A scent to call your own is out there, somewhere.

A scent to call your own is out there, somewhere.

Have you ever wished you had a “signature scent” – a fragrance so unique that when you walk through a room, people know it’s you without looking up? (Cool Water? Uh-oh, Marcy’s here!) A scent that will rule out certain future girlfriends for your ex because they will remind him of you, and he won’t know why?

Yes, sometimes it seems that everywhere you go, all the young ladies are wearing Alien and all the older ladies are wearing Chanel No. 5. But there are literally millions—okay, literally thousands—of scents to choose from, and one of them might better describe your character than the perfume grandmother wore or the one that smells like it should come with purple lip gloss. You are unique, and your scent is going to have to be unique as well.

The descriptions that accompany perfumes are of little help. “This reminds us of an evening on the canals of Venice after a surprise windstorm” they might say. “A bicycle trip through the California wine country with a bag of oranges in your basket.” “The musk of a flirtatious hyena filtered through the wildflowers of the savanna.” None of these will give you any clue about how a specific scent will smell on you.

The ingredients are also unlikely to help unless you already know what a tonka bean or an “oud” smell like. But this can actually become a pseudo-scientific way to find a good scent. After you’ve smelled a few things you like, you can look at the lists of each perfume’s “notes” to see if they have something in common. Maybe that tonka bean is the very thing that attracts you, and you should look for it in future scents!
Perfume names won’t be of much use. Who would imagine that one of the top-selling vanilla scents is called Black Opium? Is vanilla—that fragrance we associate with MeMaw’s baking days and plain white ice cream—best summed up by the words Black Opium? I guess calling it Pink Cupcake wouldn’t have evoked the same aura of mystery.

You might get a better head start by learning the categories that perfumers use. Floral perfumes smell like … flowers. (You were ahead of me on that, right?) Gourmand perfumes are “scents that smell like food.” I personally love dark chocolate, but I’d find it annoying to wear a dark chocolate scent all day because I’d keep looking for that Mounds bar in my pocket. Oriental scents might remind you of incense, and Floriental smells like incense in a garden full of flowers.

Finding your signature scent is like finding the perfect pair of jeans—you have to try them on one at a time. I know, it’s hard to leave Sephora smelling like only ONE perfume—but that’s how you’ll find the right one. Spritz on a sample, wear it home, and if you don’t feel the need to immediately shower it off, you are on the right track to finding a scent you can live with—and even love.
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