I thought I would write a little today about perfume. As women, when we think of beauty, we tend to automatically think of skin care regimes and make up. But for me, an essential that you should also consider as part of your beauty regime is perfume. Why would I say that ? Well, I think that perfume is something that augments our image, in a different way to makeup. When I get made up, I’m putting on a face for the world to see (and hide my wrinkles) but perfume has always seemed to me to be a more personal affair, something that I wear to express my personality in a subtle way and something that I carry around with me, for me. I guess what I’m saying is that its more about how you look, it’s about how you smell !!! Scent is strongly linked to our emotions as women and the right perfume can make us feel anything from incredibly feminine to alluring sexy.
Buying the right perfume for you can be immensely challenging !!! Typically, we’ll pop along to the chemist or a department store where we are literally bombarded with smells and aromas upon entering, it’s a little like running a gauntlet !!! Next we’ll seek out a few testers and maybe spray them on a sample strip, after which point, we’ll probably be in sensory overload !! It’s important to realise three things, firstly, not all fragrances are right for you and you need to choose one that complements rather than masks your “natural scent”. Secondly, just because it smells good on a friend, doesn’t mean that its going to smell the same on you. Lastly, buying a perfume is a significant investment and you want to take your time when buying it, so that you can be sure it suits you.
Choose a fragrance family
Before I wrote this article, I didn’t even realise there was an official fragrance family chart !!! Within a few minutes though I found that there are four basic families to choose from : Floral/Sweet, Citrus/Fruity/Fresh, Oriental/Spicy, and Woody/Chypre. If you are extrovert, you’re probably going to be drawn to scents that are fresh, citrus, or flowery. Conversely, if you are introvert you’ll probably find Woody/Chypre are more appealing to you. If like me, you’re a girly girl you’ll find that oriental scents suit you perfectly. There’s no golden rule to this though and you’ll find that the one you choose will reflect our mood, season, and even time of. For different situations we’ll also choose special scent, for example I have my LBD special for a night out, as well as the one that I wear day to day.
Next choose the type of perfume that you’re looking for
Depending on your budget limitations there are a few things to be aware of here. There are basically four different categories of perfume, which reflect the percentage of fragrance compound they carry in their base.
- Eau de Cologne has 2-5% fragrance compound.
- Eau de Toilette contain 5-20% fragrance compound.
- Eau de Parfum contain 10-30% fragrance compound.
- Perfume Extracts contain 20-40% fragrance compound.
Created in 1922 by Ernest Beaux, one of the best floral / Sweet perfumes you can buy is the timeless Chanel No 22. A timeless scent, I use this regularly when I’m just getting ready to socialise. It’s a warmer and more interesting fragrance than the initial impact of white flowers might lead you to think. Leaving a pleasant flowery smell that lasts for a good 4 hours, making it ideal for an evening out with friends.
If you’re more into a Citrus / Fruity or Fresh fragrance, then Gucci’s Flora could well be for you. I don’t personally have this, but when I tried it at Boots (oh the glamour…….!) I found personally that it was sweet but not overpowering. As the scent dissipates, you get to smell both the floral and the fruit in it. The day I wore it, I had some really nice compliments from friends and have guess that I would wear it when I want to smell “pretty” and feel extra feminine.
Oriental / Spicy perfumes are sensual, warm and sexy and the perfums last for absolute ages !!! So it’s no wonder they’re often among the top selling types of fragrance on the high street. Combining exotic woody undertones like sandalwood and musk, with spices like clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as exotic flowers, this family of fragrances oozes warmth, sensuality and depth. Oriental fragrances usually have distinctive top notes of orchid, bergamot and mandarin which add a fruity-floral twist. A really good budget choice is angel by Thierry Mugler. Its all my friend Rebecca wears (not literally, I mean it’s the only one she wears !!!)
Lastly, we come to the Woody Chypre style of fragrance. This isn’t so much of a personal favourite of mine, so I’ll hand the reins over to Siobhan who is an absolute fan. “I luuuuurve Acqua di Parma by Profumo. This suits me absolutely down to the ground and I wouldn’t consider my handbag as complete without it. Once it settles onto the skin it’s such as classy, warm, feminine scent and is just made for summer when its time for long flowing dresses and high heels !!!”
So, that’s a little about the fragrance families and types, but how do you go about choosing and shopping for them ? Well, here’s what I did when Zoe told me which ones I should be looking for…….
Choosing the perfect perfume for you
Thanks to the amazing Zoe, I was lucky to start with, I had a relatively short list to choose from, but if I wasn’t, I’d draw up a list of a couple of my favourites from my chosen fragrance family and then pick the one that suited my budget. With this behind me, what I then did was take a couple of days to go shopping and try a sample of each one on my pulse point rather than a strip of paper that I was looking to buy each day. This helps you not only get a sense of how the perfume smells on the skin, but also how it lasts and changes during the day. By not trying lots of them, you also don’t risk overloading your nose and getting confused about which one was which !!!
I also found when you go about buying this way, the shop assistants tend to give you a little more time and the benefit of their training, rather than just leaving you, thinking that you’re just browsing. Speaking to Linda at the Dior counter in Whiteley shopping centre she told me her top five tips for not just selecting, but also wearing your fragrance.
- Your sense of smell is keener as the day wears on and warmer weather. Shop later in the day so you can truly and best smell the different perfumes. You’ll get to appreciate the different layers that change as time passes.
- Don’t forget to consider your skin type when making your purchase. For example, If your skin is tends to be dry the scent will tend to dissipate quickly and so you should choose a highly concentrated perfume such as an Eau du Parfum, which will have more staying-power than an Eau de Toilette.
- Where you place your scent makes a big difference !!! Apply perfume to your pulse points (centre of the neck, behind the ear, inner wrists and behind the knee). If you place perfume in one or more of these places, you find you won’t have to re- apply it during the day !!!
- To keep your perfume lasting longer on your skin, rub a bit of petroleum jelly on your pulse point where you place the perfume. Or apply it immediately after showering or bathing when skin pores are open and will be absorbed more easily into the skin.
- Once you find your scent, choose complementary toiletries that will coordinate perfectly and never clash. Often you’ll find that your perfume will come with a complimenting body lotion, but if not, choose something neutral – Linda’s own favourite is Simple body lotion, which is completely unscented.
And the result of all this excellent advice ? Well for me, my ideal perfume turned out to be Hypnotique Poison by Dior. (I have to say, Zoe was right) Created as long ago as 1998 by Annick Menardo, it’s a wonderful blend of Jasmine vanilla, musk and almond which lasts perfectly all day while I’m at work, with it needing a little touch up if I decide to go out with friends in the evening, just to give it a bit of va va voom. After all, you never know who you’re going to meet !!