How Do I Choose The Perfect Perfume?

For those new to the world of luxury fragrance, navigating the vast assortment of products available on the market can be an overwhelming experience! 

Finding the perfect fragrance will take some trial and error. You'll have to smell many different scents to understand better what you do and don't like to narrow down your options. However, there are several other factors to keep in mind as you search for your signature scent. 

This helpful guide will give you a better idea of what to look for in your new favourite fragrance!

What Makes For A “Good” Perfume?

A good fragrance doesn't have to be from a designer brand, nor does it have to be expensive. However, there are several key things to keep in mind when searching for your new signature scent. These tips work for women’s and men’s fragrances, too!

A good perfume strikes the right olfactory balance. The compilation of fragrance notes should be complex so that the fragrance isn’t flat but not so unusual that it is overwhelming or confusing - or downright bizarre.

For example, Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium is a complex women’s fragrance with a top note of strong coffee that is balanced out with warm orange blossom, a hint of sweet vanilla, and the gentle warmth of patchouli. It’s complex, but not too much. 

A good perfume should also have excellent sillage, longevity, and projection - three factors that could make or break your perfume choice. The different top notes and base notes of perfume might influence your choice, too - if a fragrance that you love has vanilla base notes, looking for other fragrances that share the same base notes could be another new favourite!

A sensual and complex fragrance of sharp coffee, warm orange blossom, and sweet vanilla.

What Are Sillage, Longevity, And Projection?

Have you ever noticed when someone passes by you or leaves the room, the scent of their fragrance lingers? This is the sillage of their fragrance. Sillage refers to the trail of scent left behind from perfume or cologne. It varies from fragrance. Depending on where you're wearing your chosen perfume, you may prefer a fragrance with a more robust or softer sillage.

Longevity refers to how long a perfume lasts on your skin. Like sillage, the longevity of a fragrance varies amongst the products. However, longevity is largely influenced by the perfume’s formulation, how it performs in conjunction with your skin’s chemistry, and where you place the perfume. 

No one does it better than Tom Ford! Black truffle, orchid, bergamot, and patchouli create the perfect unisex fragrance that's intoxicating and sensual.

A fragrance’s longevity can be amplified by applying lotion before spritzing on your product. Place it strategically in places such as the wrists, behind the knees, behind the ear, and at the base of your neck. These body points tend to hold onto fragrance for a prolonged time.

Projection is a term that can often be confused for the sillage. However, the difference is that projection refers to how far out your perfume radiates into the air. The fragrance projection can change based on how long the scent has been sitting on your skin. At first, it may be powerful but dies down as the perfume wears down. 

Spicy cardamom, sharp leather, and jasmine sambac create a long-lasting fragrance with a moderate sillage!

What Are The Different Perfume Formulas?

The formulation of the perfume you choose can also affect the longevity of your fragrance. 

All perfumes - including unisex perfumes - are created using a mixture of alcohols, traces of water, and aromatic oils. The fragranced oil gives the perfume its fragrance, and these oils are extracted from fruits, plants, and woods. The concentration of oil in the perfume composition will determine the category the fragrance falls into.

What is an Eau de Toilette?

Eau de toilette, also commonly shortened to EDT, has a much lower oil concentration. It can range from 5% to 15% concentration but usually falls at 10%. Eau de toilettes tend to last on the skin for two to three hours. 

A revitalizing unisex fragrance with notes of bergamot, lemon, jasmine petals, and sweet fig.

What is an Eau de Parfum?

Eau de parfum, also commonly shortened to EDP, has a 10% to 20% concentration and usually has about 15% of aromatic oils. It is the most popular concentration on the market and can last on the skin between four to five hours.

An irresistible and classic fragrance with notes of iris, rose, peach, and tonka bean.

What is a Parfum?

Parfums, sometimes called Eau de Parfum Intense, have the highest concentration of fragrance oil available. They are the most potent, and the composition is usually between 15% to 30%. As a result, parfums tend to have the most longevity and can last on the skin for eight hours.

A seductive fragrance with bright neroli, orange blossom, vanilla, and creamy coconut.

What are Perfume Oils?

Pure perfume oils are a little harder to come by, but several brands do carry perfumed oils! These incredible formulas are the most potent and have extraordinary longevity because they are not diluted with alcohol or water. However, they don't tend to have as much projection or sillage as traditional spray fragrances.

A complex citrus floral blend of jasmine, neroli, and geranium will linger on your skin all day long!

What are Fragrance Notes?

Paying close attention to the fragrance notes will help you discover what you like and dislike and help you understand your fragrance preferences.

What sets a good perfume apart from a mediocre one is the different layers of fragrance notes and how they meld together to create a fragrance experience! All fragrances will have top notes, middle notes, and base notes.

Top notes, also commonly referred to as the "opening" of a fragrance, are the notes that you can smell immediately after applying the perfume.

Middle notes, also called the "heart" of the fragrance, are scents that surge forward once the fragrance's top notes have faded.

The base notes, sometimes called the "dry down," are the final scent notes that appear after most of the fragrance has disappeared.

Good fragrances will have a complex variety of notes that play off each other to evoke particular emotions, feelings, or inspiration!

This masculine fragrance from Dior uses notes of Sichuan Pepper, Calabrian Bergamot and Vanilla to create a sensual aroma like no other.

Find Your Perfect Fragrance

Now that you have a better idea of what makes a "good" perfume, it's time to smell around! Look at the fragrance notes and keep in mind what you like and dislike. Then, decide which formulation better suits you. 

One way to try multiple fragrances from a single perfume brand is with fragrance discovery sets - these smaller-sized fragrances are perfect for travel and for trying a smaller size of a perfume without committing to the full size.

Finding the perfect fragrance will take some trial and error. However, once you understand your wants and needs, you'll be one step closer to discovering your signature fragrance! 

Products Mentioned:

  • Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum
  • Tom Ford Black Orchid
  • Tom Ford Ombre Leather
  • Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi Eau de Toilette
  • Miss Dior Eau de Parfum 
  • Dolce & Gabbana The Only One Eau de Parfum Intense
  • Theseeke Jasmine Neroli Geranium Oil Perfume
  • Dior Sauvage Eau de Parfum
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