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Fragrance Buying Guide

Whether you’re looking for a signature scent or want to add to your fragrance collection, your perfume should be an integral part of your style.

 
 

A dab of perfume. A spritz of eau de toilette. It’s the finishing touch on a fabulous you. Your choice of fragrance expresses who you are and who you want to be.

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How to Choose

Step 1: Decide on a budget. Perfumes can range in price from under $20 to a few hundred dollars.

Step 2: Know the basic scents. Fragrances generally fall into four families: fresh, floral, oriental and woody. Smell a few different perfumes to get an idea of which family you prefer.

Step 3: Remember your timing. When will you be wearing your perfume? Daytime usually calls for lighter, crisper scents than what you might wear on a romantic evening. Seasons also play a role with fresh, floral scents in summer and warmer, spicier scents in winter.

Step 4: When you’re ready to try on a perfume limit yourself to 3 or 4 fragrances or else your sense of smell may get confused. Your wrist and the crook of your elbow are good places to apply the perfume. Wait at least 10 minutes for the scent to settle before judging.

Step 5: Wear and enjoy. To get the full effect of your new pick, apply your perfume to the pulse points on your inner wrists, behind your ears, and on your lower neck.

Fragrance Notes

A fragrance usually has three major components to make up the final scent.

Top Notes

The top note is the scent that is perceived immediately when a perfume is applied. They are made of smaller molecules and can evaporate quickly. These notes tend to be more assertive and bold and often form a person’s first impression of a fragrance.

Middle Notes

After the top notes dissipate, the middle note or ‘heart’ note of a fragrance emerge. These scents are often mellow to mask the sometimes heady base notes of a fragrance.

Base Notes

The foundation of a fragrance, the base notes are deep and rich. They are usually composed with heavier fragrances and along with the middle note, make up the main scent of the fragrance.

Concentration Levels

The concentration level of a fragrance describes how much actual perfume is in the bottle. The fragrance industry created the concentration categories to ensure that customers know which fragrance levels offer the best value for their money. As a fragrance becomes more diluted, the manufacturers add more water or alcohol (ethanol) to make them more subtle and affordable.

Perfume (Parfum)

This is the strongest level of fragrance, with a 15-30% concentration of perfume essence. This level of concentration will give you a long-lasting scent.

Eau De Parfum (EDP)

This has less fragrance than perfume, with an 8-15% concentration. It is less expensive but still captures the essence of the fragrance.

Eau De Toilette (EDT)

With a 4-8% concentration of the essence, eau de toilette is ideal for everyday use. It tends to be less expensive than eau de parfum, although not as long-lasting.

Eau De Cologne (EDC)

More commonly referred to simply as cologne and has the greatest dilution of fragrances with a 3-5% concentration of perfume essence, lasting up to 2 hours.

For Men Eau De Toilette (EDT)

For men, this is the highest concentration of fragrance and will last the longest, up to 5 hours. It is often available in either a splash or a spray.

Aftershave

Popular with men because they are gentle to the skin as they are less concentrated. Aftershave balms are ideal for men with sensitive skin.

Fragrance Families

There are four definitive families that make up the majority of all fragrances.

Floral

The essence of roses, gardenias, jasmine and lilies creates classic feminine fragrances. For the romantics, nothing is better than the soft, sweet smell of a bouquet of flowers.

Oriental

Rich, sophisticated and confident. These are statement fragrances that feature the scents of patchouli, sandalwood or vanilla. They are perfect for evenings, fall and winter.

Woody

A walk in the forest comes to mind with these fragrances. Cedarwood, pine, moss and amber create down-to-earth, sensual, classic scents.

Fresh

Think of the sea, fresh cut grass or juicy citrus and other fruits. These are the light-hearted scents of summer, relaxing weekends and playful fun.

 

The Fragrance Wheel

While there are four main families of fragrances, each of these can be broken down into further. The Fragrance Wheel can help guide you through the relationships of the 14 different fragrance subsets within the 4 families.