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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.

lightning in a bottle scent perfume styles
Photography by: Yasu + Junko

Green Scents

These smell of grass, moss, and tea leaves.

Spicy Scents

Think cinnamon, clove, and pepper.

Floral Scents

All flowers are fair game.

Masculine Scents

Leather, wood, and tobacco are common notes.

Citrus Scents

These burst with lemon, orange, and lime.

Gourmand Scents

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.

Pace Yourself

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.

 

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season highlights perfumes
Photography by: Yasu + Junko

Season Highlights

 

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.

 

[Learn: How to Protect Your Color-Treated Hair]
worth noting perfumes
Photography by: Peter Ardito

Worth Noting

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.