You might begin your “Scent Journey” with a simple thought. “I want to smell nice” or “I want it to invigorate my senses”. This is a good place to start, but today’s fragrance market is saturated with all kinds of options that can make it a daunting task to even know where to begin in choosing a perfume that suits you.
As a professional perfumer, Sherri Sebastian, the founder of Provision Scents, knows the struggle on the consumer's side - but she also knows the industry inside and out and can say what is worth looking for - and what isn’t.
Here are some tried and true methods to learn how to begin your scent journey and find your individual preferences.
How to Choose the Right Perfume for Your Body Chemistry & Lifestyle
There are a plethora of things to take into consideration when learning how to choose a fragrance. Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
1.) Trust yourself—don’t read “notes” to decide what you like.
Most of the time, notes are marketing descriptions and not ingredients. Even if these notes are actually in fragrances, it is the entirety of the scent that gives it a unique fragrance profile.
2.) Get in touch with how a scent makes you feel.
Decide how you want to feel and then choose a scent that checks off the boxes. You can go to your local perfume shop and sample different scents and make notes of your reaction to them. Did it make you feel happy? Comforted? Was it an assault on your senses? You can begin to build a familiarity with different scents this way.
3.) Notice how a fragrance ‘wears’ on your skin.
First impressions are not everything when it comes to fragrance. Perfume may smell one way in the morning, another in the afternoon, and make one last change in the evening! This depends on many factors, like the fragrance portfolio of the perfume as well as your own special body chemistry. The oils on your skin can change the scent.
4.) Spray fragrances on the outer forearm as opposed to the wrist.
Think about how many times a day you wash your hands. The soap may have a scent that lingers and affects your fragrance. Your watch/jewelry might affect the scent of fragrances. To get the most out of your scent avoid any area that might be exposed to other lotions, soaps, and heavily fragranced items.
5.) Consider your lifestyle and activity when choosing a scent.
If you work in close quarters with many people, you might go with a lighter scent. Whereas for the weekends or after hours, a heavier scent might be more to your liking. Your scent projects and sends a message about you so think about what your scent is saying!
How to Shop for a Perfume Online & Offline
Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences, it’s time to shop! Here are some tips once you’re actually browsing through the perfume aisle.
Perfume Samples or Testers
This is a no-brainer. If you’re in a physical store, try out the tester bottle (please don’t open any boxes!) and try it on your forearm as previously mentioned. Sometimes, online retailers will also offer sample-sized bottles of their signature fragrances, or fragrance sample sets, in order to guide you in your decision. This is perfect to give a product a test run! You can do it from the comfort of your home and experiment with how these fragrances wear throughout the day.
Gender - if Applicable
This can be useful if you already know you like more traditionally feminine or masculine scents, but recent trends in the industry are really pushing these boundaries.
Scent is deeply personal and doesn’t always fit into a gendered category. After all, everyone has different body chemistry! Don’t be afraid to move into the men’s section if you’re woman, or vice versa, if you’ve discovered a type of scent that makes you feel a certain way you like. You won’t always find it in clear cut gender categories.
Many companies, including Provision Scents, haven’t gendered their fragrances at all since they understand this desire people have to not label their scent experience. Instead of guiding yourself by gender, focus on categories of scent to determine that perfect blend.
Read the Category & Ingredients
Although not perfect, you can get a general picture of the main ambient feel of the perfume. If there are specific scents you adore, like sandalwood, reading the product descriptions carefully can help you narrow down which perfumes you want to try.
Most of the time, retailers will list the notes of a perfume online. If you’re in a store, you can read the ingredient list and get a sense of whether you’d enjoy a scent.
Understand differences between Parfum, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette and Cologne
This is a big one. These different categories of scents refer to the concentration of oils that build up the scent profile. Things like “Body Mists” or “Body Splashes” usually say Eau de Toilette on the bottle since they are a lower concentration, whereas more concentrated scents will say Eau de Parfum.
This is important to know since you must consider your setting - an office, a big event, the beach? Different scents may be more appropriate for these settings depending on how long they last on your skin and how strong the scent is. Decide for yourself what is appropriate.
At the End of the Day…
Scent is one of the strongest emotional triggers in the brain. The smell of a cologne can remind you of a late family member, or a particular fruity lip gloss can remind you of your middle school crush.
Scent is personal and meaningful. Take the time to figure out what YOU like and what makes you feel best. Once you find one that clicks, it’s worth the journey.