«Fashion changes, style remains» Coco Chanel said, and with style we should choose and use the right perfume, to get the best out of it and to follow the modern etiquette of the most appropriate way to wear our luxury scented elixir
What is a perfume? The charm of a perfume, brief and impalpable but at the same time dense with meaning, can create an air of mystery around those who wear it and tell you about the person, revealing details about their personality.
A perfume is liquid lux, a special gift, a cuddle, a cloud of serenity to lift your spirit. However, firstly you need to choose the right perfume for yourself and then know how to use it correctly. And which is the right one? The range of fragrances on the market is so large that you can easily get confused: eau de toilette, eau de parfum…oriental, woody, flowery…for men, for women, unisex…different concentrations and different families of perfumes which you can choose from.
How to choose the right perfume for you
What kind and which family
First of all we may consider that the scent of an Eau de Cologne will fade within an hour, due to its own structure and moreover concentration of fragrance, while an eau de toilette lasts longer because it contains more perfume oils and an eau de parfum lasts even longer due to its higher concentration of perfume. Finally the most long-lasting is the perfume extract, which contains the highest concentration of all. After having chosen the kind of duration you prefer, we should consider the different kind
of perfumes. Citrusy perfumes are characterized by citrus essential oils like bergamot, lemon or orange which can make up to 70% of the formula of the fragrance giving a fresh, light and short-lasting touch to the composition. Citrusy notes come often with aromatic, green or marine notes which help to get a summery clean, fresh, sporty, casual scent, suitable for energetic, spontaneous and easy going personalities.
Flowery perfumes can be an accord of one flower, «soliflore», or «bouquets» of flowers. They are romantic, feminine and classic. With fruity tones, they give a sense of youth and fun, radiance, suitable for day time.
The fougère are among the most popular perfumes, they are typically masculine and have humid notes of oak moss, flowery accords of lavender or geranium with some citrus at the top. This suits the sophisticated, masculine personality.
Starting out as unisex, the Chypre today meets largely to the taste of the female public. It’s characterized like the fougère by a woody moist base of oak moss and resins like labdanum and with sweet base notes of vanilla and coumarine. The heart is captivating and warm with flowers and the initial hint is citrusy. They can be used day and night, a one size fits all for men and women, with class and elegance.
The woody perfumes have warm notes and at times, are moist like sandalwood and Patchouli, or dry like vetiver and cedar wood. They are masculine scents that are found to complement the spices to become even more important and sophisticated. They are versatile but need to be dosed with care as they are very strong.
The ambery and sweet notes are characteristics of the so-called oriental perfumes, that also present woody impressions like indian sandalwood, resinous like benzoin or labdanum, spices and sensual hints of white musk and civette. Femminine, luxurious and warm, they are suited to a romantic evening by candelight, worn by who wants to show their personality in all its splendor, with an air of mystery and sensuality.
Finally, the leathery perfumes are the most difficult to wear and meet the taste of only a few connoisseurs that desire distinguishment. It’s best with hints of tobacco, they are refined but strong and audacious, masculine; when meeting flowery notes they can become very feminine and intriguing. In general the fresh tones like citrus, marine or aromatics are preferred in the summer period, whilst autumn is more suited to spicy hints and winter to the more persistent tones of amber, leather and wood.
You may choose your perfume also according to your skin type, the more oily your skin is, the more suitable it may be to strong ambery or woody perfumes. On the other hand, on very light skin you may prefer light fragrances with citrus, light flowers or
Test a perfume on your skin before buying it
Trying a perfume on the blotter is not enough to determine whether the fragrance is suitable for you; firstly your skin has a different effect with the perfume to the paper, then you need the time to smell the whole perfume.
Actually every perfume is made of raw materials that you can smell immediately because they are more volatile like citrus for examples (top notes) and of less volatile oils like flowers and fruits or spices that develop after some minutes (heart notes). Finally, after about 15/20 minutes the heaviest notes develop (bottom notes), like ambery, woody, balsamic or sweet notes, and you can appreciate the real, complete perfume.
Take your time, try perfumes on your skin and choose no more than 3 or 4 to test at once because your sense of smell will be affected if you smell too much.
You can help yourself in testing many fragrances by smelling something very different like coffe beans or your clean skin, just to clean your nose to be able to keep on testing fragrances.
Remember that a perfume smells different on each person. The perfume that suits you can be unpleasant on someone else’s skin because everyones natural scent is different and the scent can be affected by skin ph and hormones, if the person assumes medicines or applies different creams or other cosmetics. Food can also have an effect: for example if you eat garlic, onions or drink alcohol, this may affect the perfume you have on your skin and how it smells on you.
Once you have choosen the fragrance that suits you, you may wear it at its best
First of all it’s much better to wear your perfume on a fresh cleaned skin which is ready to accept it, before wearing your clothes: it will last longer and you will avoid unpleasant stains on clothes.
When you are ready for the enchantment, you can spray it into the air and walk through the mist, as Marilyn Monroe used to do, or spray it over your head and wait to be perfumed from the top: if you have a full head of hair, maybe with long hair, you will smell your fragrance at every movement. However do not do it often because perfume can dry out your hair.
Another way is to apply the perfume directly on the skin, on the parts of the body that have more warmth and where the pulse can be felt: wrists, neck, behind the knees, and inside the elbows. This will help to spread the scent. Remember: do not rub the part and do not apply it in all these points simultaneously or the scent will be too strong and you may disturb people around you.
Moreover, you are looking to avoid the mishmash effect wearing your best eau de parfum after having applied a scented cream or maybe a shampoo or a conditioner equally perfumed.
Remember not to wear perfume prior to sun exposure, it can cause unattractive spots on the skin, especially on the décolleté.
Keep from spraying the scent on to clothing to avoid the overlapping effect that could result if you wear the same dress again with a different scent, and to safeguard the fabrics that may stain or discolor. Besides keep from spraying the scent on to your pearl necklace: pearls can absorb the perfume and be damaged.
Although the perfumes are in alcohol that has a preservative action, scents can oxidize with time and the smell can change, turning it into something less desirable. These phenomena increase if they undergo temperature changes or if they are in direct sun light for a period. A perfume stored in a display case for a long time or a tester of a store, for example, may have suffered this kind of change: if you have doubts, ask to test a new fresh sample. The best place to keep the scents is somewhere cool and dark.
A little etiquette of fragrances
To wear a fragrance can give a certain sense of wellness to both us and to those around us so long as some important rules are followed. Firstly do not cover yourself with too much perfume, above all if we have chosen an oriental scent or other similarly strong scent: to leave your trail behind is not elegant as it can invade the air of others close by.
Take care as at times one can be so used to their perfume that they are no longer sensitive to it and can overuse it without meaning to. A couple of sprays should be sufficient to alert only those that are close to you, from 50/60 cm up to the embrace.
A refined touch of perfume can be pleasurable to those who wear it and to people around, for many however it can cause the opposite effect.
At the right time and with the right person, a perfume can create a mystical atmosphere of confidence, increase the romance, even relax or give a sense of wellbeing, but situations exist in which the perfume should be perfectly dosed or avoided by all.
As we have said, by the seaside or under the sun it is better to avoid wearing perfumes, even in the pool where the odor of the chlorine could make it very unpleasant. In other situations however, like on the airplane, in the office or at a restaurant, in which one is closer to other people that are eating, drinking, concentrating or resting, it is advisable to wear a light perfume that is not invasive on the space of others.
There is nothing worse than tasting a succulent oyster whilst smelling spicy scents from the next table!
A mistake not to be made is to think you can cover bad body odors with an eau de parfum: the molecules that provoke the natural odors of the skin bind to the molecules that make up the perfume for which the results could be disastrous.
It is better, after having washed yourself, to use a good fragrance free deodorant or antiperspirant and only then to wear the right eau de parfum.
A PERFUME AS A PRESENT: A DIFFICULT CHOICE
It is already difficult enough to choose the right fragrance for oneself, let alone for another person.
It is true however that a perfume as a gift has many advantages.
Firstly it is a product that brings with it a sense of luxury, but at the same time can be suited to every budget. In addition, it is very easy for example to put it in your luggage if you were to buy it as a souvenir whilst on holiday.
However, to receive a perfume as a gift signifies that someone has thought about you and your personality, has tried to understand you and wanted to give you something magical, and that is always very pleasing.
And if perhaps he didn’t choose the most suitable fragrance, we appreciate the gesture!
-ISIPCA, EFCM course, Versailles (France), 2001.
-Josephine Fairley and Lorna McKay, Note Couture, Daily Mail, 2014.
-Lee Kynaston, The modern man’s guide, The Telegraph, 2015.
by CLAUDIA SCATTOLINI, Fragrance designer