Ultimate guide to perfume

The art of making perfumes can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where chemists distilled flowers, oils and other scented produce. In times when bathing was rare, perfume was worn by the wealthy to disguise body door, and eventually became a commodity around the 17th century. Today, while most of us shower more often than the Victorians, we still enjoy a spritz of special scent to enhance our natural aroma. However, considering the number of perfumes available, selecting a scent can be a tricky activity. To help you out, here is your ultimate guide to choosing and applying perfume.

Speaking the language

Perfume is categorized according to the concentration of its raw scent. In your average department store, you will see two types of perfume: Eau de Parfum and Eau de toilette. Parfum is more concentrated – and therefore, more expensive – while toilette is lighter.

Choosing your scent

You might be surprised to know there is an official scent chart, which was most recently updated in 2010. According to this chart, there are four perfume families: floral, oriental, woody and fresh. Within these families there are 14 sub-groups, mostly describing the strength or type of this scent. The floral family obviously comprises flower-based scents, while oriental flavors includes spicy, asian-inspired aromas like vanilla and incense. The wood family includes patchouli and sandalwood-type scents, and your fresh smells are mostly fruity.

The best scent for you can depend on a number of factors, including your natural smell, the time of day, and the weather.  Some say a floral, sweet scent is best for day time, while a heavier oriental or spicy scent is more desirable at night. Similarly, stronger scents are better in the cold, lighter scents should be worn in summer.

It is vital to try before you buy, as the very same perfume can smell different depending on the person wearing it. You should spray perfumes on the cards provided in department stores and let it sit with you for a while – giving you time to absorb the different notes. If you still like it after ten minutes, try it on your skin. It is often recommended that you take a sample, try the perfume for a few days, and then make your final decision.

Helpful hint: Many stores provide coffee beans which serve to “cleanse your palette” or refresh your sense of smell. Be sure to sniff these in between samples to give you a clear sense of that perfume.

How to apply

  • It is best to apply your perfume after you shower, as your clean and open pores will better absorb the scent. Avoid using strong-scented shower products or moisturizers that will conflict with or overpower your perfume.
  • It is always best to apply directly to your skin, more specifically to your pulse points which can be located on your neck, behind your ears, on your wrists and in the inner elbows. Applying to the skin will also prevent your perfume from staining your clothes or jewelry.
  • Some people enjoy “spritzing” the perfume into the air and walking through to mist their body. However, this can waste a lot of your perfume, and doesn’t stay on your body for long.
  • Don’t rub your wrists together – the heat caused by the friction can actually change the scent!