Choosing a Fragrance

Il Bacio

It may sound simple, but it actually takes a little work to find the perfect fragrance for you. A fragrance is broken down into three components that together, make the accord or scent profile.

Top Notes (head) – are the notes you smell as you first spray the perfume. These notes last for only 10-20 minutes.

Middle Notes (heart) – appear 10-20 minutes in, just as the top notes are fading out. These notes will last approximately 3-6 hours on the skin.

Base Notes (dry down) – you’ll begin to notice them a half hour in and these notes can stay with you for up to 24 hours.

Perfume is a very personal purchase. We have memories associated with certain fragrances which of course, will affect our choice. But we also have to consider our body chemistry and the fact that fragrances will change slightly once in contact with our skin, and fragrances smell different on each and every body.

Viva La Juicy

So – how do you go about choosing a perfume right for you?

Start with what you know – is there a certain perfume you have worn before or like on someone else? Start there. Chances are, you will probably choose a new fragrance in the same category as something you have worn (and liked) before.

I’ll use an example of my own. Back in college, I wore a perfume called Il Bacio by Borghese. It falls into the fruity/floral categories with an oriental feel in the dry down. It was a scent I wore for years and probably the first fragrance that I really loved. I still wear it every once in awhile. I get complements on it almost every time I wear it.

More recently, I have worn Viva La Juicy by Juicy Couture –  believe I found it by browsing the fragrance counter and really enjoying it. It’s also a floral with a gourmand base or dry down.

I’ve noticed that I gravitate to fragrances that begin bright and dry down more oriental or gourmand.

Here is a list from www.fragrantica.com that I found to be informative and helpful in deciphering the different groups of fragrances. The characters will help you when choosing a new fragrance. For example, if a fragrance is described as “outdoorsy and fresh” is ging to be an aromatic herbaceous scent. Where as something “warm and sensual” is likely to be a heavier oriental.

Aldehydic perfumes contain chemicals belonging to the aldehyde group. Character: pure and fresh. Example: Chanel N°5 (Chanel)
Aromatic perfumes are made of various herbs, e.g. rosemary, basil or thyme. Character: outdoorsy and fresh. Example: Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (Guerlain)
Aquatic perfumes will have a base of synthetic ingredients that evoke the sea, mountain air or fresh linen. Character: clean and modern. Example: L’Eau d’Issey” (Issey Miyake)
Citrus/fruity perfumes include bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, sweet orange and fruits such as peach, red berries, watermelon, etc. Character: fresh and light. Example: Dior Addict 2 (Dior)
Floral perfumes contain flower extracts, such as rose, lily or jasmine. Character: sweet and delicate. Example: Pure Poison (Dior)
Green perfumes, formerly known as chypres, are made of bergamot, labdanum, patchouli and oakmoss. Character: woody and floral. Example: Coco Mademoiselle (Chanel) 
Gourmand perfumes contain notes like vanilla and tonka bean, chocolate or caramel. Character: sweet and edible. Example: Delices (Cartier)
Oriental perfumes have a base of amber, musks, vanilla and other exotic plants. Character: warm and sensual. Example: Dior Addict (Dior)

Woody perfumes are made of woods such as cedar, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver. Character: earthy and masculine. Example: Mediterranean (Elizabeth Arden)
Once you have a place to start go explore the fragrance counter of your local department store or Ulta store. Pick 3-5 that you like and ask if they have a sample you can take home. If you decide to try one, make sure you just try one and try it on clean skin. One spritz on the inside of the wrist and elbow and that’s it! You won’t know for a couple of hours how it dries on your skin. Let the fragrance develop and you’ll know if you’re close to a new signature scent or not.