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The Perfume Diaries - How to Choose a Perfume

Updated on January 29, 2014

Perfume: DeMystified

I find it so absolutely wonderful that we are all so different that the same one perfume can be sprayed on five women and each will smell different.

Perhaps I finally understand where the term "signature" in scent comes from. And probably why we shake our heads when telling our friends , "Oh I just love this, it's so woodsy" and they reply "Woodsy? Ugh, it's too sweet for me!".

How an essential oil blends on our skin is so unique, so absolutely individual.

Of course it also depends on the percentage of essential oils in the product. Most of us are aware that there is pure perfume and then there is cologne. What makes ones stronger (longevity) and more noticeable (sillage) is that each has its own percentage of essential oil.

So, what is perfume ?

What experts consider a real perfume will have at least 22% essential oils, Eau de Parfum follows with 15-22%, Eau de Toilette 8-15%, Eau de Cologne 4-8% and Eau Fraiche 1-3%.

This is good to know if you like a perfume to be noticed or one that has a softer presence.

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Scent Families

You'll find websites and blogs written entirely about perfumes and their origins and the people who make them but the one thing you'll discover is that they all fall into certain scent families when being described.

A scent family is a category they fall under. Is it a floral? A fruity? A woodsy? An Oriental? How can you tell?

A perfume to me is like a fine wine. The wine gets better with age just like the perfume releases it's notes sometimes minutes and often times even hours after it has been applied.

That is why it's suggested you wait for a couple of hours before deciding on a new perfume. Rarely does it release it's unique personality in an hour. As the day wears on it may surprise you!

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The Fragrance Wheel

Floral, Fresh, Woodsy, Oriental - Which Scent are You?

If you have an idea of what type of scent you are attracted to, it makes it easier to sample what's on display at the perfume counter.

Some retail outlets have software programs that will recommend perfumes based on your preference for fruity, woodsy, spicy etc. If not, the salesperson should be able to help you select.

I have read many different categories of scent families, but a scent usually comes from one of these families or even a combination of two of them :

Florals: (Can be light, airy, sweet) Any type of flower, rose, gardenia, lily, lavender.

Fresh: (light, fresh) Oranges, pineapple, lemons, raspberry, apricot etc.

Woodsy: (Earthy) Bergamot, oak moss, sandalwood, cedar wood, patchouli.

Oriental/Spicy: (Warm and Sensual) Frankincense, vanilla, musk, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and amber.

The complexity of a scent is dependent on which oils have been used, how they have been combined together blending the final perfume which is so much more complex than a small article can ever explain.

Like food and wine, you will also hear perfume as being described in terms of warm, earthy, dense, smokey, exotic, heady and powdery to name only just a few.

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Can't find your favorite perfume? - Try eBay for those vintage, hard-to-find perfumes !

I didn't think I'd ever buy a perfume from eBay until recently. After searching everywhere for a favorite perfume, I finally looked on ebay and found it!

Bid on it and GOT IT!!

I'm thrilled! eBay is a great place for finding vintage, hard to find and discontinued perfumes.

Great Perfume Buys on Amazon

I love Amazon for all the great deals and have become one of it's best customers when it comes to buying perfume. How do they do that? Sell name brand fragrance at such great prices? I'm not complaining!

Fancy by Jessica Simpson 100ml 3.4oz EDP Spray
Fancy by Jessica Simpson 100ml 3.4oz EDP Spray

Rumoured to be just as nice as Prada "Amber" at half the cost! A sweet, oriental with vanilla and caramel undertones.

Marc Jacobs Honey Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Fluid Ounce
Marc Jacobs Honey Eau de Parfum Spray for Women, 3.4 Fluid Ounce

Like the name suggests, this is a white floral, meaning light and airy with a hint of citrus and honey. Very fresh!


What a Perfume Can Do to a Man AND for a Woman!

Beautiful cinematography in the newest Jean Paul Gaultier ad.

The Best Way to Purchase a New Perfume

You can never tell what a perfume will smell like on your skin by spraying it on a piece of blotter like they do at the perfume counters.

Yes of course the blotters have their purpose but only for you to differentiate when you go home which ones are which. That is why it’s a good idea to be prepared when you shop for perfumes


It’s important that you wear nothing on your skin - not even lotion when shopping for a new scent


I know that some “how to buy perfume” articles will tell you not to try more than four on your skin but I find even four too many. One on each wrist is more than enough. Whatever you do, don’t spray and then rub your wrists together. You’re smothering the scent when you do that. It’s much better to spray a scent on your wrist, wait till it dries and then smell.

Also, don’t let the sales person spritz you with any perfume. This is mainly to protect your clothing and god forbid you don’t like it and it follows you around on your coat for weeks.

Often times it’s better to get out of the store as soon as you can to experience the true smell. It’s very hard to smell one scent only at a perfume counter full of many different scents


Have a pen handy and write the name of the perfume on the sample blotter for later. Unfortunately, I have a whole pile of nameless samples at the bottom of my purse because I've forgotten to mark down the name of the sample perfume. It really does save you so much time when you return to purchase.

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A sassy little commercial from Guerlain advertising their perfume La Petite Robe Noir (which is wonderful by the way!)

Looking for a Great Perfume at a Good Price?

Prada Infusion D'iris by Prada For Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 3.4-Ounces
Prada Infusion D'iris by Prada For Women. Eau De Parfum Spray 3.4-Ounces

Introduced in 2007, this woodsy oriental with powdery undertones is still as popular as ever! One of their best sellers!

Justin Bieber Someday, Eau De Parfum Spray,100ml/3.4 oz.
Justin Bieber Someday, Eau De Parfum Spray,100ml/3.4 oz.

Florals, musk, vanilla with top notes of pear and orange. If you're not a fan of the perfume put it away and cash in on the collector craze 20 years from now!


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Signature Scents

And it's okay to have more than one!

I remember as a child recognizing my Mother's scent (Opium) which she has worn forever and now my son recognizes it as well. If we are out together and another woman walks by him and has that same perfume on he'll say "That smells like Nana". Isn't it wonderful to be remembered through a perfume?

Unlike yesteryear, today there are thousands of perfumes available to you (no wonder it is SO intimidating out there!) and also boutiques specializing in combining the essential and will blend a perfume JUST for you


Women today wear not just one, but many different scents depending on the climate, their mood and the event they're going to. And why not! We are forever growing, evolving and experiencing and so we should with our scents.

I hope you've enjoyed this very small intro to the fascinating world of smell. As for me, I am off to purchase something new and delicious in perfumes!

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I'd love to Hear About You & Your Perfume Experience !

Do you wear perfume yourself?

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Have any perfume stories to tell? - Favorities? Some not so favorite?

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