How To Find Your Signature Scent
It’s no accident that discovering a fragrance you love is as exhilarating as finding The One; both moments rely on great chemistry. The right scent will uplift, transport, and tap into happy memories. To meet your match (and skip the duds), follow our guide.
These smell of grass, moss, and tea leaves.
Think cinnamon, clove, and pepper.
All flowers are fair game.
Leather, wood, and tobacco are common notes.
These burst with lemon, orange, and lime.
Look for ingredients like chocolate, vanilla, and ginger.
How To Find Your Fragrance
NARROW THE FIELD
Ask yourself what scents make you feel instantly happy, or remind you of a place you love: A certain flower? Fresh-mown grass? An exotic spice? This exercise will steer you toward one of the fragrance families on the previous page, helping you articulate what you like to a salesperson.
GET AN EARLY START
Research has shown that humans can detect one trillion distinct scents. Shop in the morning, when your sense of smell is relatively uncluttered.
PUT IT ON PAPER
If you like something in the bottle, spritz it on a fragrance blotter, wait 30 seconds for the alcohol to burn off, and inhale. "Smell it again after two minutes to understand the short and long notes," says Margaret Mitchell, group buying director for Space NK.
Sniff no more than three perfumes a day, and go from lightest (citruses, delicate florals) to heaviest (musks, ouds). Smell something neutral, like a tissue or coffee beans, in between, advises Nest Fragrances founder Laura Slatkin.
SPRITZ YOUR SKIN
Once you have a few finalists, spray one on your pulse points (wrists, neck, décolletage). As it mingles with your body chemistry, the scent will evolve, explains perfume expert Patti Kapla of Fragrance.com. So ask for a sample and live with it for a few days, then repeat with any others. If you're still swooning, congrats: You're ready to commit.
We sniffed our way through a field of new fall scents. Here are the standouts for every sensibility.
1. Floral + Feminine Lancôme Parfait de Rôses bursts with rose centrifolia. Pink pepper, vanilla, and incense add hints of spice. $185, lancome-usa.com.
2. Bold + Sensuous For its 70th anniversary, Fracas de Robert Piguet, a classic tuberose, jasmine, and bergamot blend (and Martha's signature scent), comes in a limited-edition silver atomizer. $190, neimanmarcus.com.
3. Earthy + Smoky Cypress trees, thyme, vetiver, frankincense, and moss give Aesop Hwyl a cool, woodsy vibe. $125, aesop.com.
4. Warm + Spicy The Ruthless Countess Dorthea from Penhaligon's conjures a fictional sharp-witted British aristocrat via unique notes of bergamot, red ginger, and cinnamon. $240, penhaligons.com.
5. Crisp + Light To mark the 10th birthday of its signature scent, Chloé's original perfumer added vanilla and patchouli to the rose-, peony-, lychee-, and freesia-laced juice, creating the new Absolu de Parfum. $115, sephora.com.
6. Bright + Citrusy Gabrielle, Chanel's first major perfume in 15 years, honors Coco herself with ylang-ylang, jasmine, orange blossom, and Grasse tuberose. $135, chanel.com.
1. GIVE BACK
Net proceeds from Hope Fragrance Eau de Parfum (a light floral scent) benefit the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. From $45, saks.com.
2. MOVE BEYOND SPRAYS
Jo Loves Fragrance Paintbrush is a portable gel cologne from Jo Malone. $55, joloves.com.
3. FIND IT ONLINE
Based on mood boards and playlists you browse on its site, Phlur sends out scents for an extended audition. $18 for 3 samples, phlur.com.