Pretending It’s Already Spring: how to layer floral notes in fragrance

Before spring has truly sprung, we’re excitedly looking for any hint of floral budding and blossom blooming in nature – and in the fragrances we want to wear at the moment. But sometimes the full-on floral scents we might adore a little bit later in the year don’t feel quite right for right now. So, how to transition a more winter-y feeling fragrance into something more seasonally appropriate?

Follow our guide to layering floral notes into a perfume that suddenly feels a little too stuffy

 

Why layer?

Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already love on its own – why would you need to? – but there are brilliant ways of adding a brightness and fresher beauty to a perfume that perhaps now feels a bit too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a go, because, as we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!

You can either try layering over other fragrances you have in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced ‘soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance oil or spray, or try layering the scent you don’t currently like so much over a differently perfumed body lotion or oil (see below or the added benefits of doing this…)

 

 

Florals need hydration!

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Nothing makes fragrance disappear more quickly, or dive to the deeper base notes more rapidly, than dry skin. To prolong brighter top notes and floral heart notes in a scent, try using a floral-scented body lotion or oil to your fragrance. Aroma molecules evaporate far slower on well-hydrated skin.

Try also spraying a floral hair mist scent into your hair, too, so it wafts around you all day. Hair doesn’t heat up as much as skin, and will absorb the smell more deeply, to waft around you in a delightful floral breeze all day.

 

 

What order to layer in? 

(You definitely don’t need to layer ALL of these – unless you’re feeling particularly decadent, and why not? – but here’s a general guide on what order your chosen layering scent should come…)

 

Scented shower / bath gel

Matching body lotion / oil / balm (or a pick out one of the notes of your chosen scent to echo that in the body product)

Eau de Cologne

Eau de toilette

Eau de parfum

Parfum

Perfume oil / attar

Fragranced hair mist (or simply spritz your scent into your hair, on to clothes (having patch-tested!)

 

 

Floral fragrances perfect for layering

The Merchant of Venice Accordi di Profumo fragrances have been designed to layer perfectly or to wear alone, if you prefer. The Neroli Marocco adds a stunning shot of sunshine floralcy to any scent, while the Rosa Turchia feels like spritzing a shower of freshly-picked rose petals into any fragrance.

 

 

[Both £65 for 30ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com]

 

The Edeniste Lifeboost Discovery Set has been created specifically as a kind of fragrant mood-altering toolkit to add on top of something else you’re wearing whenever you need it (which is an utterly genius idea, and comes backed by science having been developed with the aid of neuroscientists’ studies). Included within the set is a white floral, a floral musk, brighter, zing-ier florals and many other fragrant facets to change-up your perfume (and how you’re feeling!), and to be played with to your heart’s content.

 

[£32 for 6 x 2ml samples eau de parfum in our shop]

 

Another excellent way to test and hone your new found scent layering skills is by subscribing to the always seasonally-perfect perfumes chosen for the Seasonal Scents Subscription Boxes. And, of course, treating yourself to a Discovery Box to try all sorts of combinations – how many hundreds (or thousands?) of combos you could create by learning to layer, within each box we don’t pretend to know. But one thing we can say for sure: you’ll have a whole lot of fragrant fun!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

How to Layer Freshness into Fragrances

We’ve a whole feature on exactly how to layer fragrances to achieve your own perfect blend, but it can be tricky to find scents that behave well with others.

Here, we take a look at some fragrances that have been specifically designed to be layered – and these ones will add that much-needed WHOOSH of freshness and stalky greens to any perfumes you already on and love, but which maybe need a little livening-up – as do we all, right now…

 

 

 

 

The Merchant of Venice Accordi di Profumo fragrances were created in order to focus on notable perfumery ingredients that have been beloved for centuries, here evoked by their master perfumers to perform as  “…a harmonious combination of olfactory notes. These can be used together, layered, resulting in a tailor-made perfume.” Separated into fragrance families, the Fresh Citrus collection uses ‘essential oils obtained by pressing the peel of fruits such as bergamot, lemon, orange and grapefruit, popular in the Mediterranean for their freshness and liveliness.’ We recommend reaching for either (or both!) of this duo for adding an instant fresh zing to any scent…

 

 

 

 

 

The Merchant of Venice Accordi di Profumo Bergamotto Italia

‘The brightest and most elegant of the citrus family, Bergamotto Italia is like a fresh and sparkling water, tonic and dynamic, an ode to happiness and naturality. Bergamotto Italia lets you discover all the fragrant juice of the pulp and fruit for an exclusive Bergamot experience.’

£65 for 30ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

 

 

The Merchant of Venice Accordi di Profumo Arancia Brasile

‘An elegant citrus fragrance that releases a multifaceted fruity, green, dry and woody personality. Arancia Brasile is a fragrance that smells of summer: citrus fruits accompanied by the addictive sweetness of Brazilian oranges.’

£65 for 30ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

 

 

 

Edeniste Lifeboost Discovery Set 

These ground-breaking, mood-boosting fragrances have been researched and created with the help of neuroscientists to target the needs we all have depending how we feel. From energising and reviving to soothing and aiding bursts of joy while you wear them, we suggest trying their Discovery Set of the layer-able Lifeboosts to keep on hand (and wrist) as a kind of olfactory toolbox. Worn alone they’re wonderful, of course, but we think you get the best sense of their scented super-powers when spritzed atop another scent. They slice through any malaise and are noticeably adding newness, while perfectly harmonising with whatever you might already be wearing. Try these three for EXTRA freshness…

£32 for six samples in our shop

 

 

Edeniste Lifeboost Energy

‘A reviving musky woody citrus. A refreshing splash of citruses from Italy, infused with the energizing essences of peppery bergamot and regenerative grapefruit, boosted with zingy ginger absolute from Ethiopia. As bright and empowering as a tall dewy glass of freshly squeezed juice. Get up and glow.’

£68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

Edeniste Lifeboost Wellbeing

‘An uplifting spicy green floral. A confidence booster with zingy Ethiopian ginger absolute and crisp pink peppercorn absolute from La Réunion. The quintessence of easygoing wellbeing, captured in a luminous accord of fresh spices and green notes enhanced by two of the most precious ingredients in perfumery: Indian jasmine absolute and iris concrete from China. Dive deep into your inner self, feel its uplifting sense of comfort. You’re golden.’

£68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

 

Edeniste Lifeboost Happiness

‘A joyful woody fruity floral. A sparkling essence built around an exotic mango accord spiked with juicy, colorful notes of raspberry and watermelon, on a base of pure Virginian cedarwood essence. Surrender to the exhilarating beat of its fizzy tropical delight. Feel the bliss.’

£68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

Experimental Perfume Club Discovery Set

The Experimental Perfume Club concept has always been about the freedom to blend fragrances as you wish – each of the scents cleverly comprising head, heart or base properties which you can then combine to your heart’s content. The very best way to experiment and discover your own perfect blend is by layering the fragrances contained in this brilliant discovery set. Showcasing brilliantly blended accords by perfumer Emmanuelle Moeglin, we’d point you towards the Bergamot Incense, Fig Neroli and Rose Rhubarb to add instant freshness to your fragrances in this selection. But really, the perfumed possibilities are almost infinite however you choose to combine them!

Bergamot Incense – Citrus and exotic spices are brought together in this bright fragrance with Eastern influence.

Fig Neroli – The crunch of fresh herbs in a Mediterranean garden in bloom. A garden combined, green leaves and dark woods.

Cardamom Moss – A swirl of spices wrapped in salty waves of mineral mosses and Ambroxan.

Jasmine Osmanthus – A tribute to white flowers growing on hot sand. Jasmine flowers growing on an apricot tree. Capturing all the fond memories of summer holidays.

Rose Rhubarb – A bright rose entwined with sharp blackcurrant and sparkling, zingy rhubarb.

Tonka Sesame – An utterly delectable combination of gourmand notes and woods; fused in perfect harmony.

Sandalwood Musk – A mineral sandalwood met by leather and musks. A soft, creamy sandalwood pierced with light, shining in the dark, enhancing the darker woods.

Amber Iris – An amber wrapped in powdery notes; dark yet soft. A power play of ingredients, a scent of juxtapositions. A smoky, smooth incense pierces through rich, resinous myrrh.

Cedarwood Absinth – Aromatic wormwood oil gives the scent of Absinth. Cypriol roots give a powerful earthy, woody, balsamic undertone, bolstered by Virginia and Atlas Cedar, and patchouli.

£50 for nine samples in our shop

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

How to Layer Fragrances

The art of layering fragrance is sometimes presented as a skill you must not attempt until you’ve fine-tuned your nose to the level of a master perfumer. Or perhaps even suggested as something you should never do. Worry not. We’re here to guide you through with some easy tips and tricks to ensure a fragrant harmony every time you spritz…

Did you know that in the Middle East, people layer up to SEVEN fragrances at a time? Sometimes more! Never be afraid to play with perfume. (The wonderful thing about fragrance is there is no right or wrong: if you like something, then it’s right. If you don’t, you can wash it off. It’s not a tattoo after all.)

 

The best way to begin layering

Start with a scent you like a lot but wish could last even longer / add more character to. Write the name of that fragrance into our clever Find a Fragrance database, and it will give you a description of the notes (individual raw materials and perfumer’s accords) that make up the composition.

Now, pick a favourite note and think which other scents you have with those notes (see if you’ve already got some of those the genius algorithm suggests, or add them to your Must Sniff List, next time you’re shopping!)

 

 

We very rarely seem to leave the house without at least a couple of scents on each arm (hey, it gets hard to choose) and after a day of sniffing and spraying various latest launches, there are occasions we have multiple fragrances vying for attention. Now, this is not the ideal way to wear them, of course – a perfume needs time space to bloom to perfection on your skin – but there are many times and differing reasons you may feel the need to stack up the scents, and here is how you should go about it:

 

 

How to layer if you want your fragrance to last longer

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Particularly in warmer climates. Nothing makes fragrance disappear more quickly than dry skin. Try using a matching body lotion or oil to your fragrance (many have matching products like shower gels as well – the more layers of the scent the better!) Aroma molecules evaporate far slower on well-hydrated skin.

Try also spraying the scent into your hair, too, so it wafts around you all day. Hair doesn’t heat up as much as skin, and will absorb the smell more deeply. Do a patch test, first, to ensure the fragrance doesn’t discolour your hair (spray on a tissue to be sure).

 

 

How to layer if your fragrance is too sweet

Look for dominant citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, mandarin, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often described as being like Champagne bubbles).

 

How to layer & soften a scent

Vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche’, ripe fruits, chocolate or even candy floss. For a smoother, woodier sheen to a scent, add a sandalwood-rich or cashmere/powdery scent on top. These notes feel cocooning, adding a layer of soft comfort to spikier ingredients.

Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!

[See many more suggestions for how to change-up a fragrance you’re not getting on with, here.]

 

 

How to layer if you need to change from day to evening

Consider boosting the base notes of the scent you’re wearing – these tend to be the last to linger on your skin, being made of heavier molecules, and are likely to include ingredients such as patchouli, labdanum, olibanum, vetiver, woods or musk. Or pick out a spicy note for extra sizzle! Once you’ve welcomed the darker side of your scent and allowed it to shine with extra power, your scent trail will be stronger, longer lasting and will add a little wiggle to your walk, as it were.

Also think about investing in a stronger version of your scent – an eau de parfum, if you use the eau de toilette; or a pure parfum if you can invest in it (or ask Santa!) Read about the differing scent strengths and how differently they react and project or ‘throw’ your scent, here.

 

 

What order to layer in?

 

Scented shower / bath gel

Matching body lotion / oil / balm (or a pick out one of the notes of your chosen scent to echo that in the body product)

Eau de Cologne

Eau de toilette

Eau de parfum

Parfum

Perfume oil / attar

Fragranced hair mist (or simply spritz your scent into your hair, on to clothes (having patch-tested!)

 

 

Don’t forget, the Experimental Perfume Club fragrances have been specifically designed to mix at home and layer to your heart’s content!

Another excellent way to test and hone your new found scent layering skills is by getting a Discovery Box to try all sorts of combinations – how many hundreds (or thousands?) of combos you could create by learning to layer, within each box we don’t pretend to know. But one thing we can say for sure: you’ll have a whole lot of fragrant fun!

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

How to make a fragrance work harder (even if you think it doesn’t suit you!)

Have you ever found a fragrance you love, but it just doesn’t last long enough? Or, maybe you’ve been given a bottle as a gift, but it’s just not ‘you’? These are problems that feel even more prescient in the current economic climate, when we’re all looking to ‘waste not, want not’ and make the best of what we have.

Perhaps you have scents you used to adore, but you’re not in a current relationship with them anymore because your tastes have changed? Or you want to be braver in 2023 and break out of your comfort zone, but don’t know where to begin? If any of these apply to you – or you’d simply like to know how to make any perfume work harder for you – this guide allows you to get the very best from any fragrance

 

 

#1 – Improve your sense of smell

Absolutely everyone can benefit from this – we’ve had people from normal perfume-lovers, complete novices to industry professionals telling us how trying these techniques have changed the way they smell for the better (for good). This doesn’t mean suddenly gaining the ability of being able to detect every single ingredient within a bottle of perfume, but rather learning to train your nose the way a perfumer does: by deeply exploring the emotions it makes you feel, colours, textures, places and people it reminds you of.

Here are a few simple tips to try every day:

– Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably; close your eyes and keep sniffing for several seconds, then take the blotter away, inhale deeply, and re-sniff the blotter again. Repeat this for a minute or so, and then begin writing a few words in a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a description, and it shouldn’t ‘list’ notes – try to use words that make you think of other things. For example…

– If this scent were a fabric, what would it be? What colour? If you made someone an outfit from that fabric, who would they be, where would they be going?

– If it were a piece of music, what instruments would be playing? Is it classical, rock music, pop, rap or jazz?

Really attempt to get past trying to pick out individual notes, or (if you’re not initially keen) thinking ‘I don’t like this’. Focus instead on the mood it’s creating. The images that come to mind, memories that are triggered, places it makes you think of. Thinking about fragrances in a more abstract (but still personal to you) way helps evaluate them more clearly.

 

 

 

 

#2 – Make your perfume last longer

If the reason you don’t like a perfume is because it just seems to ‘disappear’ on your skin, you’re not alone. We often find those with dry skin have this problem, and it’s even thought genetics and things like hair colour may play a part. Scientists are still finding this out, but while they do, there are ways you can make perfume last far longer:

– Try using a body oil, rich body balm or moisturising lotion before you put any fragrance on (and even afterwards, too), as scent takes longer to evaporate on nourished skin. This helps the fragrance ‘cling’ to your skin more easily, and so you get to actually smell if for more than a few minutes without frantically re-spraying.

– Spray pulse-points you might not usually think of. Behind your knees is a good example – it’s a warm spot that, once spritzed, will mean you leave a fragrant trail…

– Spritz the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into your hair and on clothes – BUT do check by spraying a tissue first that it isn’t going to mark your hair or fabric a strange colour, or leave an oily residue! We adore this way of wearing perfume, as hair and fabric are porous without heating up as much as your skin, allowing the perfume to stay all day.

Spraying a fragrance on to a scarf is a particularly good idea if you want to ‘try on’ a new (perhaps rather more personally challenging) scent but don’t want to commit to it all day.

 

 

 

 

#3 – Store your fragrances correctly

Fragrance certainly doesn’t last forever – but storing it correctly will help preserve the quality and lifespan of your perfume. The key is to keep it away from light and heat – so a bathroom, or a sunny dressing table, is NOT the place for your fragrance stash: higher temperatures affect the top notes of fragrance, making them musty, or more sour.

– If you have a dark cupboard to store perfume in, or a drawer, that’s perfect. (Ideally, keep in the box, or – if you’re using a drawer – wrap bottles in a scarf, or even plastic, unglamorous as that is. Be aware that perfume that’s never been opened and kept in a dark place can last more than 40 years…!).

– If you can’t manage that environment, store on a shelf that doesn’t get direct sunlight, in a not-too-hot room. Then once a bottle is open, you should get up to two years’ life out of it (we’ve had fragrances that last much longer…) Lighter, citrussy scents deteriorate faster than opulent florals…

– You may find you get a better life out of a spray bottle than a splash: if you touch the glass to your skin, and oil from your body gets into the bottle, that can affect the lifespan of your perfume, too: touch your skin to the rim of the bottle – and don’t use stoppers for application, as they are in contact with the contents. NB Dark glass preserves scent for longer than clear versions.

 

 

 

#4 – Learn how to layer

Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already love on its own – why would you need to? – but there are brilliant ways of beefing-up a sadly flimsy fragrance, or adding a zing to something that’s a bit too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a go, because, as we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!

– Add power: ramp it up by adding more base notes like patchouli, labdanum, vetiver, woods or musk.

– Add freshness: look for citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often desribed as being like Champagne bubbles).

– Add beauty: find a scent too ‘harsh’ or clinical? Look to layer it with decadently velvety or lusciously fruity rose oils, the sunshine-bottled scent of orange flower, a heady glamour of tuberose or a luminescent jasmine; try an apricot-like osmanthus flower, the fluffiness of mimosa or the powdery elegance of iris/orris.

– Add sweetness: vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche’, ripe fruits, chocolate or even candy floss. Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!

For layering any of these, you can either try wearing them over other fragrances you have in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced ‘soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance oil or spray, or try layering the scent you don’t currently like over a differently perfumed body lotion or oil.

 

#5 – Turn it in to a part-time perfume

There are days we feel the need to try something completely different, but perhaps don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what to do?

– Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not silk or a light colour, unless you’ve patch-tested it first!) with this perfume you’re unsure of, that way if it gets a bit ‘too much’ or you want to wear something different, you can simply take the scarf off and you’re not committed to having it on your skin for hours. If you’re unlucky enough to work in a place that’s banned the wearing of strong scents (or even, in some offices, all perfumes – quelle horreur!) this is also a really useful way to wear a perfume you can quickly remove.

 

 

#6 – Consider the climate (and your mood!)

Did you know that the weather, your mood and even what you ate up to *two weeks ago* can dramatically alter how scent smells on your skin? Skin and climate temperature are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favourite fragrance will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in hot and colder conditions (depending what countries they’ll be selling in). Don’t re-gift until you’ve tried the perfume again later in the year, or even on holiday (remember those?)

– Similarly, strongly spiced foods can change how a perfume smells on your skin, and when testing fragrances under lab conditions, the ‘skin model’ volunteers they use are often specifically asked to refrain from eating such foods up to two weeks prior to testing, so the perfumers can smell a ‘true’ representation of the scent. Though sometimes the reverse is true: if a fragrance is to be mainly sold in a country where people eat lots of spicy foods, the ‘skin models’ are asked to replicate that diet to ensure the scent works efficiently.

– We now know that mood and hormones play an important part in how we select a fragrance – try a scent when you’re feeling a particular way, and it colours how you feel about the fragrance itself. If you’re feeling stressed or upset, a bit under the weather or just overwhelmed, these are not ideal conditions for testing out something new. Wait until you’re feeling calmer, or simply have more time to really explore what you’re smelling.

 

 

 

#7 – Give it time

If you follow all this advice and still find yourself out of love with a fragrance, keep it awhile and come back to it. If you still hate it, hold a scent swapping party with some pals. But BE SURE. There’s nothing worse than waking at 3am in a cold sweat because suddenly you’re craving that scent you so kindly passed on to a friend, and then having to buy another bottle. So, don’t be too hasty. Every perfume lover has, at some point, made this mistake, and it stings. Oh how it stings. And that somehow makes the longing all the more intense, like guiltily having lurid fantasies about a distant ex who’s since hooked up with someone else. I once did this with a bottle of perfume that’s since been discontinued (now changing hands for silly money on eBay), and it still haunts me to this day. Learn from my perfume pain!

 

You can read more expert tips and tricks in the Frequently Asked Questions section, but if I could just ask one thing of you before you go? Don’t save all your favourite fragrances ‘for best’, or feel guilty about wearing and loving them. Of course you can change them up with more affordable scents, and make them last longer by doing all the above; but if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s to allow yourself pleasure whenever you can get it. A really wonderful fragrance gives you a far greater bang for your buck than the majority of things (legally) available out there, so yes, make them work harder; but god let us enjoy them exuberantly, too!

Written by Suzy Nightingale