Finding Your Fragrance

….is no small feat. But the allure of having a scent that “feels like you”, is powerful. Let’s break down some terminology and the categories of fragrance, so that your next trip shopping for a fragrance is a tad easier.  


Note Terminology

When comparing and testing out fragrances, you will often hear the word “note” [which essentially means “ingredient(s)”]. The three types of notes to be aware of are the base note, middle note and top note. The base note is the heaviest ingredient—it is the ingredient that enhances the other scents in the blend, and is responsible for the longevity of the fragrance. The middle note has qualities somewhere between the base and top note, and is often referred to as the “heart” or “body” of a fragrance. And the top note is the lightest note, the first thing you will smell and the first of the fragrance to disappear.   



These three general categories of fragrance are distinguished by the concentration of the fragrance, letting the consumer know how long it will last, respectively. Eau de Cologne has the lowest concentration, 2-4%, meaning it will have the lightest waft of fragrance comparative to the other two categories, and will fade away the soonest (so reapplying is fine). Eau de Toilette has a 4-8% concentration, offering a middle-ground option. And Eau de Parfum has the highest concentration at 8-15%, making it the longest-lasting of the three categories.


Scent Descriptions

There are many, many blends of ingredients out there, lending their own unique scent description. The best way to know which scent you vibe with is to try them out, but here are some basic keywords to keep in mind (so you can ask for help in discovering other fragrances you might like):

  1. fresh/clean
  2. floral
  3. fruity/citrus
  4. spicy
  5. musk
  6. sweet
  7. woody/earthy/greens



Testing is essential, so to make sure you can test the most perfumes without getting a headache, make sure to utilize those little paper strips most places offer. Also, if you are debating between several scents, bring little zip-lock baggies to separate and carry home your scented paper strips so you can compare the scents later on. Remember that it will smell differently on your skin than it does on the paper (due to your unique body chemistry, heat and hormones), so once you have chosen a scent, make sure to go back to the store and test it on your skin before purchasing.


If you feel lightheaded or overwhelmed while sniffing different perfumes, take a break by smelling coffee beans—it “cleanses your palate”—or you can also smell your own un-fragranced skin for the same cleansing effect.


Finally, due to smell being strongly linked with memory, consider changing up your fragrance by season, occasion or event. It will help you distinctly remember a period of time in your life or a wonderful vacation, every time you smell it.