Fragrance Tips from an ‘Industry Insider’

Perfume Tips

This holiday season, I’ve been working in the fragrances department of a major department store. As such, I’ve learned a thing or two (or nine) about fragrances that all perfume-wearers should know!

  • A commonly-asked question that I get is, “What’s the difference between Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette?”. Do be aware of this difference! The short answer is that Eau de Parfum has a higher concentration of essential oils and has a stronger smell, meaning it’ll linger longer, while Eau de Toilette is lighter and you might need more to get the same scent-payoff. The long answer is that while this is often the case, some brands make their EDT and EDP of the same fragrance smell completely different. For example, Givenchy’s Hot Couture EDP is more of a mature, Chanel-Number-5-esque scent, while Hot Couture EDT smells like raspberries and cotton candy. When in doubt, ask an associate!
  • Don’t buy a fragrance based exclusively on brand, designer, or gift with purchase. You may love the idea of having Gucci perfume, but if you end up hating the smell, the fact that it’s Gucci won’t make it smell any better. Similarly, the fact that it comes with a cool iPad case or nice weekend tote won’t make you like the smell more. It drives me nuts when people come in and buy a fragrance just because it’s a particular brand!
  • On a similar note, do explore other fragrances from designers whose scents you already like! I love Marc Jacobs fragrances, so when he brings a new one out, I always smell it to see what I think. If you already like a designer’s fragrance, you might like the spinoffs of it or other scents in the line.
  • Don’t judge a fragrance by how it smells on the nozzle of the bottle or on the blotter card. How a fragrance smells on you will likely be totally different because of the pH of your skin, your skin’s chemistry, and your body heat. If it smells even a little interesting to you, try it on or get a sample so you can wear it and see how you like it!
  • Do give a scent a chance! Fragrances are alcohol-based, meaning that the scent will change (usually becoming softer and less harsh) after the alcohol evaporates. Give a fragrance 20 minutes to an hour on the skin for the alcohol-smell to dissipate before you decide how you feel about it.
  • Don’t rub it in! It pains me to see people do this. When you spritz a fragrance on your wrists and then bash them together like a glamorous seal, you’re crushing the fragrance. This alters the scent, usually eliminating any sweetness or softness to it.
  • Do layer fragrances! If you like them separately, chances are you’ll like them together. Experiment!
  • Don’t limit yourself to a ‘signature scent’. Some people still like them, but the general verdict seems to be that the signature scent is a thing of the past. Mix it up!
  • Don’t rule out colognes! Try not to let gender expression stop you from trying out an interesting-smelling cologne (or perfume!). I love Givenchy Pi on me. Smells like Lucky Charms.
  • Do be smart about purchasing extras. If you don’t think you’re going to use the shower gel and body lotion, splashing out an extra $20 on a set for items you won’t use might not work out to be such a good deal. Some new, interesting extras that are sometimes available are minis or rollerballs that are great for the purse (ask about gifts with purchase of these!), deodorants (think the classic Donna Karan Cashmere Mist), and hair mists! Hair mists are alcohol-free, so they won’t dry out your hair, and you get to smell like your scent from head to toe.

    That’s it: the best tips from a fragrance insider (haha)!

  • Comments

    1. Thank you for the informative post! I’m usually overwhelmed at the perfume counter and my problem is I want to try on every scent I see! Now I know you’re supposed to wait 20 mins for the scent to adjust to your body but what if I wanna try like, 5-10 of them at one time? LOL, I’m so greedy!

      • Hm, definitely ask for samples if they’re available! That way you can take ’em home and try a new one each day. If you really want to try several at once, do one fragrance on each wrist and one on either arm/elbow area! But then you have to make sure what you remember what you sprayed where, haha! c:

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