What to do if you hate a perfume present? Tips & tricks to save your scent!

Well firstly, ‘hate’ is a very strong word. If you’ve been landed with the favourite fragrance of your current partner’s ex, we’re not going to pretend to make you suddenly adore it, so maybe re-gift that one – see tip #7 – and treat yourself to one of our Discovery Boxes of fragrant delights, and perhaps a new partner, instead?

But there are things you can try before you completely ditch a scent – we can’t tell you how many fragrance experts (ourselves included!) and even perfumers have drastically changed their minds about a fragrance by trying some of these top tips…

#1 – Seasonal changes
Did you know that the weather, your mood and even what you ate up to *two weeks ago* can dramatically alter how scent smells on your skin? Skin and climate temperature are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favourite fragrance will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in hot and colder conditions (depending what countries they’ll be selling in). Don’t re-gift until you’ve tried the perfume again later in the year, or even on holiday (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 plays an important part in how we select a fragrance – try a scent when you’re feeling a particular way, and it colours how you feel about the fragrance itself. If you’re feeling stressed or upset, a bit under the weather or just overwhelmed, these are not ideal conditions for testing out something new. Wait until you’re feeling calmer, or simply have more time to really explore what you’re smelling. That’s when you can try to…

 

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

This is why we developed our so-popular How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops, which we have regularly held in London and, sometimes at independent perfumeries around the UK. We’ll be adding new dates as soon as we’re able to hold face-to-face workshops again, and plan to make a video available online.

Meanwhile, 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 thinking ‘I don’t like this’ and focus instead on the mood it’s creating. Is it too deep or too fresh or floral for your personal taste? Give it time and then, if needed, move on to one of the tips, below…

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Spraying a fragrance on to a scarf is a particularly good idea if you want…

#5 – A part-time perfume
There are days we feel the need to try something completely different, but perhaps don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what to do?

– Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not silk or a light colour, unless you’ve patch-tested it as above, first!) with this perfume you’re unsure of, that way if it gets a bit ‘too much’ or you want to wear something different, you can simply take the scarf off and you’re not stuck with it on your skin all day.

Nope? Tried all that and still struggling? All is not lost, don’t give up yet…

 

#6 – Scent up your life
We all have certain scents or fragrant ingredients that, for one reason or another, we might not wish to wear but do like to smell if it’s scenting something else.

– Why not try spraying off-cuts of pretty wrapping paper or tissue paper, and using this to line your lingerie or sweater drawers?

– Or, how about being utterly fabulous by spraying your note paper and insides of envelopes (the fancy ones lined with tissue paper are particularly good for this), and writing a few actual letters or thank you cards to loved-ones you’ve not seen for a while. Everyone loves getting proper post!

– The truly decadent could try scenting table linen – again, PLEASE patch test, as above – for lavish dinner parties to rival Marie Antoinette – spraying on cotton wool and putting inside a deocrative ceramic or pottery vase, on wooden ornaments or ceramic discs you hang over radiators to scent the whole room as they heat.

We so hope you can find a way to try this poor perfume again and give it some love, but if all else fails and you still can’t bring yourself to use it, well at least you tried! Why not…

#7 – Have a perfume-swapping party / re-gift
Um, remembering not to invite the one who gave you that particular perfume… otherwise, major awks. Or, if you’re looking to re-gift, have a look at our brilliant Fragrance Finder.

Simply put the name of the fragrance into the search box, and it’ll suggest six scents that are similar in character and style, or share a number of significant notes – this way you can see if anyone you know already has one of these, and it means they’ll very likely love to receive this one from you.

Genius!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance (but make it fashion!) – Scents inspired by fabrics

The trend-fuelled worlds of fashion and fragrance have been hand-in-glove for centuries – quite literally by 1656, when the perfumery and leather industry had become intrinsically linked, the fashion for exquisitely crafted gloves, popularised at court by Catherine de Medici, somewhat at odds with the disgustingly pungent reality of curing leather in urine. So, the Corporation of Glove-makers and Perfumers – the ‘maître-gantiers’ – (master glove-makers/perfumers) was formed in France, importing ingredients from all over the world to scent the gloves; with acres later given to growing and distilling them, such was Queen Catherine’s passion for perfume, and an entire industry was born in Grasse.

Since then, where fashion has led, so fragrance has followed – and just as hemlines go and up down, and silhouettes dramatically alter from era to era, so too do scented ‘shapes’ change with time. And perumers have long been inspired by fabric in their creations – a peculiar thing, you may think, as most fabrics don’t have their own distinct smell. Yet as we imagine a white sheet drying in sunshine, or the plush eroticism of velvet stroked beneath our fingers, we can also imagine the scent these textures might have. Such is the alchemical magic that fragrance can create – an overlapping of the senses, and in this first of two parts looking at fragrances inspired by fabrics, we pay homage to scents evoking satin, cashmere, leather and cotton…

Satin drapes. It clings to the body. It moves in the most sensuous way… And you definitely need to try draping yourself in this from prolific and gifted ‘nose’ Francis Kurkdjian. We’d call this an after-dark fragrance, one for oudh-lovers, for sure – but busting any prejudices against that ultra-woody material, for in Francis’s hands it never, ever overwhelms. We’re getting Turkish delight – a sugar-dusted rosiness that blends Bulgarian rose essence with Turkish rose absolute, while genuine Laotian oudh melts into benzoin from Siam, and the sweetness owes much to a soft, powdery accord of violet and vanilla in the heart. There’s almost a chocolate-y element swirling seductively around the patchouli, while the oudh underpins everything with its animalic smokiness. Mesmerising.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

 

 

Tom describes Iridium as ‘the fragrance equivalent of charcoal coloured cashmere.’ We always enjoy a description that makes you imagine a smell from a texture and colour, don’t you? And this really is a cool-toned cashmere, exuding effortless chic with all the powdery sophistication of precious iris concrète, but granted a strong silvery spine. The iris is dosed with carrot seed to amplify the dry, root-y yet so-refined character, and the synthetic note of Iso E Super wafts forth a deliciously grown-up gourmand ‘your skin but better’ dry-down – the kind that has people asking ‘what’s that delicious smell?’ and a secret smile is stifled when you know it’s you… Now also available as an extrait formula, poured at 71% strength, for even longer lasting enswathement.

Tom Daxon Iridium £105for 50ml eau de parfum
tomdaxon.com

 

 

Reminding us of our beloved leather jacket, a stack of books or the wood-panelled, boozily infused surroundings of a members’ only club, leather fragrances evoke a particularly voracious and luxurious sensuality, favouring deep base notes that linger the whole day long. Russian leather fragrances have a long heritage, the intense smokiness of birch the vital scent ingredient giving ‘Russian’ leather it’s characteristic smell. Here, Molton Brown curl swirls of smoke through a Siberian pine forest, infusing leather-bound books with a campfire’s glowing ember scent. Magnificently done, it’s an especial pleasure in colder weather, though I love layering it at times with a rose that needs some extra oomph.

Molton Brown Russian Leather £60 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

Like burying one’s nose in sunny-day line-dried linen, a gust of pure, clean ozonic notes greets us at this fragrance’s first spritz, only made more refreshing by a rush of watery notes and pinch of ginger. Mint and green accords carry this clean and fresh feeling into the fragrance’s heart accord, which then softens into florals, cushioned by skin-like musk and vetiver. Magically capturing the comforting sensation of crispness, and featuring elegant white lilies, floral cotton accords and a vanilla-speckled, benzoin-infused amber glow in the mix: this is one to spray when you need to be reminded of home, of lazy sundays and lie-ins and snuggling up in bliss. (See below to get a luxury try-me size!)

CLEAN Reserve Warm Cotton [Reserve Blend] £82 for 100ml eau de parfum
spacenk.com

 

 

Warm Cotton was the perfect addition to the Luxury Layering Discovery Box – featuring THIRTEEN layerable scents and three fragrant body treats to try at home for £19 (£15 for VIPs) – use it to freshen up a perfume without resorting to the usual citrus, to soften a scent you feel is too harsh or simply to luxuriate in the sebsation of that clean, soft white fabric dried in the sunshine.

Whether vintage or modern – evoking an era or an archetypal fabric – the fingers of fashion are still firmly within those fragrant gloves, and together they work their alchemical magic to embolden us: seducing several senses while enhancing our own sense of who we are – or whomever we want to be that day…

By Suzy Nightingale

Oil’s well that ends well: layering with perfume oils

Fragrance oils fell out of favour for a while, but there’s no doubt they’re back – a trend we’ve watched build over the past year in to a full-on fragrant flurry.

Perfume oils are perfect for layering scents – you can prolong the strength and life of your perfume by adding an oil (on top or underneath – both ways are absolutely fine) in either a complimentary fragrance that enhances the notes of your chosen perfume, or a contrasting scent to boost an aspect you wish was there.

So, if you have a perfume that’s too sweet for your tastes now, try adding an oil that’s citrusy and fresh; if a fragrance smells too harsh, soften the edges with a vanilla or musk-based fragrance oil, and so on.

Think of it like cooking a recipe, and ‘tasting’ as you go – balancing the flavours until you reach the perfect blend. Or, if you’re a perfume purist, of course you can simply enjoy wearing these fragrance oils alone…

We can’t get enough of Ostens oils – impecable quality (they source them directly from IFF and, uniquely, make them available to the public for the first time), and they actively recommend you try layering them with any fragrances you already own. We love ramping up the rose in a perfume by adding this one – it’s like diving head-first into a mountain of freshly plucked petals. Exquisite examples of Jasmine and Cedarwood are also available, with Patchouli Heart and Cashmeran coming soon. We can’t wait to play!

Ostens Rose Oil Isparta £65 for 9ml perfume oil

If your Summer scents still seem a bit flighty to wear, add some depth with this deliciously fragrant oil – an unexpected mix of spice-infused bergamot and plum with an addictive leather/amber dry down that lingers for hours. Malin & Goetz like to surprise, and all their perfume oils are cleverly blended and rather sophisticated scents – so with this one, don’t worry, you wont smell like you’ve been hitting the bottle! The roller-ball application makes this especially useful for travelling or touching up your scent on the go.

Malin & Goetz Dark Rum £40 for 9ml perfume oil

Presenting the dinkiest trio of roll on perfume oils to allow you to create a signature scent by layering together, using in combination with other perfumes you have or wearing alone. Mocha Bloom has infused espresso with musky floral tones, Leather Haze fuses smooth woodiness with ripe berries and Vanilla Satori mixes spiced honey sweetness with the freshness of citrus and rich undertones of tobacco leaves.

& Other Stories Tailor Your Story Layering Scents £19 for 3 x 4ml perfume oil

As part of the gloriously packaged, apothecary-style The Alchemist’s Garden collection, Gucci spoil us with14 scents, comprising seven Eaux de Parfums, four Perfumed Oils and three Perfumed Waters, all composed by brilliant perfumer Alberto Morillas. Designed to be layered in the most luxurious way, the four oils are poetically named and elegantly scented – and we think they look fit to be displayed on Marie Antoinette’s dressing table. We loved the violet oil that walks a tightrope between powderiness and verdancy, a perfectly delicate touch to layer with green and forest-y scents.

Gucci Alchemist’s Garden A Kiss From Violet £295 for 20ml perfumed oil

Fragranced body oil are another great way of layering (and making your perfume last longer). Fans have flocked to this warm fragrance, and now you can smother yourself in the decadently rich oil as well – it’s powerful enough to wear alone, or really lovely layered with lighter scents. Warm ambergris and cedarwood are buoyed by luminescent jasmine, 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 gorgeously moisturising but never greasy.

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

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Angela Flanders Dark Flowers Duos

As the nights draw in and we shiver in to the colder months ahead, those bright florals don’t seem quite so suitable, somehow. Just as we might choose to layer a pretty dress with a more seasonable sweater, so to can we layer our fragrances to better suit our moods…
With this in mind, British perfume house Angela Flanders have helpfully launched Dark Flowers Duos, ‘four seductive duos of flowers and woods. Wear each one individually or layer them to create a unique scent.’ In fact, you can create three scents with each duo, by choosing to wear alone or combine them both for a deeper plunge. As Angela Flanders suggest, ‘Why not transition your scent from day to night? Start by wearing the floral fragrance on its own during the day. Follow by later spraying on the woody fragrance to intensify your scent and give it more staying power.’
Four Dark Flowers Duos are currently available, each comprising a floral and a complimenting fragrance to perfectly enhance the other, but of course if you maximise the pleasure by purchasing them all, your scent-combination options become endless! Which layering options would you choose?
Mimosa & Sandalwood
Soft sun-drenched notes of mimosa blend seamlessly with warm and smooth sandalwood.
Jasmine & Vetiver
Sultry jasmine and grassy vetiver… This sensual blend is a marriage made in heaven.
Tuberose & Patchouli
Deep and earthy patchouli combines beautifully with creamy and heady tuberose.
Lily of the Valley & Hungary Water
Lift your mood by layering green and dewy notes of lily of the valley with invigorating Hungary water.
Angela Flanders Dark Flowers Duos £50 for 2 x 10ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Angela Flanders
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Clean Reserve: celebrate World Earth Day with sustainably beautiful scents at Space NK

Sustainability is a huge buzzword within the fragrance world at the moment, with customers demanding a more eco-conscious ethic to their beauty choices and some fragrance houses making sure they look after the raw materials so precious to their perfume formulas, while also ensuring a social responsibilty toward the communities of inigenous peoples who cultivate and harvest the crops.

Clean Reserve are one such responsibly-sourcing house, though striving for complete sustainability in the future; wherever possible they select raw ingredients cultivated and harvested using environmentally sound practices.

You may know them from previously having tried the original Clean range of scents and harmonious lifestyle products – and with a far more niche-inspired selection, they’re now in store and exclusive in the UK to Space NK. Having attended the press launch, we were fascinated to learn more about this collaboration with three of the world’s top fragrance houses. So, how do Clean Reserve introduce themselves…?

We’re making a choice:

To change the way you experience fragrance.

To create a collection that highlights your individuality.

To tap into our perfumers’ reserve of raw ingredients.

To actively engage in eco-conscious sustainability.

To remove the clutter, heaviness and complexity –

so all you’re left with is CLEAN.

CLEAN-RESERVE-Smoked-Ingredients

From the wooden caps sourced in Spain from certified sustainably managed forests, the fragrances themselves use ECOCERT materials and are manufactured in a facility using 100% solar energy. The alcohol is derived from corn – even the cellophane wrapping of the boxes is made from corn! – and the scent is incorporated with aloe for added calming and softening benefits on the skin. Of course, being super-sustainable is all very well, – and especially significant on World Earth Day – but how do they actually smell…?

UK200017147_CLEAN_RESE

A gentle balance of sophisticated and sexy, this is not your average ‘dusty’ smelling oppulent rose – it’s sparkling with aldehydes (those bubbly ‘Champagne’-esque notes that add space and volume to a fragrance) and transparent in character. Touches of peony and jasmine with the tender rose petals seem to glisten with dew drops, freshly picked from the garden.

Clean Reserve Blonde Rose £79 for 100ml eau de parfum

UK200017148_CLEAN_RESE

Incense and oudh are notes that many seem to shy away from, known for their sometimes overwhelming natures, but you definitely need not fear being smothered by this blend. Fusing incense oil with blue cypress, birch wood, pimento and honeysuckle, further freshness wafts across from jasmine and magnolia, resinously clear fir balsam and the intriguing sarcocaulon mossamedens (‘Bushman’s Candle’). Warm and earthy, the fluffy musk base of suede, patchouli, praline and amber snuggles on the skin.

Clean Reserve Sueded Oud £79 for 100ml eau de parfum

UK200017149_CLEAN_RESE

An exploration of the polarity between warmth and cold, the opening is exhilarating with verbena, bamboo leaf, bergamot and juicy quince pear blending seamlessly into a heart of pure, dry cedar wrapped in cotton, peony and wild moss. Fuzzy musks balance the base with gold amber, cool vetiver and myrrh – a mineralic iciness keeping the base notes from ever being muddy, it’s the inviting earthiness of an untouched forest to get lost in.

Clean Reserve Smoked Vetiver £79 for 100ml eau de parfum

All the Clean Reserve fragrances are made especially to be linear in character – and therefore perfect to blend with each other without the notes fighting or becomming too complex and overbearing.

We had a go at layering the three outlined above, and found it immediately became a completely new smell – harmonising notes from all, but transforming into a bespoke scent with a personality all of its own. Suddenly, the dry grassiness of the vetiver was amplified and the soft suede became deeper, more woody – all buoyed by wisps of a white bouquet peeking through the forest clearing. As Sueded Oud and Blonde Rose are recommended as the perfect ‘his and hers’ fragrances for a wedding day – we think we may have introduced a new partner to this marriage and created a menage a trois!

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 16.37.23Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 16.38.27

Clean Reserve have the distinction of being the first fragrance brand to reach the finalists of the US CEW Eco Awards this year, with the winners being announced in a couple of weeks time. With five fragrances in the collection at Space NK, you’re bound to find your own favourite combination, so why not go and explore?

Written by Suzy Nightingale