Secrets To Successful Scent Shopping

7 February 2016

Let me loose in a fragrance store and I will emerge, three hours later doused in everything from Cheryl to Chanel. As someone who has made mistakes when it comes to fragrance shopping in the past, I know how important it is to take your time with choosing the right scent. Some of my fragrance shopping mishaps still haunt me. So much so, that the thought of perfume shopping breaks me out in a cold sweat.

Don't get me wrong, I love perfume. I wouldn't make such a show of renaming my blog if I didn't love perfume. I just really picky about the perfumes I wear. Scent shopping seems so easy to other people; waltz into a department store and waltz out £50 poorer with the latest celebrity scent in their possession. But for me, fragrance shopping is a project, a lengthy process to ensure I don't repeat history. 

One of my favourite things about perfume is that it is powerful trigger to a snapshot in time. One of my first fragrances, the original Ghost, takes me back to being with my first boyfriend in high school. Every time I get a waft of it out and about, I am greeted with the most vivid of images. Every scent I own acts like an olfactory timeline of my life. Even things like hair products have a similar power. There's this one hairspray that without fail takes me back to getting ready for student nights out... There's a lot riding on that one fragrance purchase, and a lot of pressure to get it right.


1) Choose a fragrance family

Love your current fragrance but fancy a change? Try a scent from the same family. Perfumes are classified into different groups based on their characteristics, accords and notes. Some of the main groups include freshfloraloriental and woody. A fresh fragrance takes inspiration from the outdoors, with grassy or aquatic notes, along with fruits such as apple or citrus. Floral scents are fairly self-explanatory, and may have dominant notes of rose, jasmine or orange blossom. An oriental fragrance is deep, exotic and seductive. The emphasis will be on base notes of vanilla, musk or amber, and they will be best suited to night time wear. Finally, a woody scent will again rely on the base notes, which could be sandalwood, vetiver or cedar. This category is mostly made up of male scents, but there are some fab women's options too. 

2) Be seasonal

Something I touched upon above is being seasonally appropriate. Personally, I go for lighter scents in the summer and heavier scents in the winter. In warmer weather, scent evaporates off the skin quicker, intensifying the base notes making a perfume heavy and cloying. It is always worth giving a scent another go in different temperatures. Something that you might not have liked in the summer may work perfectly in the cooler weather. Warm and spicy scents work in the winter, whereas in the summer, I'm more likely to smell like a fruity cocktail surprise or fresh, creamy coconut (actually that's a lie, as a coconut lover, I could wear it all year round. Cart me off to the fragrance police right now!).

3) EDT or EDP?

Think about the strength of the perfume: Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette (EDT) and Eau de Parfum (EDP) are traditionally used to describe the % of perfume oils. A cologne typically comes in as the weakest, with around 3-4% , going up to 15-18% for an EDP. An EDT will float somewhere in between. Where there is an EDP and EDT; it is common for it to be a different concentration of the same scent; although it is not unusual nowadays for the EDT to be a complete reformulation with some of the original notes, mixed with others to make it more spring/summer appropriate. Make sure you've read up on reviews on perfume stores online. Whilst you are doing your research, you can often scout out voucher codes to sweeten the deal. 

4) Testing in-store

If you know you are going perfume shopping, don't go out wearing a strong fragrance or heavily-scented body products. The idea of perfume shopping is to test the scents on your skin, so you don't want your existing perfume or mango-scented body butter to dominate and confuse your nose. Another thing to add, is to stick to testing only a few scents at a time. Back when I bought Armani Si (AKA fragrance disaster of 2013), I thought I was being so clever, going off for a coffee to assess and evaluate my time spent sampling. It turned out that I got mixed up with Si and a Chloe scent I'd also been testing, and ended up hating Si once I'd got it home. That fragrance still makes my stomach churn.

5) Sampling

Sampling is my most important tip for buying fragrances. Even if you think you love a scent in-store, it can deceive you, as proven by Armani Si. So grab a spritz in store, take it home on a blotter, ask for a sample vial. Even eBay or sample subscription boxes are a great way to do this. Finding a perfume you really love means that you won't be wasting your money, and you can shop around for the best deal, instead of being pressured to buy there and then. Fragrances can be pricey investments for many, so making sure you truly love it is the ticket to ensure you're not wasting your hard-earned cash. 

I hope my whistle-stop tour has been useful. Let me know if you've had any fragrance shopping disasters!


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