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How to Choose the Best Fragrance

A scent has the power to relax or enliven you, to lift your spirits or help you sleep. I’m sure you’ve experienced the power of a fragrance to take you back, down memory lane, recalling certain people, events, places, and things.Your “sense of smell” is actually located in your brain, so it can influence your mood and memory, and help you meditate and focus.

By BlackBeauty.

Photo: makeupdoctress.blogspot.com

A scent has the power to relax or enliven you, to lift your spirits or help you sleep. I’m sure you’ve experienced the power of a fragrance to take you back, down memory lane, recalling certain people, events, places, and things.Your “sense of smell” is actually located in your brain, so it can influence your mood and memory, and help you meditate and focus.

Each perfume has it’s own identity, and uniqueness. That’s why what smells good on one person may smell awful on another, and why one scent will make you feel like the whole world and with another you feel just regular. Nothing brought this home to me than when I received a gift recently – a 50 ml eau de toilette bottle of Elizabeth Arden’s “Red Door”. I was excited to receive this designer fragrance and couldn’t wait to use it. I started using it one morning, before leaving for work, spraying some on my wrists, behind my ears, and in the nooks of my elbows. At first I was overwhelmed by the pungent flowery scent, but I thought maybe it just had a strong first note that would fade away with time. That did not happen.

All through the early hours of the day I felt a bit depressed. The scent filtered through my nose, into my head, swirling around my brain, and all I kept thinking was gosh, the way I smell today!

Don’t get me wrong, “Red Door” is an amazing fragrance. My sister finally inherited it and she loved it absolutely; it helped that she smelt great wearing it, too. It’s just that, somehow, my body chemistry didn’t work with it and I ended up smelling like a mix of stale flowers and stuffy clothing.

It’s not enough to go out and buy a fragrance because it smells great on someone else or because it’s made by your favourite designer or just because you like the way it smells when sprayed. You need to interact with a fragrance, wear it for a while, and experience it with your senses, before you find out what works best on you. This may take repeated tries and purchases, but the journey will be worth it when you finally find the fragrances that resonate with you.

First, do you know fragrances come in different types?

I’m sure you know. You’ve bought bottles with eau de parfum, cologne, or eau de toilette written on them, but do you know the real difference?

The key difference is the amount of perfume concentrate each contains. The higher the concentration of perfume the less you need to apply, the longer the scent, and the more expensive it will be.

Parfum (perfume) is the most potent and most expensive and contains anywhere from 22% to 40% perfume concentrate. Parfum fragrance will last longer and require less application than the other products.

Red Door by Elizabeth Arden. Photo: forget-flowers.co.uk

Eau de parfum is the second most potent and contains 15% to 22% perfume concentrate. The scent lasts long enough, but not as long as parfum.

Eau de toilette is less potent with 8% to 15% perfume concentrate. The scent is light but does not last as long. It’s an affordable option to parfum and eau de parfum.

Eau de cologne is usually confused with eau de toilette but it is different. It contains an average of 4% perfume concentrate. A modern version of eau de cologne is known as eau fraiche, with just 1% to 3% perfume concentrate.

At the bottom of the products chart are the Body splashes or Body Sprays and After Shaves. These products have the least amount of perfume concentrate, so the fragrance will not last very long, and you’ll need to apply a lot to get the scent going on for at least all morning..

Choosing the best fragrance for you

Now you’re sure of the types, how do you choose fragrances which work for you? You may be head over heels in love with one already (I know that feeling, “Tommy Girl” by Tommy Hillfiger does it for me); however these few noteworthy tips may help. Remember that choosing the best scent can be a long hard task for some people. So, make it fun, pick out one day and visit the perfume stores. You can make it a date with friends and loved ones, as their compliments can help you select the best.

1. Oily skin holds in scents better than dry skin. So before you test or wear a fragrance, make sure your skin is well moisturised. Your regular body lotion has its own fragrance, so it’s good to find out if the scents of both lotion and perfume are in harmony before you buy. Alternatively, to get the true scent of the perfume, you may need to go without applying any scented cosmetics like lotions, deodorants, and anti-perspirants.

2. The best place to test for a fragrance is on the insides of your wrist. Spray the scent on your wrist, dab your wrist for a few seconds with your palm, then smell. What you perceive is called the top note, the first impression of the scent on your body. Smell your wrist again after an hour, this is the middle note. Be sure you like it. After about four to five hours of walking around, having  some fun, smell your wrist once more. This is the base note. Observe how these three notes appeal to your senses. You can ask a friend, too.

3. If you find it hard choosing, ask for a perfume strip at the store. Spray the perfumes you’re considering on each strip and smell. You can take the strips home and take your time sniffing those one by one hours after, to see how well the scent lasts and fades. Alternatively, you can go with little pieces of tissue or cotton cloth in case the stores have no strips.

4. Know yourself and your scents. Do you love flowery scents? Or you’d rather smell fruity? Perhaps you have a bias for earthy and woody notes? I know that I dislike floral fragrances, so I wouldn’t go near one. Find out what suits you before you go shopping.

5. Do not try on too many perfumes at once. This is so  you do not confuse your olfactory lobes – the part of the brain that controls your sense of smell. A minimum of four scents at a go is okay.

The best place to test for a scent is on the inside of your wrist. Photo: lipglossculture.com

6. Be careful when testing in the perfume store. It can be filled with all sorts of overwhelming scents in a variety of notes. A good thing to do after spritzing onto your wrists would be to step outside for a while, into the fresh air, to get a whiff of the fragrance.

7. You can ask the perfume store attendant for help. Tell them what you like, how much you can afford, and what categories of scents appeal to you – whether woody, fresh, floral, spicy, oriental, earthy, or fruity. Many of them are very eager to help customers choose.

8. This is a case where you may have to pay more money for better value. Keep in mind that parfum, especially those of the designer variety, may be more expensive; however, they contain more essential oils, have a better quality scent, and last longer. Only a little goes a long way.

Choosing the best scent is just like choosing the best love. You may receive as much compliments, suggestions, and assistance in choosing but, finally, it’s all about how you feel, how confident you are (when you put it on), and how it appeals to your senses. So if you haven’t found “the one” yet, I have this to say to you – as it is with our passions and our lovers: don’t settle!

 

BlackBeauty is a writer, fun lover, hair and beauty buff, and an artist. She is a jack of all trades and master of all which can be seen in her awareness of a wide variety of topics. She is quite a luddite, but she can do email, and a bit of Facebook. You can send her an email at blackbeautywrites@gmail.com, and she will reply.

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Lulu Oyigah trained as a geologist. She is passionate about nature, writing, arts and crafts, and interior design. She writes, and edits, for connectnigeria.com.

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