your private record will be securely archived in the Floris ledgers for you and your future generations to reorder when required (which is completely delightful, don’t you think?) and repeat orders of 100ml bespoke fragrance can be ordered for £160 each.

£800 for 2 x 100ml bespoke fragrances. By appointment at Floris London, – order your engraved bottles online, and your session will take place at 89, Jermyn Street.

florislondon.com

Creed Fragrance Consultation

Offering you the chance to completely ‘immerse yourself in a world of unrivalled fragrance, coveted candles and rich bath and body care’ at the Creed Boutique, here you could find not only your perfect wedding fragrances, but matching scented products to give as bridesmaids gits or even to scent the tabels at your reception to continue the sensory theme.

Their exquisite lower ground floor offers a private and restful environment where guests can experience luxurious and bespoke fragrance consultations, uncovering their perfect signature scent for any occasion. The boutique’s team of highly-trained experts can accommodate almost any fragrance need, guiding guests through an impressive journey of scent discovery whilst enjoying a glass of Champagne. How civilised!

To book your bespoke consultation please contact The Creed Boutique, 99 Mount St, London W1K 2TF, call 0207 495 1795 or email enquiries@creedboutiquemayfair.com

creedfragrances.co.uk

Atelier Cologne Experience

At their utterly stunning (and so-colourful) Covent Garden boutique, Atelier Cologne offer an experience of a privileged moment for each client. Beginning with a bespoke perfume consultation, you’ll be introduced to each of the collections’ bestsellers, and from that discover your own personal ‘perfume wardrobe’. While spraying, the Perfume Artists tell the story that inspired the Cologne Absolue. ‘It is through this storytelling that customers’ imagination, memories and emotions are triggered, helping them make a final choice perfectly matching their personality and individual story.’

At the Atelier, the unique engraving workshop offers long-lasting Cologne lovers the chance to personalise their ‘keepsake’ travel spray. Clients can choose from more than 15 different colours of leather cases and have their name, initials or a short message engraved on the leather.

This bespoke customisation service is performed in front of each client by the Perfume Artists, in less than five minutes, using custom-made engraving machines. A perfect keepsake for your special day, something to keep forever and have re-filled time and again, and perhaps you can choose mini scents as bridesmaid gifts or the Groom’s Best Man while you’re at it?

The Atelier Cologne Experience is available at 11 The Market Building, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RB.

ateliercologne.com

Experimental Perfume Club Bespoke Workshop

During a three-hour session, you’ll create and perfect your own fragrance with one-to-one expert consultation along the way – exploring in detail a selection of 40 perfumery ingredients, you will be free to browse over two hundred from our lab to achieve your perfect blend.

Along the way, after answering a variety of insightful questions, you’ll find your ‘nose’ and leave with a stronger understanding of fragrance composition, what you like and you dislike and an enriched descriptive vocabulary for your sense of smell. This is a hands-on workshop where the full session is one-to-one with the perfumer at EPC, perfectly suitable for any level of experience and ideal for individuals, couples or private groups. They will tailor the workshop to whatever your needs are, so just ask!

After the workshop you’ll leave that day with a truly signature scent in the form of a 15ml lab bottle of your bespoke fragrance, as well as your perfume formula for future orders and a complimentary 50 ml Eau de Toilette, sent to you within 2 weeks.

£450 for one / £220 for additional participants (includes the first 50ml bottle of your fragrance, delivered two weeks after your workshop). To book, fill in the appointment request form online.

experimentalperfumeclub.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale and Carson Parkin-Fairley

Stuck for a gift? Follow our Galentines guide & treat yourself, too!

Here at The Perfume Society, we’re all about celebrating Galentines – it’s a word we first saw popping up last year, but do you know what it signifies?

Well, January seemed about seventy three days long, everyone we know has had (or is still recovering from) ‘flu and just about all of our gal-pals have been having a really difficult time of it, lately.

Feel the same?

We thought it was about time to treat ourselves to something nice – and to show our best gal-pals how much they mean to us (at what can be a very difficult time of year for those struggling with depression or just trying their best to keep on top of things!) So forget V-Day for a while and celebrate ‘Galentines’ with us.

Why not have a look through these top picks and see if there’s a sweet treat you could surprise someone special with, or give yourself something to look forward to? Showing someone you care, adding a simple note saying ‘hey there, thinking of you’ – and being kind to yourself – can mean a lot, and we think these would make great gift ideas or pick-me-up presents for any time of year…

REEK is the house to head for when seeking gifts for those perfume-loving pals who definitely want to stand out from the crowd. Proudly promoting positive body images for women (none of their photos are re-touched to make the models look unnaturally ‘perfect’) the fragrances celebrate rebellious women through history. Choose from Damn Rebel Bitches or Damn Rebel Witches (we’re loving the names, the ‘fumes and the attitude!) and celebrate the fact that for all orders over £50 between now and V-Day, they’ll throw in a free gift card and a free mini ‘Love Potion’ tote bag. Order this and some of their fab stickers to treat your best witch bitch!

REEK Witch Bitch Set £45 for 2 x 7.5ml eau de parfum
Buy it at reekperfume.com

As the old saying goes – if you don’t love yourself, who else will? Everyone deserves a little luxury now and again, and we believe our Treat Yourself Discovery Box is ideal for anyone (yourself included) who needs a little extra TLC right now. The power of perfume to transport you is well documented, so why not fly away on a fragrant cloud to the tranquillity of a deserted beach, a vista of Moroccan orange blossom trees, the fragrant imaginings of two perfumers’ translating literature into scents, a field of lavender and a ground-breaking house inspired by the most intelligent women in the world? And that doesn’t even nearly cover the treats in store! From cult niche to designer opulence, your ultimate escape beckons…

Treat Yourself Discovery Box from £15
Buy it from our online shop

Izia launched last year, and immediately scored a hit for those seeking a scent that straddles the gap ‘between pretty and impertinent” as Sisley put it. Rose but not as you know it, this manages to be both pretty and uplifting with a carefree, bohemian edge. To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Sisley turned to the rock-n-roll style of British artist Quentin Jones for a whole new spin on the packaging. This limited edition features fluorescent ink, rose collages and paint flecks for vibrant pops of colour contrasted with the luminescent, sparkling cheerfulness of that rosy juice. If you know a Sisley-addict (and there are many) or someone who adores rose perfumes but can’t abide dustiness, this is guaranteed to brighten their whole year.

Sisley Izia £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at houseoffraser.co.uk

When everything seems dark and gloomy, there’s nothing like lighting up your life with a box of perfume that’s simply bursting with exotic blossoms. Not sure what your friend’s favourite floral is, or want to branch-out and try some flower-filled scents for yourself? Cochine‘s discovery set is the perfect choice. A trio of fragrances inspired by the beautiful location of Saigon (where founder Kate Crofton-Atkins was tempted to move after quitting her high-powered beauty job in London – and who can blame her?) there’s the delights of White Jasmine & Gardenia, Vietnamese Rose & Delentii and Tuberose & Wild Fig to revel in. Great size for travelling or popping in your purse, too!

Cochine Floral Collection £35 for 3 x 8ml eau de parfum
Buy it from our online shop

Sarah Jessica Parker turned the world of celebrity fragrances on its head with the release of Stash, which converted many niche-only perfumistas into full-on fans of the scent. The second of the opus – Stash Unspoken – is an exquisitely werable plunge into prettiness with an edge, featuring pink peppercorns and the honeyed addictiveness of quince atop a floral heart that feels like twirling in a tulle gown: wisteria, honeysuckle and peony entwine with the rich almond-y muskiness of the base (and a hint of woozy booziness to reel you right in.) Fans of Sex and the City, fashion-mavens and fragrance lovers alike will thank you for this addition to their wardrobe, and at a very purse-friendly price.

SJP Stash Unspoken £25 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at superdrug.com

What if your gal-pal is miles away? We have a few best friends who live abroad and it can be really tricky sending presents via air-mail, so a great idea you can send and she can receive immediately is an International Online Subscription for our award-winning magazine dedicated to perfume: The Scented Letter. Solving a myriad last-minute present problems, it’s bursting with our reviews of all the latest launches your nose needs to know, exclusive interviews with the world’s best perfumers, full-length (and gorgeously illustrated) features on ingredients, the history of the perfume houses, trends and fascinating peeks behind-the-scenes. And the best bit? It’s eight 48-page digital editions a year, so really is the gift that keeps on giving!

The Scented Letter Magazine International Online Subscription £20

A lovely name for a really beautiful fragrance, Precious One is a bewitching blend of soaring fleur des nuits, tuberose and jasmine on the softest green chypre base of oak moss and layers of smoky vetiver swirling from the depths. Awarded Best New Independent Fragrance in 2012 by the Fragrance Foundation UK, Angela Flanders was the most wonderful British perfumer – a vibrant character who sadly passed away in 2016 – and this perfume was created for her daughter Kate Evans’s Precious boutique (also nearby in Spitalfields). A great way to to tell your friend how special they are to you, and now available in this handy travel-size.

Angela Flanders Precious One £28 for 10ml eau de parfum
Buy it from angelaflanders-perfumer.com

Okay so perhaps you can’t jet-off to Bali with your bestie, but how about arranging a weekend away or even a spa-day to enjoy together? We also suggest treating both of you to the Try Before You Fly Discovery Box (pssst! Grab it at the sale price while you can!) bulging even more than our handluggage usually is with all manner of scented delights. Close your eyes and think: tanned skin and flowers in your hair with soft bouquets from Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo and Barbour. Take in the sights of stylish Scandinavia with Agonist or sip espresso on the piazza with The Merchant of Venice, among the many specially curated scents in this selection. Have a look for some special last-minute deals to escape the gloom or book-ahead and dream of holidays to come…

Try Before You Fly Discovery Box from £10
Buy it from our online shop

There are few people who don’t appreciate the gift of a gloriously scented candle – and you don’t even have to know their favourite fragrances to pick one they’ll love (though we’d hope you at least know your best friend’s fave!) If you’re a trio of gal pals, why not have a splurge and treat all three of you to a Diptyque mini candle? This set features Baies – still their best selling candle – with its bouquet of roses and blackcurrant leaves, Figuier – comfortingly warm fig wood, the freshness of leaves and milky sap, and Roses – baskets of roses overflowing with abundance. Each mini candle is 70g and handily portable for travellers who crave their scented spaces. Which one would you choose?

Diptyque Mini Candles Set £65 for 3 x 70g candles (also avaiable separately and in other fragrances for £24)
Buy it at diptyqueparis.co.uk

Still searching for a gift?

If you know your friend’s favourite fragrance and want to treat them to something new (but are worried about getting something they don’t like) never fear! We have a genius solution. Simply type the name of their signature scent into our clever database, FR.eD (short for Fragrance Editor) and you’ll be given several suggestions based on fragrances with similar characters, shared notes or styles they’re bound to love. It really works! Give it a try, now, and find your perfect fragrance match

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Which perfume matches your personality for Valentine’s Day…?

Valentine’s day remains one of the hottest dates for the fragrance world – it’s the perfect time to be exchanging scented gifts with those we love – but with so many to choose from, where to begin?

Fragrances create life-long scent memories – the emotional response we feel way kicking in way before logic has time to register what we’re smelling – and so asking for your beloved to gift you a new scent when you’re in a relationship can be something of a rocky road. Ideally it needs to be something new to both of you. Have you (like us) ever rejected a potential date based on the love-interest favouring an ex’s scent. Or worse, a parent’s? *shudder*

The burning question is, though, do you ask for a specific scent (which can seem somewhat brazen if you’re not feeling that brave), hint your way to a hopeful present of ‘the right one’, or just cross your fingers and leave it to the Gods of fragrance fate?

Worry ye not, dear reader. We’ve got your back. Forward the potential gift-giver the link to this page (okay it’s not subtle, but since when did subtlety get you anywhere?) and ask the question: ‘which of these descriptions do you think sounds most like me…?’ You can put a winking emoji if you’re that way inclined – the somewhat less romantic modern equivalent of flirting with a flick of your lace fan. We’ll leave that up to you.

Oh and, spoilers: we happen to think all of these are pretty fabulous, so no matter which you’re given, it’s bound to please both of you…

A contemporary art-lover with an eye for style, you’re secretly (at heart) a romantic soul. Let yourself give in to the narcotic pleasures of indolic white flowers at play in this perfume – the heady narcissus and jasmine are beautifully blended and we just know you’ll want to keep breathing deeper and deeper until your nose can’t get enough. As for your lover…? They’re bound to be addicted, too. And when you’re not gazing gooily at each other and admiring the, um, base (the dry down’s an intriguing mixture of sumac and pipe tobacco), you can gaze in marvel at the gallery-esque bottle.

Map of the Heart Pink Heart £150 for 90ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com

Carefree and a bit of a bohemian, you’re generally positive, can charm the birds from the trees and probably love a bit of bunting. Given half the chance you’d be twirling barefoot through a garden at sunset in a gauzy gown, no matter the weather. Pretty as a picture, and smelling far more high-end than the price tag might suggest, this perfume from the Sweet Treats collection features a delicious lemon-drop top note, pepped up with ripe raspberry and blackcurrant atop a finger-lickingly good base of patchouli and golden amber.

Ted Baker Mia £18 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy it at tedbaker.com/uk

Unapologetically a girly-girl, you may be dreamy with your head in the clouds, but your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Young at heart no matter your age, we feel you’ll adore this tribute to one of our favourite flowers of all time: the shamelessly blowsy and short-lived peony, allowed to linger the whole day through, here perfectly blended with Sicilian lemon, pink berries, pink guava, and a softly powdered violet. Raspberry flower snuggles with creamy vanilla beans, pink cotton candy entwines itself around cedarwood, and laconic vetiver sits back and makes us swoon.

Floral Street Wonderland Peony £55 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at floralstreet.com

Sophisticated and refined but never ever prissy, you’re slightly obsessed with the natural world but wouldn’t ever call yourself a hippie (bit old-hat, darling.) Marking an incredible 20 years of Liz Earle goodies, the house collaborated with Grasse-based perfumer Domitille Bertier for a Damask rose-rich celebration in a bottle. Infused with a sparkle of pink pepper, bergamot and mandarin, it’s the intriguing carrot seed heart with jasmine and an amyris/sandalwood dry down that pulls you in for more and more… 87% derived from natural ingredients, too.
Plus Liz Earle have a wonderful offer on right now, when you purchase a 50ml fragrance from the range, you receive a complimentary 10ml fragrance of Botanical Essence Number 01, 15 or 09. 

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.20 £54 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at lizearle.com

Strong-willed and totally sensual, everything is an adventure for you – the world is your playground and you intend to live life to the full, perhaps with a love of classic movies, torch-songs and vintage chic. The ‘Edith’ in question here is right up your street – none other than the Parisian chanteuse herself: Édith Piaf. The fragrance itself pays homage to her sultry sophistication and the daring liveliness of the era, featuring rose, geranium (grown in their own British fields and a remarkably fabulous one, we must say!) you’ll thrill at the unexpected touch of lightly camphorous yarrow and dark patchouli for the smoothest kind of hip-wiggle in scent form…

Parterre A Tribute to Edith £120 for 50ml eau de pafum
Buy it at parterrekeynestonmill.com

Bookish but never boring, you’re tantalised by literary worlds you can escape to, drawn to the poetic side of life and the dramatically beguiling. Two perfumers created fragrances based on the the novel Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mathieu Nardin’s Scherzo an ode to the contrast between dark and light. Blood orange, davana and golden olibanum collide in a kaleidoscopic splash of wild, bright colour, while dark rose mingles in the shadows with patchouli and oudh. Bertrand Duchaufour offers ink swirled through leather, saffron and geranium on a flickering, amber-ish base. But it’s held aloft by the fizz of a pink pepper C02 extraction alongside aldehydes and the most incredible green hyacinth opening, shimmering to cyclamen, incense and a drily metallic base.

Miller Harris Tender/Scherzo £120 each for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy them at millerharris.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

They got you the ‘wrong perfume’? – Use our scent survival guide!

There is an etiquette to receiving a gift you’re really not sure about. Rule one is probably not to look them square in the eye and scream ‘WHAT were you THINKING?!’

But how to survive a present of The Wrong Perfume…? Save your screams and follow our guide before you ditch it or cause a scene!

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!

If all else fails, look up your favourite fragrance on our genius Fragrance Editor, 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!

Perhaps treat yourself to something new – and check out our fantastic sale to explore a whole wardrobe of perfumes from the comfort of your own home…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

5 fragrances that guarantee winter sunshine…

There are those who claim certain scents should only be worn in summer – the lighter, more citrus-laden ones for the most part – and that we should reserve the heavier, more opulent fragrances for our winter wardrobes. But is this once foregranted ‘fact’ still true…?
Certainly, in hot weather you may find your fragrance seems ‘stronger’ or more overpowering, the heat causing the notes to evolve on the skin more rapidly and bloom around you in fragrant waves.  This is exactly why brands sometimes offer lighter versions of their bestselling scents for the summer.  Indeed, some people prefer heavier more full-bodied, comforting, almost ‘cocooning’ scents in the winter – but again, this is completely individual.
Personally, at The Perfume Society, we do tend towards richer fragrances that we love to rediscover at around the time when we reach for our opaque tights, our socks (and vests!), switching to airier perfumes for the warmer months. But never let anyone tell you what perfume to wear and when – just do what feels right for you. We say: scent ‘rules’ are made to be broken, so just follow your nose…
We find winter is actually a perfect time to refresh your senses, and re-visit those scents you perhaps didn’t quite get on with in summer – cooler weather and damper climates makes your skin react completely differently, so why not try some fragrances you may have written-off forever?
While you’re at it – have a dig around in your collection for ‘spring fresh’ or ‘summer-y’ scents that you already love and see how differently they bloom on your skin at this time of year. Just as too much turkey and endless chocolates can have you yearning for a crisp salad, it’s good to go over to the light side for a change of scent-scene now and again.
Here’s our list of five transitional scents to try for a time-travelling experience out of your comfort zone. So, shake off those heavy layers and prepare to get zingy with some winter freshness…
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Zesty to the point of mouth-watering excess, the energising burst of crushed ripe fruit uses the darker extract of sweet blood orange juice juxtaposed against bitter orange peel and warming wafts of geranium for a feel-good cloud of happiness. Formulated to last far longer than traditional Colognes but losing none of their zippiness – hoorah!
Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine £49.50 for 30ml Cologne Absolue
Buy it at John Lewis
Ignore the grey skies, close your eyes and imagine the Provençal setting sun, still warm on your skin (move closer to the fire or add another layer of clothing, if necessary…)Aromatically fresh with the fizz of bergamot and pink pepper, the true heart of honey infused lavender is balanced by the milky acacia blossoms, the nuttiness of tonka beans and balsamic warmth of the earthier base.
L’Occitane Terre de Lumière Limited Edition bottle, £58 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at loccitane.com
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A lusciously fruity mixture of milky fig cut through with Turkish apricot and green tea for a deliciously refreshing blend that still feels nurturingly comforting. A wearable panna cotta with just enough wobble and topped with glistening slices of that succulent fruit – we have no doubt you’ll want to dive in.
Fresh Fig Apricot £76 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Harrods
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The tart, raspberry freshness of Turkish rose and the subtle woodiness of thorny stems enhanced by geranium melt slowly to a softly cushioned fuzziness of peonies and vibrant freesia, gently sprinkled with black pepper and drizzled with honey. Every bit as delicious as it sounds, it’s a ballerina dancing in a garden as the sun rises and blushes the sky the colour of her frothy tutu.
Aqua di Parma Peonia Nobile £78 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Selfridges
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Ripening tomatoes lovingly stroked in a greenhouse, sunlight glinting on frosty hedgerows and mint leaves floating in a pitcher of homemade lemonade – this enlivening scent whisks you to the home of the Mitchell family at Foxbury Farm. Sparkling citrus rubs shoulders with herbaceous greens and English flowers grown in their fields; drying down to the classically elegant combination of musk and cedar wood.
Mitchell and Peach English Leaf Fine Edition £55 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Roullier White
Written by Suzy Nightingale

These 5 tricks help your fragrance last longer…

Ever had a favourite perfume that just wont last on your skin? Find out why and follow our five tops tips, below, to make your scent stick around…
Why does my perfume ‘disappear’ so quickly?
From the moment you apply: the top notes, or ‘head’ notes last around 5-15  minutes before they disappear. Yet another reason why you should never judge a perfume as soon as you’ve sprayed! The middle (heart) notes last from two to four hours, and convey the main character of the fragrance. The base notes or “dry down” usually lasts from four to six hours.
Perfume likes to ‘cling’ to skin, so they tend to last far longer on oilier-complexioned people. The strength of the fragrance is also a factor, and so are the notes:  deep, smouldering base notes – the woods, resins, leather and tobacco etc. – are ‘heavier’ in structure, so evaporate more slowly. A citrus-fresh cologne will never last as long as an Oriental eau de parfum.
Perfume can last four to six hours (or even longer), depending on the strength of the juice you’re spritzing, how dry your skin is or even what the weather’s like – perfumes dissipate much faster on dry skins, or when the air is particularly dry. But what can you do if, even in winter, your scent is scarpering more quickly than you’d like?

How can I make my perfume last?
1 Use matching body products, if available, or unscented if not – it’s a beautiful way to ‘layer’ on your fragrance; body creams and body lotions, in particular, add emollients which hold perfume.  If these range extensions aren’t available, go for an unscented body cream, butter or lotion which won’t clash with your chosen scent. Think of it as a primer for perfume.
2 Switch to a stronger formulation. Eau de parfum, pure parfum and extrait are highly concentrated formulas that will smell stronger and last longer. They may be more expensive, but you can end up using far less. Win-win!

3 Try spraying your hair as well as your skin – though be careful if the perfume is dark in colour as you may unintentionally dye your hair! (Test on a tissue, first.) Hair is porous and will waft the scent even longer than on your skin in many cases.
4 Spritz a scarf with with scent and the heat of your body will make the fragrance bloom. Also a handy way to try a new fragrance you’re not sure of. Bored of it? Simply take the scarf off and try something else…
5 Remember that the nose becomes desensitised and quickly gets used to the notes of your perfume. Although you may not be able to smell it at all after 30-40 minutes, your friends and colleagues may still be able to, so maybe ask a friend if they can still smell it before dousing yourself again (tempting as we find it!)
Written by Suzy Nightingale

3 steps to finding your perfect perfume…

Shopping for a new scent – for yourself or as a gift for a loved one – can be a bit of a headache, in more ways than one. Just as the season’s change has us hankering for snuggly jumpers and fabulous new coats, so too do we need a change of fragrance to lift our moods occasionally. But 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: Let FR.eD be your guide
Short for ‘Fragrance Editor’, FR.eD is our completely genius virtual assistant. 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 (click the link to find when the next one near you is being held), 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.
If you follow these three simple steps, we’re pretty confident you’ll have found a brand new fragrance to fall in love with – or the perfect gift for that fussy friend.

The Perfume Society's Fashion, Fabric & Fragrance Discovery Box, a collection of fragrances that brings together niche and popular scents, each evoking textiles...
Fashion, Fabric & Fragrance Discovery Box, a collection of fragrances that brings together niche and popular scents, each evoking textiles…

Why not treat yourself to several new fragrances to sniff, today? We curate collections of try-at-home samples and mini/travel sizes, along with some other gorgeous scented treats and instructive postcards to help you follow the trail of each fragrance. Our latest Discovery Box is the just-launched Fashion, Fabric & Fragrance (bursting at the scented seams with designer names) but there are lots of others to get your nose in to: have a sniff around our shop and find your favourites…
Written by Suzy Nightingale

How can you improve your sense of smell? Watch this cute cartoon and book our 'How To' workshop!

Are perfumers possessed of magical noses gifted to them at birth – with a heightened sense of smell beyond the reach of mere mortals…?
Well, there’s an argument to made that perhaps some of the ‘noses’ behind our favourite fragrances are somewhat naturally gifted, but my goodness they had to work to get where they are. Perhaps also some of them grew up in perfume-y places – like Grasse – where the culture, history and even the streets themselves are awash with scent. But the truth of the matter is, they had to start somewhere. And those of us lucky enough to have a working sense of smell can undoubtedly go about improving that sense – and thereby enhancing every aspect of our lives.
We couldn’t resist sharing the wonderfully incisive (and undeniably cute) cartoon, below, that does a great job of explaining how important our sense of smell is in everyday life, and the basics of how one might begin mastering the sense of smell.

Apart from simple practice, practice, practice – the most important aspect, we have gleaned by interviewing those famous perfumers over the years; is learning to “fix” a smell in your head by creatively describing it in terms that are absolutely and entirely personal to you. And how on earth do you go about doing that? By attending one of our regular How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops
These fun, informal (but totally informative) sessions are held in groups, some people liking to bring friends along others preferring to sniff solo, and during which you will be taught how to start building your very own volcabulary of scent – pinning those intensely personal memories and emotions that are automatically triggered the second you smell something (good or bad!) and using that to invesitage – and vastly improve – your sense of smell. We’re not pretending you’ll come out as a fully fledged perfumer – and neither is this the reason we set up the workshops. But we can gurantee you’ll not only experience your favourite fragrances in a whole new way – you will appreciate your nose like never before.

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[Photos by Essence PR]
So, do you fancy a morning or afternoon of sharing fragrances, laughter and learning to improve your sense of smell – with a fragrant goody bag at the end of it and as many biscuits and tea (or coffee) you can drink in-between? Of course you do!
Come and join us for the next How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop in London on Saturday 4th February. Not a Londoner? Look here to find (or request) your nearest workshop.
How do you join in the fragrance fun? It’s simple:
How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops cost £10 for VIP Subscribers – which is 100% redeemable against any box purchase on the day of the workshop
Want to bring a guest? (it’s even more fun with a friend!) £20 for Guests of subscribers or non-VIP Subscribers
Maximise the opportunity by choosing to become a VIP with your booking for £35 to include a one-year VIP subscription to The Perfume Society, £10 of which is redeemable against box purchases on the day of the workshop.
Want to read a review from a happy attendee of a previous workshop? Cosmetic Candy blog waxes lyrical about attending one of our Manchester workshops, and Samantha Grocutt, MD of Essence PR describes her experience, here.
Workshops are generally hosted by Senior Writer of The Perfume Society, Suzy Nightingale within the London area, and co-founder Jo Fairley further afield.
Simply bring along a favourite fragrance – and your nose – and we so look forward to meeting you there.
Book your tickets here.
Written by Suzy Nightingale