photos/post/design: Kristin Ess

Finding a fragrance that’s right for you can be a rather overwhelming process– especially if you walk into a department store and mulitple sales people start attacking you with bottles. Today we’re going to talk about how to get the most out of scent shopping. I want to share a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way that can help narrow down your choices.

  1. Try to go to a perfumery that specializes in helping you find the right scent. Search your area for a perfumery or apothecary, and if you can’t find one then opt for the nearest department store. It’s worth searching for one because the people who work in a perfumery or apothecary tend to be very passionate about what they do. You you want that when you invest in an expensive bottle of bliss! I go to Scent Bar in LA which is part of LuckyScent.com. I love walking in there because these people know their stuff. If you go, look for Steven Gontarsky– this man has got all your answers. He’ll ask you some questions about what you typically find yourself attracted to (if you don’t know they’ll help you figure that out, too!) and then he’ll walk you through variations in that fragrance family.
  2. Steven Says:
    “Be open
    . Some commonly used notes in perfumes come loaded with assumptions (old ladies wear roses, hippies wear patchouli, musk is dirty). Perfumery is a complex and subtle art. One material used in one way will not even slightly resemble the same material used in another composition. Forget what you think you know and let yourself get lost in the smell.”
  3. Use the little paper tabs that are provided. It’s of course important to spray a perfume on your skin, but until you find one you’re really excited about and potentially want to purchase, you should only spray the tabs. When you spray the perfume on the tabs, avoid making contact with your nose. The scent will stay on your skin as you’re smelling every other fragrance.
  4. Learn about different notes! Everyone’s body chemistry is a little different so you can’t make a general statement about top, middle + base notes but… Typically the top note is the first thing you smell when you spray or dab perfume on the skin. It lasts about 5-15 short minutes so enjoy it! Next you’ll get the middle or “heart” notes which last about 30-45 minutes. Middle notes are intended to mask base notes that can sometimes be unpleasant alone or if they haven’t had time to settle in. Then the base notes which is what gives a fragrance it’s depth.
  5. Don’t smell coffee beans, smell you. I was always taught that smelling coffee beans between perfumes was a bad idea. I was taught that the best way to neutralize your nose was to smell your own bare skin. Sounds silly, but I typically turn my head and smell the skin near my shoulder because I don’t wear perfume there. It actually works and coffee beans just tend to confuse my nose.
  6. Find your family. The list below will help you identify your favorite fragrance families. It’s good to know this when you walk in to talk with someone.

It’s important to find your signature scent. Doing so should be on every woman’s bucket list. If you’ve found yours, spill it! Would love to hear about your favorite perfumes and what you love about them in the comments below. If you want to do a little more research on fragrance, try stalking Chandler Burr, Mandy Aftel + Francis Kurkdjian, peep the Olfactorialist, or stroll into the Scent Bar!