Learn how to sample, evaluate and ‘smell’ perfumes to help you choose the perfect scent.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with perfume, find a signature scent and stick to it. But perfume, like fashion, should be all about self-expression: experimenting with different scents will mean you will find and collect perfumes to suit different moods, styles, seasons and occasions.
So what’s the best way to find new perfumes without making expensive mistakes? The key is to give it some time and attention and enjoy the olfactory journey.
We are wired to respond instinctively and emotionally to our sense of smell and that reaction is instantaneous, but scents evolve and change completely with time, so taking some time to slow down and listen to our noses is the key to success.
Fragrances are made out of a number of notes carefully blended to make an accord. An accord is the unique identifying impression of a scent, created by perfumers carefully blending and harmonising different scent ingredients. Some are simple in structure with individual ingredients easy to recognise and others so complex it is almost impossible for most people to identify any individual ingredients.
Perfume ingredients, whether natural or artificial, vary in volatility and molecular size and structure meaning the scents release at different times. These are commonly categorised as top, middle or base notes represented in a fragrance pyramid.
TOP notes are released in the first 15 minutes.
Mid notes also known as Heart notes being released 20-60 minutes after being sprayed.
Base notes projecting between 1 and 12 hours depending on the quality and concentration of the perfume.
Concentration: are you smelling an Eau Fraiche (1-4%), Eau de Cologne (2-4%), Eau de Toilette (5-15%), Eau de Parfum (15-20%), Parfum or Pure Parfum (20-30%). The stronger the perfume the stronger the projection (how far away from you can it be smelled) and frequently the greater the LONGEVITY (how long the perfume lasts on your skin). Most niche perfumes will be Parfum or Pure Parfum. Some people prefer a subtle scent and should look for an Eau de Cologne or Eau de Toilette instead.
All Electimuss perfumes are pure parfums with a concentration of 20-30% with the highest quality oils and ingredients so they project really well and are very long lasting.
Consider what, why, when?
Most people have moved away from the concept of a signature scent in preference of a collection of scents. Season, time of day, what you are doing and who’s around you will all affect your choice of fragrance.
- Do you want a scent for special occasions and parties?
- Are you looking for a versatile scent to take you from dawn to dusk?
- What mood are you in, are you looking for a sensual, comforting scent or something bright and breezy?
- Are you buying it for you to enjoy on your own skin or are you looking to project a message?
Any scent wardrobe has room for all different types of scents to suit the different versions of you.
Perfume should be about self-expression, and some days you will want to wrap up in warm woody spices, and other days you might need a punchier scent to empower you and project a `sense of strength to the outside world.
And if you want a scent that makes you irresistible, consider choosing a scent with your partner. One of our favourite things to do is choose a “wear to share” perfume, a scent that connects you with a partner like a delicious invisible secret you share.
HOW to test and assess scents
Take time, close your eyes and allow the scents to transport you.
Take your time and enjoy and savour the process of perfume analysis to get the most enjoyment. Making it feel almost ritualistic transcends the process of choosing a scent to a sensual experience and an activity in its own right, rather than a means to an end. The majority of people are visually dominant so tune into your olfactory senses: turn down the lights, close your eyes and find a quiet space and time.
Taking time over the course of a day allows you to experience the unique dry down of each scent and how it unfolds.
BLOTTER before skin
We recommend you try scents with blotters (also known as scent sticks, strips or mouillettes) first and then choose the ones you like the most to try on your skin later.
TOP TIPS: Use a different blotter for each scent and write the name of the scent on the blotter before you start so that you remember what you are smelling! It’s also a good idea to lay a piece of paper on the table or surface for the blotters to sit on between smelling them, so the scent doesn’t stay on your furniture.
Spritz and wait
If you are trying several scents (or our entire Discovery Set) we recommend you evaluate them in batches no larger than two or three. Read about the scents on our website, read some reviews online and on social media and choose several you like the sound of.
Hold the blotter with the wide round end and spray the narrow end with the perfume bottle 5-15 cm away from the blotter.
Now leave for 20 seconds before smelling to avoid the initial rush of alcohol. Perfume ingredients are suspended in a formula including alcohol for dilution and stability. Let this pass.
Now it’s time to smell, but don’t be tempted to put the blotter right up to your nose. If you inhale too strongly you risk desensitizing your nose and if it touches your nose you won’t be able to smell anything else. Hold the blotter about 20cm from your nose and waft the stick towards your nose.
What you will smell first at this stage are the top notes. Their main purpose is to give a scent an initial scent and then transition smoothly into the next part of the fragrance. These are generally lighter smaller molecules, some common top notes are citrus scents like bergamot, lemon, orange, lime, as well as some herbs and spices like basil and star anise. Bear in mind that this is only the first impression and mostly you will be the only one to smell the top notes, they will be gone as you leave the front door.
15 – 60 minutes
Mid or heart notes as the name suggests make up the heart of the fragrance. Their function is to retain some of the top notes while introducing new scents to add depth to the perfume. They tend to remain for the duration of the scent, providing some balance and harmony to base notes which can often be more challenging. Typical heart notes are florals like rose, geranium, yasmine and neroli as well as some light woods like pine, sandalwood, cedar and spices like pink pepper or cardamom.
They typically make up around 70% of the fragrance so take your time to judge the heart notes. Try to pick up individual ingredients. Think about how it makes you feel. Does it remind you of something or someone? Put it down and come back to it several times so that you don’t ‘oversmell it’.
Base notes are the foundation of a perfume, they are rich, heavy and long lasting. They begin to emerge towards the end of the first hour working with the heart notes to create the main accord for a perfume. They generally add depth, complexity and resonance to a fragrance with typical base notes including darker and sweeter scents like amber, vanilla, ambergris, oud, musk and patchouli.
Again, take your time and keep returning. You might like to take notes and write down what you think you can smell or a description of the impression of the scent. It’s also great to do this with someone else so that you can compare notes and impressions.
Now it’s time to bare your skin!
Blotters are a great way to explore a number of different scents to find ones you think you like, they can’t predict how a perfume reacts to your skin. Different skin tones, acidity levels, hormones, temperatures, humidity, skin oils / condition and natural odours, all affect the way a scent evolves, making each scent unique to you.
We recommend you start with the inside of your arm slightly above your wrist. Electimuss scents are very high in concentration and quality with excellent projection and longevity, so we advise you to start with 1 spray. Hold the spray about 15-20 cm away and spray once or twice.
Trust your nose
You’re never going to please everyone. Scent is intimate and personal, it exists in your personal space, on your skin, your clothes and your aura so it has to be something you gain pleasure from. And like choosing different outfits for season, occasion and mood, the same applies to perfume.
Whether one day you need something soft and intimate, comforting, playful, light-hearted, powerful or sexy, it’s up to you perfume is one of the most powerful forms of self-expression. Dare to be.
NB If you find more than one Electimuss fragrance don’t forget to take advantage of our Bundles. They provide great value for multiple purchases.