Before you can choose a fragrance you need to know the basics. Perfumes fall under several categories of scent and it can be helpful to know what they are before making your next perfume purchase.
Probably the most popular scent option, floral perfumes contain the scent of either one flower (rose, gardenia, lavender) or a bouquet of several varieties. Floral scents are feminine and romantic. If you like floral fragrances, try Daisy by Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren Romance.
These scents tend to be muskier and small rich and slightly spicy with hints of vanilla, cinnamon and clove. If you like Oriental fragrances, try Dior Addict by Dior or Flower by Kenzo.
This family of perfumes are characterized by an earthy, woodsy scent, with hints of oak, moss and citrus. Try Gucci Rush 2 Perfume by Gucci.
Think fresh cut grass, crushed leaves and other fresh, cool scents that bring to mind the outdoors and open spaces. If you like green fragrances try DKNY Be Delicious Green Apple.
Meaning fern in French, this family of scents is stronger and often used in men's fragrances. They contain hints of oak, moss and fresh herbs. If you enjoy the fougere scents, try Havana Pour Elle by Aramis.
These scents are influenced by the sea and evoke being by the ocean (sandy beach, salty air). Oceanic scents are clean, almost-masculine with hints of spice and citrus. If you like oceanic fragrances try Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden or Cool Water Woman by Davidoff.
Step into a forest and these are the notes you will get with a woody scent. Think pine, cedar, sandalwood - scents that are earthy and musky. If you like woody scents, try Black by Bvlgari.
Understanding fragrance notes
Chances are the fragrance you choose will also have several "notes." Perfumes often contain layers of scents to create their unique bouquet. These layers are referred to as notes, and rather than noticing only one type of scent (rose or vanilla), you'll pick up on several notes that become more apparent over time. So what you smell at the beauty counter will change by the time you get home.
- Top notes: This is what you smell immediately upon applying your perfume. It's the scent that first hits your nose, but then evaporates quickly.
- Middle notes: The middle notes emerge as the top notes are dissipating and make up the majority of the scent.
- Base notes: These notes are richer and are not often detected until you've been wearing a scent for at least 20 to 30 minutes. These notes provide depth and back up the middle notes to create the overriding theme of the scent.
Tips to select the best perfume for you
Consider scents you enjoy.
Make a list of your favorite smells as a starting point. From clean laundry and freshly cut grass to campfires and lilacs, your faves might be all over the place. No matter: The point is to remember the scents that mean something to you so you can choose a perfume with similar notes.
Think about your personality.
If you usually wear little to no makeup and love the outdoors, opt for a fresh, clean scent versus something spicy or musky. If you love getting dressed up and can't help but think of yourself as glamorous, choose a scent that lingers and that matches your notice-me outlook on life. The idea is to choose a fragrance that best represents who you are.
Test perfumes before buying.
You can't tell much from the scent strips in magazines or fragrance testers at department stores; plus, perfume smells different after you've worn it for a few hours, as we mentioned. So before getting out your wallet for the first scent you spritz, ask for a larger sample and try your potential new fragrance for a few days before you commit.
Ask your friends and family what they think. Is it too strong? Does it linger too long? Do they like it? Ultimately, the choice of fragrance is yours, but a second (or third) opinion on whether it suits you is helpful.