Since I am widely known as a perfume “maniac”, I get this question quite often. So I decided to write the answer as an article. So is it possible to have “your” perfume? I say yes. But I’ve never tried it. I don’t understand why I war the same perfume to the PTA meeting as to romantic dinner, to work or to the ball in the opera. And when I consider how different scents behave in different climatic conditions, then why should I wear the same thing in spring, summer, autumn, winter, on a ski slope, or on a summer vacation.
But since it is clear to me that this is like explaining the benefits of monogamy to King Solomon, so if someone wants to have one “signature” perfume that really suits them for all these occasions, I keep my fingers crossed. I will just add that it is possible to have one perfume – and a few others for special occasions.
Perfumes consist of a carrier, fragrance substances and mostly preservatives and dyes. The carrier is usually alcohol, but there are also oil perfumes, where the carrier is oil, and finally solid perfumes, where the carrier is some type of solid waxy mass, are increasingly being used. But what we are interested in is the fragrance ingredient. Perfumes can be composed of different fragrant essences, or just one – these are called soliflors. There are only a limited number of soliflors on the market, and in addition, they often do not have a long endurance on their own, so more complex perfumes are more popular. As different fragrances have different volatility and endurance, the form of introducing ingredients in the structure of a perfume pyramid has stabilized, where in the top or in the “head” of the fragrance are the ingredients that we probably smell first and shortest time – usually a few minutes to half an hour. In the body or “heart” of the scent we feel those ingredients, that hold most of the time and in the “base“, or so-called drydown those ingredients that remain even after the rest of the perfume has taken off. Some manufacturers don’t put much effort into it and will simply list the ingredients without this division. It is quite difficult to determine what and how long it will feel on a given person, and also some perfumes do not develop much – they smell more or less linear all the time. I did not an opportunity to try any attempt to make a “cyclic perfume”, so I cannot assess whether the intention was successful.
Fragrance substances can be natural as well as synthetic, and there is an effort to find substances that will help to stabilize even such perfume ingredients that usually evaporate very quickly. For some time, a molecule called Iso E Super was considered such a miraculous substance, which should theoretically be odorless, but can intensify any other odor, including the scent of one’s own skin. I can smell the faint scent of cedar in it, but it will once again be an individual matter.
What not to choose?
The first step I recommend is to discard all articles from women’s magazines that want to advise you on what suits your “personality type”, hair color, height, weight and shoe size. Disregard them and throw away all ideas about what is “to be worn” in the summer, in the winter, in the day and in the evening. The only thing that matters is what your nose likes.
In the second phase, discard perfumes that you like / liked on someone else, especially if you are in regular contact with them. You can try them, but there are two risks:
- If you meet a that person often, it’s a bit the same intrusion as buying the same clothes she wears and walk in where she is.
- Since the perfume tends to resolve differently on each person, it can resolve on you either completely differently – and maybe completely badly, or just a little differently – and then it looks like a caricature during a meeting.
You’d better find “yours” own.
How to do it
There are two basic options (and of course combinations):
- Ask for small samples
- Run to a perfumery and try what they have to offer (sometimes some perfumeries are willing to give samples or make them from testers into their own or brought vials, but unfortunately this is relatively rare in our country).
They are a better but more expensive method. Better, because they allow you to try the perfume at home, but more expensive, because if you do not receive samples of everything that interests you for free (which is practically an utopia), you need to buy them. Communities of perfume enthusiasts are big help here, because there is always a possibility that samples are exchanged.
Perfumery testing is a cheaper and more affordable method, on the other hand, it is quite limited by the supply of perfumeries in your vicinity. In a perfumery you have two options – try on papers or directly on the skin. Personally, I recommend starting with paperwork, because spraying some horror on yourself that will not go down is quite a nuisance – the only advantage may be enough personal space on the way home in public transport. Papers are more suitable for the first evaluation of the smell on the basic scale of like / dislike / useable as a self-defense spray only. To really test the scent, it is necessary to apply it to the skin.
How many perfumes can be tried at once? It’s really varies. It depends on how intensely and in detail we want to try them, on the training of the nose and on your olfactory memory.
You can try quite a lot of them on the basic sorting of likes / dislikes. You will feel when you have had enough and keep the others for the next time. There are people who swear to clean their noses with the smell of coffee, but I personally consider it as an extra smell. See if it works for you. In an effort to assess a specific perfume more seriously, it is recommended not to test more than 3 at a time. After years of testing, I can do 4 to 6, according to the difficulty, no more.
How to do it in the last phase?
Once we have “sorted” the ones we liked the most, we apply the samples to the skin of our hands – preferably far enough apart. And we’ll take the time. I explained the reasons at the beginning of the article in the section on the composition of the perfume. The perfume simply develops on the skin, the various ingredients react in different ways, some are more volatile, some less so, so the perfume, which we like at “first sniff”, can be unrecognizable in half an hour. It is best to give the test a few hours. Some perfumes have the ability to last on the skin until the next day. Therefore, another feature that you will find out by waiting is how long the perfume will last for you. This is because it is very individual, depending on the type of perfume (e.g. citrus scents tend to last much shorter than, for example, woody scents), and your skin. If the scent holds for a short time, it doesn’t have to be a big problem, you just have to apply it more often during the day. But then you have to reckon with the fact that you will consume the perfume sooner, and therefore it will cost you more than the same amount of another perfume that will last on the skin for a longer time.
The most common testing errors
If we want to buy a unique, unmistakable perfume that will fit us well, it is a bad idea to run into a perfumery with the question “What is worn the most now?”. And in general – perfume shop assistants are a chapter for themselves. There are great ones that know enough about what they sell – but they are as rare as three-headed unicorns. Usually one finds them in small luxury perfumeries, sometimes as specialists at launch events, but in the chain stores they usually do not even register perfumes that they have right next to them on the shelves. Honor the exceptions. In addition, sometimes salespersons have various bonuses according to the sale of specific perfumes – the biggest, of course, for the new ones. So it is very likely that as the most suitable perfume for you individually some latest perfume will be recommended – the same one as was recommended to the customer before you and also to the customer after you.
Other mistakes are to buy the scent quickly according to the first impression, or untried on your own skin. And probably the worst way to choose is to sniff the atomizer. Ideally, you will find nothing about the smell other than the smell in contact with metal. In addition, the perfume oxidizes in contact with the air, so if it has not been sprayed from the bottle for some time, you will find out exactly how it will stink when it starts to spoil. In general, in perfumeries, it is good to first spray a little from the tester into the air and then onto the paper. It is probably not necessary with the novelties, but I would definitely recommend to do it with older, classic scents.
And to conclude this text a in a bit of nihilistic way, you can, of course, buy perfume completely or almost completely blindly. Whether according to your favorite ingredients or nose, or simply being enchanted by the name, the bottle, the marketing story around it, or a purely prosaically advantageous price. Just have a some imagination and a taste for the risk. You just have to keep in mind that there may be a big disappointment that will eventually have to be “placed” somewhere. There are even (unfortunately only foreign) perfumeries that will send you the ordered scent together with its sample, so that you can try it from the sample first and, if it does not sit down, send the unopened scent back.