Types of Scents
Women's perfumes come in different concentrations, each with a different name. The higher the concentration, the stronger and longer-lasting the scent.
Aftershave/Splash – This usually contains 0 to 1% concentration and will last for up to an hour.
Eau Fraiche – This usually contains 1 to 3% concentration and will last for up to 3 hours.
Eau de Cologne – This usually contains 2 to 4% concentration and will last for up to 3 or 4 hours.
Eau de Toilette – This usually contains 5 to 15% concentration and will last up to 6 hours.
Eau de Parfum – This usually contains 15 to 20% concentration and will last up to 8 hours.
Perfume Extrait – This usually contains 20 to 30% concentration and will last up to 12 hours and beyond.
How to Buy Perfume
When going shopping for perfume, here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:
Be patient – It takes time to find the right perfume. Give yourself at least an hour so you have plenty of time to test each perfume—not just the short-lasting top notes, but the deeper base notes that take time to mature.
Use blotters – Don't spray directly onto your skin. First test on a blotter, spraying from 5 inches away and giving about 30 seconds for the perfume to dry. This will give the alcohol time to evaporate and the middle notes to come out. Spraying on your skin is the final test to narrow down your last two or three options.
Sniff gently – Don't put the blotter right up against your nose, but sniff it gently from a distance. Any contact with your skin could deposit scent molecules that could interfere with your ability to smell other perfumes.
Be open-minded – You may not have liked certain floral, spice, or citrus scents in the past, but don't be closed to anything. Give your sense of smell a chance to try new things and you may just be surprised by the combinations of scents that work.
Take a break between scents – Always sniff coffee beans between testing various perfumes. This is a "palate cleanser" that will neutralize other perfume odor molecules. Having a sip of water between sniffs can also help to restore your sense of smell.
Understanding the "Notes":
• Base Notes are the subtle, underlying scents that only kick in after 30 minutes or so. They form the foundation of the fragrance.
• Middle Notes are noticeable within a few minutes and are the "heart" of the fragrance. As the sharper, more prominent Top Notes dissipate, the Middle Notes emerge. They are the longest-lasting and blend with the Base Notes.
• Top Notes are the immediately perceived scents, the sharper, brighter, stronger notes that are the initial perception.
Don't buy a fragrance based on the top notes. Instead, spray the cologne and give it a few minutes for the middle notes to come out. You need to give the cologne time to "settle in" so you can smell the actual fragrance, not just the initial scents.
Finding the Right Scent for You
What type of scent should you be looking for? It all depends on your style and personality.
Citrus scents are clean, tangy, and lighter than other scents. Minimalists love citrus scents, and you'll find they can be very sporty and clean.
Floral scents are fresh, sweet, and soft, with a very feminine appeal. The scents tend to be more "romantic" and feminine.
Oriental scents are musky, heavy on vanilla, and have more power than the lighter scents. For the more fashion-forward and edgy, Oriental scents make you stand out from the crowd.
Woodsy scents are rich and spicy, with a deep potency. If you want something sexy and seductive, get a perfume with heavier woodsy notes.
Check out this amazing chart for more information on the scent notes:
Where to Apply Perfume
When applying perfume, you always want to hit the "pulse points". This means the parts of your body where the blood vessels run close to your skin. For women, the pulse points include:
• Back of your knees
• Behind your ears
• The hollow of your neck
However, there are other places you can apply it to even further enhance your smell:
• Inside of your elbow
• Down your back
• Belly button
A single spritz or drop of perfume to these points will be enough to absorb the perfume into your bloodstream and keep you smelling gorgeous all day long.
How to Wear Perfume
Want to make sure you're wearing your perfume right? Here's what you need to know:
Just a little bit – A single drop or spray of a higher-concentration perfume (parfum or eau de parfum) will be enough to absorb the scent into your blood and last all day long. Don't over-apply perfume; too much can definitely be a bad thing, especially if the smell is very strong.
NEVER rub – Rubbing your wrists together after applying perfume will alter and degrade the scent. Spray the perfume onto each wrist and let it dry naturally.
Spray your hair – Just a light spritz to your hair will do wonders to make you smell better. Every time you move, the fragrance will waft off your hair and create an aura of beautiful smells around you.
Mix it up – Try to find 3 to 4 different perfumes, perhaps even one per season. A bit of variety will make the scents more appealing, and will prevent odor fatigue.
Spray when wet – Spray perfume after you've toweled off, before you get dressed. The moisture on your skin will help to absorb the perfume into your bloodstream faster and make the scent last longer.
Moisturize – If you're going to moisturize your skin, apply the lotion before the perfume. Not only will this prevent the lotion's scent from overpowering the perfume's, but the oils and fatty acids in the lotion will help to absorb the perfume scent molecules faster and more effectively. Tip: Use an unscented moisturizing lotion to prevent clashing smells.
Be careful what you spray – Sometimes it's nice to spray perfume directly onto your clothes to make them smell nice, but the alcohol or fragrances in the perfume could leave stains. Test both the clothes and the fragrances before spraying.
Watch out for the sun – If you're going out into strong sunlight, be aware that the alcohol in the perfume can interact negatively with the sun's heat and UV rays. You may end up with a rash, irritation, or even a sunburn at the points where you apply perfume.
Fragrance Hacks to Make Your Perfumes Last Longer
Want to ensure those pricey perfumes last as long as possible? Try these simple tricks:
Store in a cool, dry place – Direct sunlight and heat can degrade the perfumes and weaken the scents. NEVER store your bottles of perfume in direct sunlight, and try to keep them in a cool, dry place during the hot summer months. If you can, store the perfumes in your fridge. The moisture of your bathroom can also degrade the fragrances in the perfume, leaving only the alcohol.
Keep the box – If you don't have a lot of perfume storage options, store the bottle inside the box. The box will protect it from sunlight, heat, and moisture, ensuring the perfume lasts longer.
Spray your drawers – Cover your drawers with paper towels and spritz them lightly with the perfume. Once the towels have dried, place your folded clothes in the drawer. The perfume will give your clothes a nice scent that will last all day long.
Rub Vaseline first – To extend the lifespan of the scent molecules, apply a thin layer of Vaseline to your pulse points before spraying the perfume. The occlusive ointment will absorb the scent molecules and keep them on your skin for longer. The result: a longer-lasting smell.
Spray the hairbrush – Spraying perfume directly onto your hair can dry it out, especially if there is a high alcohol concentration in the perfume. Instead, spray your hairbrush. The scent molecules will cling to the oils on your hair and scalp, giving your hair the beautiful smell without risking damage by the alcohol.
Spray the pillow – Spraying your pillow with perfume will not only help you sleep better (with the beautiful smell), but will encourage the scent molecules to be absorbed by your skin.
Bring cotton swabs – Spray cotton swabs or Q-Tips with your perfume and store them inside a Ziploc or sealable plastic bag. Throughout the day, use the swabs to dab perfume as a "touch up" to smell nice even after the initial application wore off.
Mix it up – When your perfume bottle is almost empty, open the top and pour those last drops into an unscented moisturizing lotion. The mixture will be perfect for using up the last of the perfume and giving your skin that beautiful smell—all the while moisturizing!
How to Layer Perfume
The "in" thing is to wear more than one perfume, using multiple perfumes in "layers" that work together to create a unique scent. But layering is NOT easy! If done incorrectly, it could result in some odd smells. But if done right, it can make you seem fashion-forward and chic.
Here are some tips to help you layer your perfume right:
• Go easy on it – A light spritz of each layer will ensure that the final scent isn't too overpowering. This is especially important if you're working with more than 2 or 3 layers. Heavy-handed spritzing could lead to an overly-strong scent by the time you're done..
• Heaviest to lightest – Apply the heavier, deeper scents first, and finish off with the lightest, cleanest scents. This will ensure the lighter scents are detectable and not overpowered by the heavier scents.
• Stay in the family – Whether you opt for woodsy, floral, citrus, or Oriental scents, make sure all the layers use the same "scent family". Some notes (like vanilla, musk, or citrus) are more versatile, but try to stick with perfumes that have notes in common.
• Give it time – To ensure the scent combination works, give the perfumes an hour to properly dry and absorb. This will also allow the scent to work with your own unique body odors and pheromones. A scent combination that works for one person may not work for another.
• Layering starts in the shower – You begin to layer those scents by using shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and moisturizing cream. Be aware of these added scents when beginning to layer the perfumes.
If done right, layered perfumes can be absolutely stunning and attention-grabbing!
Expert Perfume Tips
Cosmopolitan assembled perfume experts and asked them for advice on the best perfume tips:
Mix it up. A variety of scents (up to 6) will give you versatility and variety, all while smelling beautiful.
Go classic for a job interview. The "unfussy" smells of a classic perfume will be much better for an interview than strong or overpowering scents.
Go warm for a first date. Find fragrances that are warm and spicy to intrigue a man or woman on a first date.
Gender doesn't matter. Don't worry about whether it's a man's cologne or woman's perfume—all that matters is that you find the scent that you like and that works for you.
Find the matching set. For lighter perfumes, try to find the matching gel and body cream (often sold in a set). The addition of the shower gel and cream will help to accentuate the scents and make it last longer.
Spray your scarf and coat the night before. Heady perfumes can be overwhelming if freshly applied to your skin, hair, or clothes. Spray your scarf, coat, and/or hat the previous night so the scent has time to soften before you go into work.