Top Tips for Women's Fragrances
The Scent of a Woman
There’s something magical about the scent of a woman. The natural fragrance entices men through pheromones. A well chosen fragrance can combine and enhance the natural scent.
Women's perfume is a perfect companion. If worn correctly it can kiss and caress, drift and dance, float and flirt and in general enchant the target audience. If chosen wrong, it may cloy and cloud, obscure and obfuscate, irritate or be inane.
Choosing the right perfume is not easy. Many women I know tend to find the ones they like and then sometimes stick to it forever. Not a bad tactic, to be in the comfort zone, but you may be missing out on newer fragrances.
If you are wondering whether to venture out and buy yourself a new perfume, or perhaps find a gift to a friend, look no further.
If you are a man who has wandered in here to look at the pretty pictures, maybe you have an occasion coming and are lost on what to buy your loved one. Why not a good perfume then, because it’s a gift that keeps giving!
The Language of Perfumes
The word perfume comes from per-fumer or through smoke- as this was how fragrances were dispersed before perfumiers invented oils and alcohol bases, just by burning ingredients!
Women have a much better olfactory sensitivity than men. They could smell a wider range of notes.A note is how the perfume smells over the duration of its lifetime on the skin. The aromatic compounds that are mixed as essential oils with the alcohol tend to ride the waves around you in different speeds.
The very first note is the smell you experience soon after application. This is often the opening note that attracts the buyer. However, the much deeper and longer lasting notes are the ones that follow. The middle note usually arrives after the first 30 minutes or so and can be quite different to the opener. The base note or the end note is the one that lingers on the skin, can be smelt for hours afterwards and is what is palpable on close contact.
The sillage is the lingering smell left behind by the wearer. It is a beautiful French word meaning the wake that follows the boat in water.
The Fragrance Classifications
Most women usually possess more than one perfume, two maybe three or more. You may have one for casual wear, one for office wear and maybe one for those nights of seduction and elegance. Some recommend ( maybe the manufacturers!) that a woman should possess at least a couple of perfumes from each of the fragrance categories.
What are the fragrance categories. These are the classification of various aromatic oils into families of four- Citrus, Floral, Spicy/Oriental and Woody ( or Chypre- pronounced Sheep- pra). See the fragrance wheel above.
These are fresh, bright, fruity or citrusy notes. They can also be the smell of cut grass and freshly mowed lawn. They have a clean air, fresh and breezy. They are great for summer and springtime, day wear and casual wear. They are also good if you commute to work and help mask the vagaries of travel. The citrusy notes may not always be long lasting depending on the concentration as they sometimes have a watery note too, full of sea breeze and sunshine.
The flowery essence of all feminine fragrances. These can use a medley of floral oils, usually jasmine, rose, lily and gardenia. These floral notes could also be layered with the opening burst of year round floral bouquet underlined by white flowers such as white lily orchid and may even overlaps with some cut grass and lime.
The heady exotic blend often incorporates oriental notes such as sandalwood, herbs, vanilla and patchouli. OF late the perfumers are getting braver and adding more and more spice to their notes. Pepper and pimento that is usually found in men’s perfumes are finding their way to women’s too, moving many perfumes into the unisex category.
This heady, down to earth smell has pine, moss, amber and cedarwood. Of late fresh tobacco leaves and musk have started the trend. These tend to lend themselves well for nightwear and elegant evenings.
But there are no rules, just your skin and your perfume. Mix and match, throw caution to the wind, be a free spirit. Make a heady cocktail of your smell and the perfume is far more than what the perfumer intended and will create a fragrance of its own.
Understand the Strengths
Percentage of aromatic oils to alcohol
Extrait de parfum ( perfume extract)
only in perfumers
Esprit de parfum (ESdP)
only in perfumers
Eau de parfum (EdP)
10-20% ( usually 15%)
Eau de Toilette (EdT)
5-15% (usually 10%)
common- medium prices
Eau de Cologne (EdC)
3-8% (usually 5%)
common- regualr prices
Apres Rasage ( after shave or splash))
Top Tips on Wearing Perfume
- Perfumes are personal, they do smell differently on different people. So what smelt great on a friend may not always smell good on you.
- Test it first on the card, and perhaps take the card and smell it later . You need at least 10 minutes to smell the middle notes.
- If you are already wearing perfume it may confuse the olfactory senses if you blast something else over your wrist and smell. Don’t try more than three at a time it can be overwhelming.
- If you want to cleanse your olfactory palate take some coffee beans in your handbag and sniff them in between trying your perfumes- this resets the nose!
- When you wear them go for the pulse points- inside of your wrist where you can feel the pulse, crook of your elbow, behind your ears and down the cleavage. Some even wear them behind the knees and also close to the intimate regions ( be careful!)
- Some go as far as having a quick blast in cotton wool and secreting in the bra for that everlasting effect but this may lead to embarrassing incidents if you get intimate!
- The spray in the air and walk-through technique helps an even dispersal.
- Even the strongest perfumes don’t last more than 4-6 hours- so renew them
- Wear different ones for different moods, different times of the day.
- ‘Layering’ helps – buy body lotion, shower gels in the same product and use them simultaneously to enhance the longevity of the perfume.
Top Tips for 2011
My selection for 2011 includes old favourites and brand new contenders. As expected the seasonal favourites are the citrus and floral scents to mark the spring and the arrival of summer. But there are dark horses, sensual inviting woody perfumes too for that night of intimacy. I have gone for a broad range, defying age and occasion. I have smelt many of these and they may also reflect a male perspective- my nose is nowhere near as sensitive (or as beautiful) as yours are!
So take this with a pinch of salt – or a whiff of the tester!
Madison Square Park by Bond No.9
Brand new for 2011. Created by Laurent le Guernec for the perfume house Bond No.9 this takes it’s inspiration for New York itself, and more specifically the floral wonders of Madison square Park.
It is reminiscent of summer days in the park, floral, fresh, free with a hint of fresh earth and family days out. It starts with a burst of hyacinth and huckleberry followed by notes of Prairie grass. Then comes the delicious blend of rose and tulips that blossom on your skin, leaving floral notes dancing around you. The fragrance is anchored by vetiver, hoptree and little woody note of teak. It is a park in a bottle.
The innovatively designed bottle has a green floral bracelet that can also detach to be worn as a brooch!
Versense by Versace
The Mediterranean woman. The fresh summery look of a floating linen dress, olive skin glowing in the sun, smelling of olive, lime, mandarin and exotic spices. Versace has gone for fresh with sensuous for this perfect blend of summer goodness.
Starts with mandarin, bergamot, olive wood and cresses your nose with hints of cardamom. It opens its heart with floral notes of daffodil and yet more woody goodness of olive and cedar. You get gentle accents of sandalwood ever so slightly and the cardamom nicely accentuates the overall base along with jasmine and musk.
The notes transcend the layers and mix into a very wearable blend reminiscent of the olive grove and Italian sunshine.
Angel by Thierry Mugler
One of the most successful perfume from the Mugler house, this keeps going strong despite being released in 1992. This heady mix of chocolate and candy has no floral notes at all. No wonder it has been highly addictive for its wearers.
This is sassy, saucy and sexy inviting the nose with its chocolate , caramel goodness and caressing with patchouli and berries. This opening blast never lets go, maintaining a sugary afterthought of honeys and yet more bergamot. It was marketed as a smell of innocence and memories, but smells more knowing than that.
It knows its effect, positively broadcasting confidence and sexuality.There have been many versions of Angel, but the original still keeps going strong, strutting its strengths with the confidence and covetousness of 9 inch stilettos. It scares me yet strangely lures me!
Be Delicious by DKNY
Could it fresher than a cucumber? The watery goodness and crispy crunchiness is enhanced further by Grapefruit and led by the floral note of Magnolia. It is a clever mix, opening brightly with citrusy blast of Grapefruit and then layered with the golden delicious apple sweetness. The heart note retains the apples all the way and stays crisp and clean with an added line of rose, tuberose and violets.
The base notes linger of bright outsides with white amber and wood. Very straightforward in its approach, fresh, bright cheery like a happy go lucky youth it attracts. Excellent for days out in the sunshine, shopping, with maybe alfresco conversations accompanied by chilled glasses of wine. Be fresh, Be delicious!
Preppy Princess by Vera Wang
Although the campaign is aimed at preppy princesses, this works for all ages. It is casual, cool, fresh and perfectly suited for daytime wear. It has a youthful exuberance of tangerine, berries and red apple to open the notes and melds into the sweet gorgeousness of honeysuckle and jasmine.
The basenotes have the exotic blend of woods and coconut water, with a sudden gust of sweet tropical breeze. It is quite delicate and watery, so will need to be reapplied but is not overly cloying even when first applied.
Twirl by Kate Spade
A brand new contender for a beautiful bottle, thankfully contains a beautiful perfume as well. It is very straightforward and elegant without being pretentious.
It opens with floral notes and a splash of fruit mostly blackberry, pink watermelon some red currant. Before you go juicy fruit, it brings on a heart of orange blossom and magnolia with the exotic hint of sweet jasmine. It is full of fresh fruity burst and vivaciousness. The base notes are layered with musk and a hint of French macaron.
It is a nice new combination, transcending day and night, outdoors or indoors. Great for a party or an intimate personal outing, it is joyful, enchanting and very desirable.
Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel
The house that Coco built has always oozed charm and sophistication. This one is no exception. But unlike the frosty distance of Chanel with its haughty beauty and sophistication, Coco mademoiselle is youthful, fresh and more outgoing yet without losing any of the classy maturity.
It opens with orange, bergamot and grapefruit to entice the olfactory nerves and keeps us hooked with the freshness until the heart opens up with litchi, rose blossom and Italian jasmine. This is a heady and heavenly scent to inhale while citrusy freshness still remains. The real treasures are yet to come in the basenotes that linger on the skin, the mature sophistication of musk, patchouli and vanilla.
This is when you feel like a standing ovation. It is enchanting without effort, with the cool confidence of a sexual sophisticate. The man has no chance!
Red Door by Elizabeth Arden
Despite being around a while, this fragrance has recently reinvented itself as a floral festivity.
It has the top notes of rose, ylang ylang with some fruity overlay soon laying open the heart of a veritable bouquet of floral notes- lily of the valley, Moroccan orange flowers, jasmine, carnation, freesia and wild violets all dance in a floral medley.
The basenote has honey and musk with some vetiver. There is a lingering woody sensuality of oakmoss and sandalwood. Nice woody bouquet with a floral elegance.
Even though it sounds like a potpourri, it does enhance and entice but perhaps needs to be sprayed lightly especially if you are planning to be in enclosed spaces. Very elegant and fresh.
Incredible by Victoria's Secret
They haven't had a great line up of perfumes before, often ending up as lesser imitations of the other fashion houses. But VS has made the effort, tying up with good perfumiers to create their new perfume.
This new fragrance by VS augments perfectly their new lingerie collection. It is very sexy and daring with its blast of white peach and water lily and even a hint of pear. Like a freshly made fruit salad it entices with a summery crunchiness in its fruity opener, inviting a bite, a coy nibble. As you get close the heart opens with its seductive enchantment of magnolia, honeysuckle and Iris flower.
This floral heart makes you dizzy with pleasure. As you are hooked, it reveals the base notes, the utterly heady concoction of vanilla, sandalwood, liquid musk and wait, some coconut milk. A shiver just ran through my spine, and beyond. This is a fragrance worthy of the VS brand.
Femme by Herve Leger
This brand new fragrance for the hosue of Avon is a perfect balance of fresh bright opening and a sensuous caress. Very cool and seductive to match the ad campaign.
It knows how to tease with opening notes of Chinese magnolia and Sicilian grapefruit that rolls off the skin and reveals a heart of Moroccan orange blossom. Just when thinks start to get interesting, it rolls over, winks and undresses for the smoky and seductive base notes of juniper wood, Cyprus wood and vanilla.
It is classy and enticing. It also can be layered with the branded shower gel, moisturiser and roll on.
The One by Dolce and Gabbana
Whoever thought of the name for this one, chose well. It is perfect blend, layered with a keen nose of a master perfumier.
It almost makes it very hard to pick out the individual notes by its expertly nuanced segue from the beginning, middle and the basenotes. It opens well with fruity goodness of mandarin and peach, held from excessive fruitiness by bergamot. It opens its heart with jasmine, muguet and Madonna lily giving a nice floral counterbalance to the fruit.
It leaves a lingering basenote for hours, of vanilla, musk and vetiver but nicely spruced by plum. Very nicely mixed, as the sum of its parts is much, much more than the individual elements speak of. Highly recommended.
This is seduction in a bottle as referenced by the simmering ad campaign and the gorgeous bottle design.
It has an exquisite sillage without overpowering. The beginning has peach and pink pepper, nicely nuanced by mandarin. The seductive heart has lilac and geranium to tug at the strings and hypnotise. But the basenotes really do entice with amber and patchouli. Utterly delectable. Immensely wearable.
The hotter one gets, the more it gives. Phew! (not that I know; -)
© 2011 Mohan Kumar