While perfume descriptions can be gorgeously written, they don’t do much to help you actually find a scent that suits you and your body’s unique chemistry. If you don’t know what words like chypre means, or you aren’t sure what the actual difference is between something that smells girly and something that smells feminine, this guide is for you.
Here are simple tips to help identify what your signature perfume scent should be. Hint: trust what your nose is telling you, follow your gut instincts, and make a commitment.
Understand each scent.
While it can be overwhelming to pay attention to the vocabulary terms used to describe smells, being aware of all the scent possibilities can help you identify the right perfume mixture for you. If you’re shopping online at Fragrance Advisors, this comes in especially handy. You’re being proactive, knowing ahead of time what scents you’re already attracted to.
Here are descriptions of common perfume terms to get you started:
- Smoky: similarities to burning campfire, cedar chips, a match after it’s blown out
- Musk: a clean-laundry kind of scent
- Citrusy: like a spa with a yoga studio. Refreshing lemons, limes, and oranges.
- Woody: Anywhere from creamy and nutty to spicy and dank
- Floral: anything that’s a flower, from roses and violets to peonies and lilies
- Green: dewy moss on an early spring morning, or the aftertaste of a wheatgrass shot
- Oriental: incense, spicy, sweet
- Aquatic: a cross between a bubble bath and a just-opened soda bottle
Don’t try more than three scents at one time.
It’s tempting to step into your nearest Sephora and smell-test every single one of their gorgeous perfume offerings. However, that’s actually not a great idea. Your olfactory bulb (the part of your nose that does the smelling) will get overworked and begin to get confused.
Give each tested perfume a real shot at being the winner by limiting yourself to three smells each time. That way, you’ll be able to really focus on how each one makes you feel. You’ll also be better able to differentiate between the smells.
Start light, and then go heavy.
Think that something with a musky scent is heavy? Wrong! Muskier scents are those with a cleaner, fresher smell. Start with these, as well as scents that are aqueous in order to really notice their notes. Then, work your way into heavier scents. About 50 percent of the population isn’t even able to pick up musky scents, so give these fragrances a fair chance.
Not sure which is which just by looking at them? The perfume sales associates at the store will be able to guide your exploration.
Pay attention to your rebounds.
Unlike boyfriends, perfume rebounds can be a sign that you’re meant to be. If you’re searching for the right scent and keep getting drawn back to one particular smell, or an old perfume you loved as a child, don’t dismiss that! Find somewhere you can obtain a sample of the perfume and try it out for a few days. See how it reacts with your body’s chemistry and check how it smells about every hour while wearing.
Still loving it? That could be what you’ve been looking for all along.
Pass on the coffee beans.
Have you ever noticed that a small pot of coffee beans are never too far away when you’re shopping in a perfume store? Sales associates will try to tell you the beans will help to reset your olfactory indicators. Unfortunately, that’s just an old myth. The coffee beans really are just another strong scent that might throw off your nose.
So, what’s the best way to work around getting overwhelmed by scent? Sniff yourself instead! Bury your nose in the crease of your elbow. It should look like you’re about to sneeze. Your own pH and scent will help to get everything calibrated back to normal.