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“You smell amazing,” has got to be one of the best, if not thee best, compliment that I could ever receive from anyone, friend or stranger.
I’ve never been a shoe girl, a hat girl, a glasses girl, or even a makeup girl (although I dabble) but I will forever be a passionate fraghead! I have ALWAYS had a collection of perfumes at the ready: one for every mood and one for every season (because yes, there are winter and summer scents. I’ll explain more later…).
Even if I’m staying at home for the day, I’m 100% spraying something on my body. It’s honestly just such an uplifting, therapeutic experience and feels like lighting a candle after cleaning your house or relaxing in your favorite pj’s after taking a relaxing bath. It just feels good and adds that extra oomph of elegance to your day and helps to intentionally prioritize your self-care.
Everyone’s nose is different so define what smelling good means to you (it definitely doesn’t have to be expensive or going viral on TikTok)! Sometimes “smelling good” may mean that you like to smell like clean laundry or other times you may want to smell like a decadent slice of chocolate cake. I like to choose a scent per my mood or more particularly, a scent to set the vibes for the temperature or location that I’m in. If it’s a cold, snowy night I’m more likely to pick a perfume that’s intense and warm like sitting by the fireplace for a cozy, movie night; but on a beach day in the Caribbean, I’m definitely reaching for a lighter, citrus or floral scent that won’t compete with the sweltering heat.
Some will say you can wear any perfume any time of the year, but I would have to slightly disagree. Yes, some perfumes are everyday scents that smell the same no matter the weather but in hotter temperatures, some perfumes can turn, becoming more aggressive and nauseating compared to wearing them in a colder environment.
For example, a heavy, vanilla scent is going to give you the headache of your life if you wear it in 80-degree weather. To paint a better picture for you, imagine wearing the strongest perfume you’ve ever smelled (the one that makes your nose twitch and feels like you can taste it); it assaulted your senses and wasn’t pleasing in the slightest. Be sure that everyone around you may not find it too pleasant either. You obviously don’t want that, so beware when applying oriental/amber or woody scents in the warmer months as that is a highly possible effect.
Now, on to the basics!
I mentioned oriental/amber scents and that is just one example of the four main fragrance families that you will encounter during your fragrance journey; floral, woody, amber, and fresh. Simply put, the floral family is just as the name implies; these perfumes have flowery notes such as, jasmine, rose, and bergamot. Fruity notes are also included in the floral family. Fresh scents are pretty simple as well as they may remind you of something smelling aquatic, clean, or citrusy, like lemon and orange.
Amber perfumes, on the other hand, are warm and can be spicy and sensual with notes like amber, of course, vanilla, and musk (these are the perfumes to be mindful of before adorning in the Summer). While woody scents are heavily musky and can be smoky with notes like sandalwood, oakmoss, vetiver, and leather. It takes a while for perfumes with woody notes to grow on me because they’re my least favorite and they lean more masculine on me (of course, to each their own! A particular perfume may not smell that great on me but may smell different and amazing on you).
If I blind buy a fragrance (buying without smelling it previously) and I don’t fall in love with it, I will try layering with another perfume to tone down the notes I dislike and/or amp up other notes I enjoy.
Layering is a big debate and to some fragheads it may be considered a huge no-no because perfumes are technically already made with all the notes intended to make it beautiful so “why ruin it?” Others argue that it makes the scent you create more unique to you and may make a perfume you hated before become one of your favorites just by adding or complementing notes (I’m with the latter lol). At the end of the day, it’s your dollars being spent so layer or don’t. It’s fun to play with scents and you can create endless combos, each one smelling different than the next.
Layering your perfumes may take one fragrance up a notch while making another less intense. A good rule of thumb is to spray with the more intense perfume first then layer it with the lighter scent, otherwise the lighter scent will disappear or hover somewhere in the background.
Also, if you don’t know where to begin and don’t want to run the risk of blindly mixing different perfumes together to create a horrible scent (you’re a beginner after all), then layer your lotions, oils, and perfumes with other scents that share common notes like musk, for example, as they’re more likely to smell divine when combined and not clash together.
Know Your Notes
Speaking of notes… just a quick lesson about top notes, middle notes, and base notes of perfumes.
I like to think of top notes as flings or your associates (people you wouldn’t consider a friend) because they’re here for a good time, not a long time. Have you ever tried a perfume in-store and loved it then after walking around to shop for a little bit, the top notes disappear and you start to hate it? Or vice versa?
Well, that was the trick of the top notes. Top notes are what you smell when you instantly spray the perfume, and these notes wear off pretty quickly to give way to the middle and base notes (around 5-15 minutes). So, always remember not to make a purchase based off of the top notes alone (or solely based on someone’s opinion).
The middle note, or the heart, is what I would call the good friend with benefits that you like to hang out with but don’t necessarily want to be married to; it’s the bridge connecting the top notes with the base note. The middle notes are that second layer that makes up about 70% of the fragrance so these notes may determine if you truly like a scent or not. Middle notes may last about an hour or so.
The base note is your long-term, supportive partner. They’re dependable and plan to stick around for awhile. It’s the final piece of the puzzle and is the lasting note, or the “dry down”, you will continuously smell throughout your day (it can last up to a whole 8-hr work shift). Keep perfume notes in mind as you decide which notes you like best with your body chemistry, the ones you don’t, and the ones you want to linger.
Eau de Toilette VS. Eau de Parfum
Lastly in our Fragrance 101 lesson, you should know the difference between eau de parfums, eau de toilettes, etc.
First and foremost, there are 5 types of perfumes: eau fraiche, eau de cologne (EDC), eau de toilette (EDT), eau de parfum (EDP), and parfum/extrait. The main difference between them is the fragrance oil composition which can determine the longevity (how long you can smell the perfume), projection (how far away someone can smell you), and sillage of your perfume (the scent trail you leave behind).
For example, EDPs have a higher concentration of perfume oil than EDTs, causing a scent to linger more (not to say that some eau de toilettes don’t last just as long… but few do). The price of parfums and eau de parfums is a direct correlation of the high concentration of fragrance oil; the more fragrance oil, the higher the price but unfortunately that still doesn’t ensure that the scent is going to last!
The trick is extending the longevity of your perfume without having to reapply it throughout the day! Try incorporating the following hacks into your daily routine and see if it makes a difference in the longevity of your perfume, they almost always work for me:
- Firstly, when wearing perfumes (and ensuring they last on your skin for hours), prepare your body by always bathing with a washcloth and using an exfoliating body wash. You don’t have to use a body scrub every time you shower but you should at least use a washcloth or loofah. Not only will you have baby soft skin but removing all of the previous products on your skin as well as dead skin cells will aid in absorbing your perfume properly/sticking on your skin for a longer period.
- Now that you’ve prepped and have a good base, it’s time to… MOISTURIZE! It is a known fact that perfumes last longer on hydrated skin than it does on dry skin so lotion up, oil up, or do whatever you have to do to prevent dryness and lock in that scent (I like to use both for good measure 😉 )! Also, a good tip is to use scented body lotion that matches or complements your perfume choice of the day to help amplify its notes!
- Start with a low dose of sprays then work your way up until you know how the perfume performs, especially with stronger perfumes (you don’t want to accidentally choke people out lol). Spray all of your pulse points (wrists, neck, chest, and maybe even your ankles #IYKYK), then an extra spray or 2, wherever you want for some spice, and hell, spray some on your clothes too! After the scent wears off your skin, it will most definitely still be hanging around on your clothes (it’s nice to catch a little whiff every once in a while). Just be careful of spraying perfume while wearing white as some fragrances do stain!
- Lastly, never… NEVER rub your perfume into your wrists. Lightly dab if you must but rubbing breaks down the notes that were so thoughtfully put together in your perfume, which ultimately changes the scent profile and makes it disappear faster!
- Once you’re done applying your perfume(s), store them in a cool, dry, dark area (preferably a closet and definitely not your bathroom) to prevent perfume from turning sour or maturing quicker which affects not only the longevity of the perfume but also how the perfume smells entirely!
Bonus Tip For All Perfumes: Begin creating your perfume collection with fragrances you like and see what notes stand out to you the most. Is it tonka bean? Vanilla? Violet? Musk? Figure out what notes stick out in your brain that make you love those fragrances before making any new purchases. Get samples of new perfumes and wear them a few times to make sure you like them and it won’t be another regretful buy left sitting on the shelf…
Remember, don’t let your friends or social media choose what perfumes you buy. I don’t think I need to say this again but, everyone’s unique body chemistry determines if certain scents make them smell sweet or sour so while an influencer or trusted friend’s opinion is nice to have, that’s their opinion! Always try out perfumes for yourself and then make your own decisions… you may find a hidden gem.
Wearing perfume doesn’t have to be daunting or something that’s only for “special occasions”. If you ask me, everyday is a special occasion just because you get to live your best life smelling damn good, girl!
Have fun and test out perfumes in the store, like Macy’s, Ulta or Sephora, or subscribe to a perfume subscription box to try out new scents every month to help you develop your tastes (shoutout to Scentbird for supporting my habit).
Happy fragrance shopping (and say sorry to your pockets for me because it can get addicting lol)!
Which fragrance family do you tend to lean towards (I’m team amber in the colder months and a fruity girl in the Spring/Summer)? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!