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How to pick the perfect scent

Searching for a new spring fragrance? Follow our guide to sniffing out your next scent.

It may be invisible, but perfume plays an integral part in your everyday 
appearance. ‘A beauty regime should make you feel confident and ready for the day, and picking the right fragrance for you will only enhance this feeling,’ says John Stephen, master perfumer at The Cotswold Perfumery.

Research from Charles University in Prague shows that we’re drawn to scents that complement our own unique natural smells, which is one of the reasons that choosing perfume as a gift for others can be a daunting task.

But it’s not just selecting a scent for loved ones that’s tricky – trawling department stores in search of your own signature fragrance 
can also be a mind-boggling affair, akin to the harrowing search for the perfect pair of jeans. It’s time to take the stress out of the fragrance hunt: here are our golden rules for sniffing out your new favourite scent with ease.

Go seasonal
You don’t wear the same outfit all year round, so why wear the same perfume? ‘You should have a perfume for winter, summer, day and evening – but most importantly, to reflect your mood,’ reveals John.

Wear it right
If you tend to just spritz your perfume in the general direction of your neck, taking careful aim will make all the difference. ‘The best place to wear your fragrance is on your pulse points: your neck, your wrists and behind the knees,’ explains John. ‘These places all produce natural warmth and help to release the fragrance throughout the day.’

Know your type
It’s easy to feel pressured by pushy sales people, so narrow your options before venturing to the stores. ‘Decide the classification first – green, floral, aldehydic (bitter), chypre (heavy), oriental, fougere (masculine), or citrus,’ tips John. ‘Ask to be shown only perfumes that fall into your classification. Test them on paper first and narrow it down to two.’

Take your time
Our unique biological make-up means that perfume will smell different on everyone, so sniffing alone doesn’t really indicate whether a particular scent will suit you or not. After you’ve whittled down the shortlist, test each fragrance on your wrist: ‘Put one on each wrist and then walk away. Allow them to settle down, because they will change depending on your skin type. Give yourself plenty of time – and if necessary, try them again the next day before deciding,’ says John.

Make it last
Parfum is the most concentrated form of scent and lasts longest. Then there’s eau de parfum, followed by eau de toilette – the lightest out of the three. ‘A perfume is a blend of top, middle and base notes, and it’s the base notes that linger,’ says John. ‘So, if you want your perfume to last, it must have a high proportion of base notes. It’s as simple as that.’

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