5 Helpful Hints for Choosing the Right Perfume

A new perfume can make you feel confident, sexy, and beautiful. But with an overwhelming number of options available, how do you choose the right scent? Here are 5 helpful hints:

1. Find your preferred note or scent. There are several methods of classifying fragrances, but the most popular is sorting them into four general categories—Floral, Oriental, Woody, and Fresh. Which fragrances appeal most?

  • Florals smell like fresh flowers—either one particular kind or a combination of blooms. Feminine Florals are the most popular of all fragrances.
  • Oriental fragrances traditionally smell rich, spicy, and sweet, and often contain musk, amber, incense, and/or vanilla notes. Some “gourmand” fragrances, which smell like foods (often delicious desserts), can be classified in this category.
  • Woody fragrances often have notes of sandalwood and cedar; they may also evoke the scents like patchouli, tobacco, moss, and/or leather.
  • Fresh scents include citrus, water (also known as marine or aquatic), green, and fruity perfumes. Zesty citrus scents smell of lemon, grapefruit, and/or bergamot (a kind of orange) oil. Water perfumes smell fresh, aquatic, and clean, but not stereotypically feminine. Green scents evoke crushed leaves, cut grass, and cucumber, while fruity fragrances are redolent of berries, tropical, and/or non-citrus fruits.

Many perfumes contain elements of more than one category, and would be considered a member of a hybrid fragrance family, such as Floral Oriental or Fruity Floral.

2. Try a perfume in your chosen fragrance family. Apply the scent to one or more pulse points such as the wrists, throat, or below the ears. If you’re using a spray bottle, hold it about 8 inches from your skin. If you want to try on more than one fragrance, apply each to a different pulse point. But don’t try on more than three fragrances at a time—the combination may overwhelm you.

3. Don’t overdo it. Be sure to apply your scent with a light hand (generally no more than 3 drops, or a single spritz), and know that the aroma will intensify with heat, exertion, and in small spaces.

4. Don’t buy a perfume based on your first impression. Perfumes have three “notes." The top note hits your nose immediately, but evaporates quickly. The mellower middle note rises in a few minutes; this is the core of the perfume. Finally the base or bottom note blooms, accentuating the middle note and making the fragrance last. After applying a perfume, wait for several hours see how the scent develops.

5. Remember that what smells great on a friend may not suit you. Because perfumes combine with the oils in your skin to create an aroma, a scent that smells wonderful on your friend may not appeal to you on your own skin.