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Finding the right perfume for you

by Lisa Lyford
Finding the right perfume for you

I recently changed my perfume after using the same one for 20 years!! I know, I’m always encouraging people to inject variety into their lives and here I am wearing the same perfume for 20 years. In my defence, it’s not through lack of trying. 


I don’t know about you but I found it really hard finding a new perfume. I was a ‘Chanel 19’ girl - my husband bought it for me and I loved it so much I found it really hard to replace. I’d tried others along the way but kept resorting back, nothing compared. Whenever I travelled overseas, I’d try out lots at the airport duty free stores either sprayed on card or on myself.


There’s a reason it’s not so easy - it happens to be a complex business, not to mention oodles of choice with thousands of fragrances on the market.


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Understanding perfume

The following might give you a better understanding of why you might be better suited to some perfumes over others.




Fragrances are made up of ‘notes’ which give them all their unique characteristics. There are four key fragrance families:


  1. FRESH - these often have ‘green’ notes, like freshly cut grass, smells of spring, light, airy, citrus smells.

  2. FLORAL - probably the most popular category - think single flowery blooms or mixed floral bouquets.

  3. ORIENTAL - notes that are rich, spicy, bold and overall exotic. Notes like amber and vanilla are often present in this group. Oriental fragrances tend to be heavier by nature.

  4. WOODY/CHYPRE - think earthy, woody (sandalwood, cedarwood and oak) and moss-like notes.


Your personality type will have an impact on what style fragrance you suit.



Note types


There are three note types, and whilst this may not impact on your initial purchase, it will explain what you smell and when:


  1. Top note - the first time you smell the perfume once you’ve sprayed or dabbed it on your skin. It only lasts about 5-15 minutes. If only it lasted all day!

  2. Middle note  - lasts for about 30-45 minutes, these notes are intended to mask the base notes (below) until they’ve had time to settle and be at their optimum.

  3. Base notes - gives the fragrance its depth.


Don’t commit to a perfume until you’ve smelt its final, base note.


This helps explain why I myself lose the smell of the perfume but others can still smell it on me hours after I’ve sprayed it on.


Skin Chemistry


Everyone’s skin characteristics and smells are different. Have you ever tried on a friend’s perfume that you simply adore on her but it’s completely wrong on you? Skin chemistry has a lot to do with this. Our skin chemistry can change too - if we’re stressed, our diet, ageing, etc.


Perfume Types


  • Eau de Cologne - is the masculine scent and is approx. 2-5% perfume oil in a mixture of alcohol and water.

  • Eau de Toilette - containing between 5-8% perfume essence, Eau de Toilette is mixed with alcohol instead of water. A light scent designed for a shorter wear on the skin.

  • Eau de Parfum - 8 -15% perfume oil and mixed with alcohol. It is more expensive than Eau de Toilette but lasts longer on the skin.

  • Parfum - the most concentrated and purest form of perfume essence, the longest lasting on the skin, and as you'd expect, the most expensive. A true Parfum contains 15-30% perfume oil.



Trying on perfume


  • Talk to the experts. Their consultation and expertise is free, though having said that, you tend to pay more for the perfume than if you were to buy it online, but it’s worth it. They’re specially trained to work out what’s best for you.

  • Spray test perfume on to the tester cards first and then wait for 10 minutes or so for it to settle - to get past the Top Note.

  • Once you've narrowed down your options to say two, then try the perfume on the skin. It's only once it's on the skin that you will experience the true nature and full potential of the fragrance. 

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  • Don’t rush your decision - smell it and think on it overnight.

  • Your nostrils can get a little overwhelmed with all the fragrances you have been smelling. Apparently, if you smell a clear patch of your skin (that doesn’t have perfume on it, say your shoulder), that helps to neutralise your nasal senses. I personally haven’t tried it, but it’s worth a go. Apparently also, smelling coffee beans has the same neutralising affect!

  • The best approach is to try a few perfumes at a time rather than all at once - just don’t take 20 years like I did!



Where to apply perfume?


  • For optimum benefit, apply perfume to the key pulse points of your body: center of the neck, behind the ear, inner wrists, and behind the knee.

  • Apply perfume right after your shower - your pores will be open as a result of the shower and will absorb the scent better and for longer. Moisturise first.



Care for your perfume


  • Keep it away from heat and natural light.

  • Use it - don’t save it for best, it only has a life span of 6-18 months; lighter scents having the shortest life.

  • Don’t shake your perfume.





  • Avoid your clothes - some perfumes can stain the fabric or even strip colour out! 

  • Be careful wearing perfume on your neck in the summer; over time, the combination of perfume and sun can permanently discolour your skin.

  • Don’t rub your perfume once you’ve dabbed or sprayed it. All this does is dilute the perfume on each spot and cause it to evaporate faster, especially the First Notes.



Back to me...’ll be pleased to learn that I have finally moved on to another perfume, Chanel Allure Sensuelle. I LOVE it and I get so many complements and enquiries about what I’m wearing. I went into a department store and gave them an open brief - they asked what I’ve had in the past, what I like and don’t like and then I tried lots.




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