Did you know memory is connected to our sense of smell? That’s why we have flashbacks whenever we wear our boyfriend’s clothes or walk into our grandparents’ place. Cool, huh?
In other words, perfume is pretty powerful, plus it makes us feel good. If you haven’t worn perfume before or you’re bored of your current lineup, we’re here to help you learn how to choose a perfume. And we’ll let you in on a secret: the “right” perfume for you is the one you - and your nose - like the most!
It’s as simple as that, but it pays off to wrap your head around the different fragrance notes so you can find your signature scent faster.
What are Top, Heart and Base Notes?
Think of top, heart and base notes as perfume ingredients. On their own, they’re not that special or powerful but combined, they create a very pleasant scent.
Each note serves a different purpose, and affects how perfume smells when you wear it.
Have you ever spritzed a perfume and fallen in love with it or turned off it instantly?
Also known as the opening or head notes, top notes are the scents you smell when you first spray a perfume. They’re the most lightweight notes, which means they only linger for 5 to 15 minutes before fading away. After that, the fragrance will start to transition and the other notes will dominate.
While top notes disappear quickly, they’re potent and play an important role in determining whether you’re going to like a perfume or not.
These are most common top notes:
Citrus - e.g. lemon, orange zest and bergamot
Light florals - e.g. lavender and rose
Herbs - e.g. clary sage, basil and anise
Sometimes called middle note perfumes, heart notes start to come through once the top notes evaporate. They’re literally the “heart” of the perfume, and their job is to hold on to some of the aroma of the top notes while introducing new scents.
Heart notes make up around 70% of most fragrances, so they last the longest. This means you’ll smell them the whole time you’re wearing your perfume.
Some of the most popular heart notes are full-bodied florals, like jasmine, geranium, lavender, neroli and ylang-ylang, as well as spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and pepper.
Once the top notes have completely evaporated, the final fragrance notes appear and sink into your skin for hours. The base notes are made up of richer and heavier scents, and they kick in after about 30 minutes to add more depth to the perfume.
Your favourite perfume is probably memorable because of the base notes, because they dry out of the skin.
The most common base note perfumes include vanilla, amber, musk, moss and patchouli or woody notes like sandalwood and cedarwood.
How to choose a Scent that suits you
Now that you know about fragrance notes, you can figure out which scents will appeal to you the most (and least).
They key is not to think about it too much! Perfume is there to make you smell and feel good. You don’t need to worry about the notes and how they mix together - just think about the kind of scents you like.
Most perfumes and colognes fall into these main categories:
If you love the smell of lemons, limes and oranges, a citrusy perfume will transport you to a spa for the day.
Your perfume pair: DB Cosmetics Bliss
For men: DB Cosmetics Guilt for Men
Fresh fragrances are uplighting without being too overpowering. If you want to smell like you’ve just hopped out of the shower, these lightweight perfumes are a good pick.
Most of us are attracted to certain floral scents over others. This category includes roses, peonies and lavender, as well as powerful white florals like gardenia, ylang-ylang and lilies.
Fruity notes blend easily to add sweetness and richness to a fragrance. If you like musky scents, lean towards perfumes with darker berries, like blackberry. And if you want a juicy-smelling fragrance, look for the best fruity perfumes with apple and strawberry notes.
Imagine adding sugar to a clean load of laundry, and that’s what musky and vanilla perfumes smell like.
Love the smell of bonfires, wood burning ovens and blown-out matches? A spicy perfume might be your match. They’re warm, and usually feature cinnamon and nutmeg notes.
Your perfume pair: DB Cosmetics La Belle
For men: DB Cosmetics Savage
Popular among men's fragrances, woody fragrances can feature nutty, earthy and musky scents. Sandalwood is on the lighter end of the spectrum, while cedarwood and patchouli perfumes are more potent.
You don’t need to stick to these categories when choosing a cologne or perfume, by the way. You can always opt for a light perfume during the day, and switch to a headier scent after dark!
Other tips for buying a Perfume online
Since you’re shopping online, you don’t need to worry about sniffing coffee beans in between testing fragrances!
Along with focusing on those scent categories above, keep these tips in mind to choose a perfume online:
Think about the products you apply on your body, like body wash, moisturiser and deodorant. If any of these have a strong scent, you may want to go for a lighter perfume - like one with fresh or citrusy notes - to complement it. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to smell your perfume properly.
Consider how often you run your skin under water. Your unique body chemistry can affect how a fragrance smells on your skin. If you’re constantly washing the places you apply perfume, like your wrists, a light perfume may not last long.
Skip the heavier scents if you’re new to perfume. Play around with fresh, fruity and musky scents before moving on to floral, woody and spicy scents.