A wonderful fragrance is the finishing touch to any show-stopping look. Capable of imparting memories and expressing elements of your personality otherwise kept hidden, choosing a signature scent is laborious but endlessly rewarding. Take the science out of the sniffing by following our top tips below.

Try only three scents at a time


Image via Maison Margiela

When searching for a new scent, it's tempting to simply stop by your local counter and try out everything in sight.

In truth, you’re probably doing those delicious perfumes a disservice. Science shows that the olfactory bulb can tire after three strong scents, so take your time and spread your trials over a few visits to get the truest impression.

If you’re in a hurry, ditch the coffee beans that plenty of stores leave out as a "palette cleanser"—strong coffee can actually temporarily deaden certain synapses. Simply head outside into fresh neutral air for a few moments instead before you resume your search.

Read more: Causes and cures of a loss of taste and smell

 

Always test on the skin before dismissing


Image via Gorge Netau

Paper samples are great, but they’re no match for testing straight onto the skin. Apply in a warm spot such as wrist, neck elbow or décolletage and see how it develops over the day.

Top notes last about 20 minutes, but the heart of a fragrance should linger for at least 4 hours, meaning that it might smell quite different from a quick whiff of the bottle.

If you’re between scents, spray on each wrist and leave overnight. As the scent develops, you may find that you have a clear winner.

Read more: Fantastic home remedies for your skin

 

Tap into past memories and play with personality

Just like jewellery or clothes, a strong signature fragrance should say something about you. Shy but quietly confident? Try out a more sensual woody fragrance like patchouli or sandalwood to draw out some inner poise.

Looking for something more playful and flirty? Cool, fresh citruses and traditional flowery scents like jasmine and forest fruits offer an overtly feminine aroma.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider smells you have admired on other people over the years or favourite places, foods and feelings. Perfume can be a very evocative experience and a great way to relive old memories.

Read more: The secrets of smell—solving crimes and saving lives

 

Consider your concentration


Image via Jo Malone

Eau De Parfum’s are more concentrated than Eau De Toilette’s, meaning a stronger more vivid scent. If you’re new to perfuming, start lightly and build up from there—many brands offer perfumes in both concentrations to allow customers to experiment.

The heat of summer often strengthens the intensity of a scent naturally, so consider using a toilette for summer and save the parfum for cooler days.

 

Try out "fragrance cocktailing"


Image via The Sunday Girl

Ever found yourself layering two perfumes for extra nuance? It finally has a name—fragrance cocktailing is all the rage and ensures a completely unique scent.

Try out a combination of scented moisturizer underneath a perfume, or a light spritz of a summery scent to liven up a more wintery musk. Florals and musks create a sultry evening smell or pair a spice and a vanilla for a feminine daytime scent.

If you’re lacking in natural alchemy, Liz Earle offers a wonderful and easy to follow layering service, available online and in store.

 

Go with your gut

Sometimes we simply can’t explain why we love a fragrance—we just do! Try not to be overly influenced by packaging or the opinions of others as scent is a very personal thing and it’s more important that your chosen fragrance makes you feel confident.

While a signature scent is amazing, a well-curated perfume library can be just as satisfying. Enjoy the process and how it makes you feel. While some perfumes can be eye-wateringly expensive, a good smell can last a lifetime.

 

Read more fashion tips from Jenessa Williams

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