Choosing a perfume is a deeply personal experience. It's about exploring your options and experimenting with different scents, notes and fragrances to find the one that’s right for you. It's also about staying true to yourself and trusting your instincts — or, more precisely, learning to trust your nose. But where do you even begin? How do you find a perfume that suits you? And what is the best way to choose a perfume?
There is no tried and tested method that works for everyone, or a one-size-fits-all solution because choosing a perfume is a very personal decision. So we've put together this guide to help you consider a few things when looking for the perfect scent for you.
Decide the purpose of your new perfume
When choosing a perfume, the first thing to consider is why you're buying one in the first place. For example, are you looking for an everyday fragrance that will last all day? Maybe it's something that can be worn on special occasions when you want to leave a lasting impression. Or perhaps it's an all-rounder scent that can be worn daily and for any occasion, whether social or in a work setting.
If you intend to use your new perfume only for social occasions and don't expect to wear it outside of those contexts, then go for something with richer tones like amber, vanilla and musk. For work, a milder floral perfume is preferable, as they tend to have a fresh scent and are less overpowering. Lighter perfumes also contain less alcohol, so you don't have to worry about using too much as they tend to evaporate quickly and do not last as long. However, if you want them to last all day, you may need to reapply them.
Consider your body chemistry
Everyone is unique with a different body chemistry. Some people, for example, have a higher body temperature than others, making them feel hot and sweaty often. This can affect how a perfume smells and even how long it lasts on your skin because sweat and oil from our glands gradually mix with the scent.
Our bodies also have different skin types, so it’s important to pick a perfume that works with your natural scent. If you have sensitive skin, for example, certain ingredients in a perfume will irritate your skin more than others, whether it's alcohol, castor oil, or beeswax. In any case, you can test a scent away from your neck and other pulse points to see how your skin reacts first. You can also apply it on your clothes rather than spraying it directly on your skin.
If you have oily skin, sometimes there’s no way of telling what it may smell like since your sebum mixes with the perfume’s ingredients, resulting in a more distinct odour. For dry skin types, you may find yourself applying more frequently to achieve the ideal scent because perfumes tend to evaporate quickly on this skin type.
Consider where you live
The climate you live in can also limit your options when choosing the right fragrance. If you live in a warm, humid climate, then a lighter scent would suit you best. For dry and windy climates, try going heavier on citrus notes or muskier scents so that your perfume doesn't get blown away by the breeze.
If you live somewhere where it gets chilly most of the time, then consider purchasing a perfume with a stronger note or something that you usually wear because it will feel more comfortable and familiar when worn during the long, cold winter months.
Decide on your personal price range and experiment with different scents
Perfumes can be expensive, especially branded fragrances. So you should think about how much you are willing to spend on perfume, and consider buying samples as it is cheaper than buying a full-size bottle. If you want to experiment on a budget or are not sure which perfumes to sample, have a look at our starter suggestions for men and for women.
If you’ve decided on your budget, you’re ready to start exploring and experimenting with different scents to determine the type of perfume you want. Fragrances are often made up of a combination of different oils and solvents, and each perfume has its own unique blend of ingredients, which produces different scents, ranging from spicy, fruity, earthy, flowery to fresh notes. Some of the common scents include citrus, lavender, vanilla, mint and spice.
Do some research and find out which scents suit your body chemistry and complement your personality. For example, if you like a citrus aroma, you could experiment with various fruity notes or perhaps a mix of fruity and floral tones to identify your signature scent.
Follow your instincts
Finally, and most importantly, trust your intuition as well as your nose. They always know what's best for you—unless you have a cold. Choosing a scent, after all, is a deeply personal experience. Before making any decisions, ask yourself how much of "you" is reflected in the smell of each perfume you're trying on. If you don't like the way a perfume smells, then it's probably not the right one for you.