Saturday, June 16, 2012

How to Select a Perfume - My Adventure and Handy Tips

Selecting the perfect fragrance is a very personal experience.
I have been on a quest to purchase a new fragrance.  It's quite the adventure nowadays.  There are so many options.  In addition to the regular brand names, there are designer fragrances and celebrity perfumes.  In this day-and-age of "scent-free" environments, we hardly get a chance to wear our favourite scents anymore.  My workplace is a designated scent-free zone, as there are people who work there who have allergies and sensitivities to odours that come with perfumes, soaps and other sources.

The movie, "Perfume"

After watching the movie, "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" (2006), I had a greater appreciation for perfume.  It's a really different kind of story that is about how a man wants to learn how to capture the scent of beautiful women.   His mentor, Mr. Baldini, is a perfumer who teaches him everything he knows, unknowingly creating a murderer.

Here's a quote from Guiseppe Baldini (Perfume), played by Dustin Hoffman:

"Now pay attention to what I tell you.  Just like a musical chord, a perfume chord contains four essences, or notes, carefully selected for their harmonic affinity.  Each perfume contains three chords:  the head, the heart and the base, necessitating 12 notes in all.  The head chord contains the first impression, lasting a few minutes before giving way to the heart chord, the theme of the perfume, lasting several hours.  Finally the base chord, the trail of the perfume lasting several days."

The search was on

With this new knowledge in mind, and a special gift for Mother's Day from my husband, my quest for the perfect perfume was on.  He was originally planning to give me the new "Madonna" perfume, which I was eagerly anticipating, but as it turned out it was a big disappointment to us both when we took our first whiff.  Madonna's new perfume smelled too much like the overbearing scent of the spring blossoms on the neighbourhood trees, which made my husband sneeze and made his allergies act up.

I was looking for something not too sweet, not too floral, and something that didn't smell like a "little old lady".  I wanted something new and fresh.  I was looking for my "signature fragrance".  I started by asking my friends what they would suggest, so that gave me a good starting point.  I wrote down everything in my smartphone, and labelled the file, "Perfume".  I headed for the perfume counters at Shopper's Drug Mart and The Bay.

I must have smelled about 100 different perfumes over the span of one week and tried on 10 or more.  The sales clerks were very helpful and they helped educate me on a few things.

The perfumes I tried were based on suggestions from my friends and the sales clerks, and some I decided to try just because of the name or the look of the bottle.  A couple of times the clerks recommended "Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue" and I told them that my Mother-in-Law wears that so I am looking for something else.  It's a beautiful fragrance, but I want something different.

Perfumes I tried and my impressions

Burberrry The Beat:  Powdery, peppery.  Reminded me of "Exclamation" that I wore when I was about 15.  I tried this one on and I give it a 7/10.

Armani Code: Classy, floral.  Pleasant.  Feminine.  Lasting power.  I tried this one and I give it an 8/10.

Burberry Brit Sheer:  More fruity, floral.  Smells like pineapples, litchi and musk.

Burberry Brit:  Flora, white peony.  Wanted more than just flowers.

Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche (the green one):.  It was very good.  I wore this one, and the clerk gave me a sample vial to try at home.  It's fresh, citrus.  A nice daytime fragrance.  Not offensive.  8/10.

D'azure by Lancome:  I tried this one on my right arm. Nothing too special.  Smells fresh, like the sea.

Bulgari Mon Jasmin Noir:  I have a sample vial of this one.  A nice floral, good for evening, or a date night.  8/10.

Davidoff Cool Water Wave:  Tropical, I liked the smell of it on my skin.  7/10.

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist:  Musk, woods, soft floral.  Eau de toilette.  50 ml, $80.  It was a 5/10.

The fragrances that I tried and were not for me

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely:  Too floral, too mature.

Donna Karan DKNY be delicious:  I liked the smell, fruity.  But too young and girly.

Burberry Body

Chanel Chance Eau Tendre:  Sparkling fruit and red berry note, too sweet for me.

Shalimar by Guerlain:  Too intense for me.  Very oriental.

Forever by Mariah Carey:  I didn't find this to have much of a smell that I could describe.

Givenchy Play (pink bottle):  Powdery and sweet.  Too youthful.

Versace Versense:  Citrus. Wore it for one hour and it gave me a headache.  Nice smell, but my smeller couldn't handle it.

Ange ou Demon by Givenchy:  I wore this one.  Smells medicinal to me.  Like I've been to the doctor's.

Dior Addict to Life:  Flowers and powder.  Nice scent, reminds me of a friend's perfume.

Elie Saab: I have a sample vial, it's brand new.  It smells a lot like the scent from the "Bissell Upholstery Cleaner" we have in our cupboard.  Roses, cedarwood, mothballs, cleaning fluid.  

Other fragrances that I was going to try but never got around to

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Fendi fan di Fendi, Eternity by CK, Gucci by Gucci for Women, Lise Watier Desireable, Navy, Lolita Lempicka, Bulgari Green, Euphoria by CK, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea (I have the lotion and I love this scent), Elizabeth Taylor, Sapphires and Diamonds.


And the Winner Is....
Coach Poppy eau de Parfum

I found a perfume I really like.  It's called Coach Poppy.   A bit sweet, a bit floral, very feminine and alluring.  Classy and not offensive.  My perfect scent. 10/10

Here's the description of this scent:  Sweetly scented jasmine and gardenia blend with fresh cucumber and candied rose petals in a pretty, lighthearted fragrance.


The following tips are things you should keep in mind when you are looking for a new perfume.

1.  Ask friends and family for suggestions.  Write a list down.  Tell the sales clerk what you are looking for.  You will also know what your friends are wearing so as not to duplicate!

2.  When you go shopping for a fragrance, open the lid, and smell the opening on the bottle first.  If you like that, spray it on a little piece of paper they have.  If you still like it, keep the paper with you as you sample other fragrances.  Write the name of it down.  I've even seen the sales clerks spray the inside of the cap if it's available.  Spray the one you like most on your skin.  Spray on the crook of your arm, or on your wrist.  I had three on at one time once!  Have your family and friends smell and and see what their reaction is.  Live with it for a day, and see how it smells on your skin.  You will also experience "lasting power".  If you still like it, give it a rating, out of 10.

3.  You will probably have a low tolerance and will be able to smell only about 5 or 6 perfumes before your nose and head gets overwhelmed.  I had about a 20-30 minutes tolerance of perfume testing.  Eventually you won't be able to smell anything or make sense out of the smells.  Most places have coffee beans that you can use to clear out your sniffer between fragrances.

4.  Some sales clerks are "pushing" a certain line, and often have sample vials to hand out.  You can ask if they have any samples.  Let them know you are interested in a perfume, but need to "live with it" for awhile before you purchase.  Many of these higher-end fragrances are in the $70-80 price range for 50 mls, so you want to spend your money wisely.  I consider it an investment.

5.  I learned from one of the sales clerks that we are not supposed to "rub" our wrists together when we spray on the fragrance.  It apparently "messes" up the chords and notes.  Wait a few seconds and let it dry a bit before smelling it, as the smell of alcohol is usually most obvious, then dissipates quickly letting the aroma of the perfume dominate.

6.  When you spray the scent on the paper, wait a few seconds, then "fan" the paper in front of your nose and breath in.  This is the best way to get the smell of the fragrance from the paper.

7.  Look up online reviews on the fragrances you are considering.  You will be able to find what the main smells are (ie. sweet, floral, powder, musk, etc.) and this sometimes helps you make a decision.  There will also be comments from other people who have purchased or smelled it and you can see what they think of it.

8.  Once you have found a fragrance that you can't stop smelling, you have found "the one"!  Shop around for the best price, and you won't be disappointed.

Click on the arrow above to see a video called, "How to Find a Signature Scent", or go to this YouTube Link:

Please feel free to comment below.

Have a great day!

Angela Gentile

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