The Basics of Scent and Fragrances for Women

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With all of the scents available today, shopping for new perfume can be overwhelming. Not only are there different scents available, but they also come in various fragrance concentrations. However, choosing your signature fragrance doesn’t have to be difficult! Keep on reading to understand the different types of fragrances and how you can select and regularly use a fragrance that complements your personality and style. 

Fragrances 101: Understanding Fragrance Forms and Notes

A fragrance is a complex combination of chemicals that gives each cologne or perfume its unique scent. Fragrance ingredients can be derived from natural sources or synthetic raw materials. 

Performed oils are dissolved in a solvent to preserve a pleasant mixture of scents. A higher concentration of oils typically means a stronger fragrance. The strength of the fragrance determines how long the scent lasts on your skin. 

Fragrances come in various forms. Generally, they fall into these categories:

  • Eau De Cologne. It contains around 2 – 3% aromatic compounds. It can last between 1 – 4 hours.
  • Eau De Toilette. It contains about 5 – 20% aromatic compounds. It can last between 4 – 6 hours. 
  • Eau De Perfume. It contains around 10 – 30% aromatic compounds. It can last between 4 – 6 hours.
  • Perfume. It contains about 20 – 40% aromatic compounds. It can last between 3 – 8 hours. 

Fragrances are commonly broken up into three kinds of notes: top, middle/heart, and base notes.

  • Top Note. The top note is the initial, lighter smell of the fragrance that immediately hits the notes after application. The top note lasts from 15 minutes – 2 hours. Typical top notes include citrus, floral, powdery, and fruity scents. 
  • Middle/Heart Note. The middle/heart note contains the main elements of the fragrance. These notes develop after the top note clears, and can last around 3 – 5 hours after application. This is in addition to the top note; they build off of each other. Heart notes typically include heavier floral scents (i.e. jasmine) and spice scents (i.e. cinnamon). 
  • Base Note. The base note is the last to develop. These scents are typically the bolder notes of the scent which become more noticeable over time. Base notes lay the foundation and will determine how long the fragrance will last on your skin. They tend to last around 5 – 10 hours after application. Typical base notes include sandalwood, vanilla, leather, and musk.  

Perfumes: Your Guide to Different Scents

Perfumes fall under different categories of scents. Understanding what they are beforehand can be helpful before making your next perfume purchase. 

  • Floral. By far the most popular scent option, floral perfumes are feminine, romantic, and light. These perfumes contain the scent of either one flower (i.e. rose) or a combination of several varieties. 
  • Oriental. Oriental perfumes are sensual and warm. They are made from spices, such as vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves and they tend to be muskier and rich. 
  • Woody. Woody perfumes provide an air of mystery and sophistication. While largely favored by men, women can use woody-scented perfumes too. Made from oakmoss and sandalwood, woody perfumes tend to be dry, warm, and musky. 
  • Citrus. Citrus perfumes bring to mind open spaces and the outdoors. Commonly known as fresh or green notes, citrus perfumes are often made from orange, bergamot, and lemon and are then accentuated with herbal notes to give that refreshing scent. 

Selecting the Best Perfume for You: Tips and Tricks

Now that you know the basics of scents and fragrances, it’s time to choose the best perfume for you! Do you go floral and oceanic, or choose something muskier? Deciding on a signature scent usually comes down to personal preference, but it can still take time. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you determine the best fragrance for you. 

  • Select the scents that you enjoy. As a starting point, list down all of your favorite smells. From earthy, woodsy scents to clean laundry and freshly cut grass, your favorites might vary greatly. But no matter – the important thing is that you remember all of the scents that mean something to you. That way, you can choose a perfume with similar notes. 
  • Consider your personality and style. If you love getting dressed up, choose a scent that lingers and that matches your glamorous outlook on life. On the other hand, if you usually wear little to no makeup and love going outdoors, choose a fresh and clean scent versus something musky or spicy. The idea is to choose a fragrance that best represents your personality and style. 
  • Ask for opinions. Talk to your family and friends and ask what they think. Is the fragrance too strong? Do they like it? Does it linger too long? Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but having a second (or third) opinion can be helpful. 

The Takeaway

It is important to note that every fragrance smells different from one person to another. It’s this complexity and uncertainty that intimidates many women, but if you look at it as a discovery process, it can become a fun journey. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different scents and fragrances!

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