Searching for a signature scent might involve a more intuitive process than just asking ‘does this smell good?’ Finding a signature scent adds to the story you want to tell about yourself the same way your clothes, hair, and makeup do. Perfume experts give advice on how to categorize perfume, test samples, and highlight the notes of perfumes so your signature scent perfectly matches how you want to express yourself to the outside world.
Knowing The Four Categories
Instead of walking into a store and picking up bottles at random, having an idea of what you’re looking for in your signature scent makes this process easier. It will give you a solid place to start when the store clerk asks to help you and you can give them a better answer than ‘I want something that smells like summer’ or ‘uh, Ummm, I don’t know something sweet.’ Knowing the names of each of these categories will cut down the time spent smelling bottle after bottle, which by the way, experts don’t recommend you doing in your pursuit of a signature scent.
Fresh: think of the synonym clean and the notes of citrus make sense for this category. Lemons and oranges along with more herbal scents of lavender, basil, and rosemary can be found in the perfumes in this category.
Floral: this is probably the most traditional category associated with the word perfume. Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Beauty Expert, describes the category as, “really romantic and very tender.” The traditional notes of these perfumes are filled with roses, jasmine, and berries. Imagine the smell of Alice in the garden of singing flowers in Disney’s “Alice In Wonderland.”
Oriental: this is the traditional and industry-accepted way of categorizing this scent. For this smell, think of spices such as incense, leather, smoke, and often vanilla, but in an earthy way, not a sweet way. Poulin describes true vanilla as, “really earthy, like tobacco.”
Woody: this category tends to include more traditional ‘masculine’ scents. It will fill your nose with earthy scents such as cedar and dry wood. Imagine going to a cabin in the woods during the fall. This category embodies the comforting earth scents that would fill the air.
Top Notes Vs. Base Notes
Your signature scent is as complex as you, but knowing how to break it down will help you navigate the levels easily. The first thing you smell, your first impression of a perfume, is what is referred to as the top notes. Experts explain these are the lighter smells that rise to the surface first and fade faster than the rest of the scent.
Next in the lineup for your signature scent are the middle or ‘heart’ notes. These last longer and emerge after most of your top notes have begun to fade. The middle notes last longer up to a couple of hours once applied.
Finally, emerge the base notes. These are the foundation of your signature scent and will be the longest-lasting part of the spritz. The complexities mean testing a perfume just got a little more involved than just spray and sniff.
How To Test
All you need to know for sure is how to count to three. That’s the number experts say to try and stick to when in pursuit of your signature scent. Since our olfactory bulb, the neural structure in the forebrain involved with smell is extremely sensitive, you don’t want to overwhelm it. Using the four categories tell the salesperson behind the counter what scent you’re after and what kind of impression you would like to give.
Allow them to offer you three scents only and spray onto the testing paper. Now, wait! Do not immediately pull the testing paper up to your nose. Lightly waft the strip in your direction and be extra cautious to avoid touching the spray on the skin of your nose. It will affect how the following scents smell, making choosing your signature scent inaccurate.
But don’t reach for the coffee beans just yet, experts say this is another wise tale and doesn’t actually reset your nose palette. The best way to re-center your nose is through your own smell. Experts suggest smelling an article of clothing or a patch of skin that doesn’t have any smelly product on it in between each fragrance sample.
Furthermore, you’ll want to be sure to walk around with your sample papers full of your potential signature scent for about 15-20 minutes to really get the full effect of the settled scent. Once you’ve narrowed down a few scents you really enjoy, test them on your skin to really get a feel for your future signature scent.
Body Spray Vs. Perfume
While significantly cheaper than some perfumes, body sprays tend to be more water than oils in composition. This means they won’t last as long on the skin or carry as heavy a scent because the oils are what provide the strong smell. The heavier concentration of alcohol in body sprays also leads to quicker evaporation off the body and in turn a short-lived scent.
‘Parfum’ or traditionally thought of perfume, has an oil concentration of around 15-20% allowing the scent to last about 24-hours. Contrastly, body spray’s oil concentration ranges a whopping 1-3%. So, if you find your signature scent in a body spray, be prepared to reapply throughout the day if you want to maintain the smell.
Your Affect On The Scent And Your Lifestyle
You know that cliched phrase everyone is different? Well, it’s true even on a chemical level because everyone’s body chemistry is different. This means the smell you love on your sister, best friend, or random lady who just passed you on the street won’t smell exactly the same on you.
While it might give you a great place to start your search for your signature scent, you might not end up buying the exact same bottle. It’s why many experts recommend buying small sample bottles of the scents you liked while exploring and trying them out for a few days to see how they change on you.
Another bodily factor that plays a role in how well your signature scent will attach to your skin is moisture. If you have drier skin, it’s less likely your fragrance will last as long studies have shown fragrances last longer on oilier skin.
For women, in particular, hormone balances in the body play a significant role in how scents interact with our PH levels. Experts note big life changes such as starting your menstrual cycle, getting pregnant, or entering into menopause could be a good time to change up your signature scent because it may no longer smell the same.
Consider Having More Than One
Finding a signature scent doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to just one. Some days you want to send the world a slightly different message and the final touch of fragrance will be the pretty ribbon tying the message together. So, some categories of life you could consider purchasing a signature scent for include: every day, a night out, seasonal (spring, summer, fall, winter), or even cozy vs. power days. Consider finding a scent from two different categories to really spice things up.
The most important part of finding your signature scent is what you are drawn to. If you keep returning to one or two scents over and over again, well I think you know what to do.
Who knew finding a signature scent could be such an involved process? Do you already have a signature scent? Are you on the hunt for a new one after reading this article? Share with your friends and family so they can feel all-powerful in a signature scent!
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