Have you ever walked into a perfume store looking for that fragrance you just saw on a spectacular advertisement? You see the beautiful bottle standing on a fancy display and shining out your name, but as soon as you try it, you are left blank and feeling sheer disappointment?
Seconds after the fantasy that brought you there in the first place has crumbled, the thought of finding something else of your like in the universe of scents before you seems quite a daunting task. So you finally decide —in the best case— to leave empty-handed.
The next time you visit a perfume shop to indulge yourself, make sure you follow these 5 steps that will ease the selection process:
1) Do Some Research
Don’t take it wrong, but getting familiar with the vocabulary of scents—from notes to olfactory groups—before you actually step into a store makes things run smoothly. Analyzing the scents you already own or have owned is a good starting point. Online resources like Osmoz or Fragrantica can provide you with very useful information. This way when you show up in a store you will feel more confident with perfume. Remember, the worst thing you could do is grabbing and buying just anything.
2) Define the occasion
Ask yourself on what occasion(s) you are planning to use the fragrance: everyday use, at work, for special occasions, as a gift or just to stand out from the bunch. Some fragrances are intended for specific conditions, for example, stronger scents (with woody and resin accords, and in EDP concentrations) are more suitable for cool weather. The excess of moisture that usually comes with warmer conditions would make these fragrances overwhelming. In case you have a substantial knowledge in the world of perfume, or you are just tired of overly commercial fragrances, your best bet will be to explore the realms of niche perfume – that’s where the real fun exists.
3) Try different olfactory groups
Comparing fragrances from different olfactory groups will give you a clearer picture of your preferences. The best thing to do this if you’re new is to take in no more than five scents in a single visit. Being able to identify fragrances and categorize them takes practice, but good news is that there are only four main groups — floral, fresh, oriental and woody — to assimilate. Once you identify the aromatic family you like the most, you can adventure into subgroups.
4) Ask for help
Never shy away from salespeople. If you have any questions it is better to ask them. Part of their job is to assist you. Keep in mind that a good salesperson will cater to your needs and will always show open to your requests, instead of pushing you to buy this or that fragrance. If you already are familiar to a scent you find quite delightful, ask for similar items, chances are you will enjoy them too. If on the other hand you are looking for something different than what you are used to, come to the store with an olfactory group in mind and ask for samples of products pertaining to such group.
Unless you are on a very tight budget, price shouldn’t be the starting point for picking a fragrance. With so many options and price ranges on the market, the best advice is to select a few fragrances that speak to you, and later decide on which one offers you the best value for your money, which doesn’t always mean the cheaper options.
As you can see, perfume is not a precise science, but an art, which can be perfected through practice. Go beyond the stories evoked by particular perfumes, experiment their compositions and create your own story with them. You will be enchanted by all there is to know in this mysterious field.
Written by David Requena