Scent is arguably the most powerful of all the senses. A whiff of hot bread can bring us back to our grandmother’s kitchen; freshly cut grass stirs memories of childhood picnics; and a waft of jasmine reminds us of that exotic holiday from way back when.
Our experiences and memories are intricately connected with our favourite smells, which in turn inspire our favourite perfumes – the ones which make us feel happy, glamorous or relaxed. But the ‘perfect’ perfume is a rare thing. Not too light, not too heady; appropriate for everyday but deep enough to last well into an impromptu evening; and most importantly of all, it has to make you feel good.
No one can choose your perfect perfume on your behalf – this is a deeply personal process that will take time. Try as many different perfumes as you possibly can, while armed with the following essential information.
How to choose your perfume
Before buying a new perfume, it is important to understand a few of the basics. Firstly, you should know what it is you are buying. The most common perfume types are eau de parfum, a concentrated blend of scents that should be applied sparingly to the pulse points of your body (behind the ears, on the wrists and behind the knees).
Eau de toilette, on the other hand, is a version of the perfume scent that has been diluted somewhat. This makes it ideal for light, citrusy fragrances, or everyday wear, and you can get away with a liberal spritzing if desired.
Eau de cologne is typically associated with male scents, as the low concentration of essential oils (typically 2-5%) is best suited to citrus and woody base notes. However, female colognes and unisex scents have become increasingly popular in recent years, and this sort of fragrance is extremely versatile and skin-friendly.
Then you have ‘absolute’ perfume. These are extremely concentrated versions of essential oils, and usually include just one or maybe two different scents. They are typically used by perfumers who then distil and dilute the scents into new fragrances. However, if your favourite smell in the world is raw vanilla, sandalwood, or another naturally occurring smell, a vial of absolute perfume is a wonderful treat.
How to ‘smell’ your perfume
Always, always spritz a new perfume directly onto bare skin. Your natural scent will mingle with the perfume, creating a fragrance that is unique to you.
Smell the perfume three times: once, just after the initial spritz (where you will smell the bright and strong ‘top’ notes of the scent), again around 30 minutes later (where you will smell the ‘heart’ notes – that unique fusion between perfume and skin), and then again a couple of hours after that (when you will smell the heady ‘base’ notes that will linger on the skin).
How to store your perfume
Without exception, perfume should always be stored in a dark, cool place away from direct sunlight. This way your perfume should stay fresh for at least six months to a year.