“You smell great!” can be a really nice thing to hear on days when you need a boost. While applying and wearing scent in any form from full power eau de parfum to whisper-light body mist is undeniably a first-make-yourself-happy thing, choosing a crowd-pleaser that everyone from your coworkers to a significant other likes counts too. Here’s how to pass the sniff test:
Find your current “love”
This doesn’t mean the so-called signature scent you’ve been wearing for years or the trendiest fragrance all over social media. It’s the sensory cocktail of favorite smells you’re into right now. Think outside the box. You’re loving the smell of your coconut-scented shampoo or vanilla body wash? Or maybe it’s the fresh cedar and cinnamon deodorant you’ve been using, the lemongrass incense at your yoga class or the earthy smell of pine trees and woods on your morning walk. Updating your fragrance each year — just as you do skin care, jeans and hair style — is a way to stay relevant and renew your looks and attitude.
Look for words that resonate
So how do you know what will smell great to you when shopping around online? Blind buys where you’re going purely on a description or a photo of a gorgeous bottle are tough. How many of us know what fig, amber or cashmere smell like anyway? And realistically that bottle is nice on a vanity but scent is invisible once you’ve got it on. Look for a general category like floral, fresh, woody or spicy, or just head for specific notes you respond to most like bergamot, jasmine or sandalwood. Feeling edgy in your black leather pants and boots this season? Maybe a mysterious hint of incense or coffee can spice up the florals you enjoy. Prefer a clean outdoorsy scent? A hint of sea salt or lemon is what you need now. Love rose scents but want something new? Try one with a pop of caramel or vanilla.
Test a new fragrance in person, when possible
An in-store spritz on the inside of your wrist — not a blotter strip or magazine/catalog flap — will give you the most accurate idea. Try spraying and then walk around for about a half hour to give the scent a chance to mingle with your own. The temporary top notes will flare off, and the heartier and more lasting middle and base notes will remain for a more accurate sniff test. And no, just because a perfume smells great on your best friend doesn’t mean it will smell the same on you. Individual body chemistry plays a big part here.
Keep your fragrance choice vibrant for hours
Losing a scent quickly after application is common in the parched air of winter or if you have dry skin. That’s because hot weather and body heat amplify scent. Applying your eau de toilette or eau de parfum to warm hydrated skin sets the stage for it to linger. Be sure to mist hot spots and pulse points like the inside crook of the elbows, wrist veins, back of knees, between the breasts and the sides of the neck where scent will keep reactivating as the day or evening goes on. For a refresh, try dabbing on a clear lip balm or travel size cream first if possible. Do not rub your wrists together! This alters the scent.
Know the strength you want
Eau de parfum is the strongest concentration of fragrance, followed by eau de toilette and eau de cologne. Perfume oils, which usually come in rollerballs, are powerful but since the touch of the ball is small, the effect is intimate for you the wearer or those very close around you. Carry a travel-size atomizer or rollerball for a quick reset. Be mindful about the amount you apply: You don’t want your scent to arrive before you or linger after you leave.
Layer all your scents strategically
In the past, pairing a perfume with its same scent bath and body products was a traditional way of building a longer-lasting smell. Almost no one does this anymore. It’s an expensive habit and truthfully many women prefer having more than one fragrance in rotation. However, selecting unscented bath and body products or choosing those within the same scent niche — floral, coconut, vanilla or citrus — can enhance your perfume choice for a more powerful statement. For example, the Yves Saint Laurent Libre Le Parfum ($95, ulta.com), Vitabath Lavender Chamomile Body Cream ($9, walgreens.com) and Yardley London Moisturizing Bath Bar English Lavender ($1, walgreens.com) are all lavender scented.