Buying perfume is such tricky business, and it doesn't get any easier with the expansive range of options at our fingertips. Some people even sit through a mini workshop in hopes of figuring out which fragrance suits them best. But how accurate can a workshop or filling out a questionnaire really be?
The keynotes in a perfume are one thing -- figuring out if you want something floral, spicy, musky, or even something sweet like vanilla, is a chore on its own. Just like the perfume itself, there are many layers when it comes to choosing the right one for you. Let's not forget the incredible ability the human brain has, where something as simple as a scent can trigger memories and evoke emotions.
We meet with Nicolas Mirzayantz, Group President of Fragrances at International Flavours & Fragrances Inc. (IFF) who gives us a few important tips to consider when buying perfume.
1. Ask for a sample, and wear it
"What I always invite people to do is to really experience the perfume in use - there really is no other alternative. Have some expression or judgement at the beginning, but come back to it [afterwards] to follow the fragrance through the different stages." Mirzayantz suggests allowing the fragrance develop through its notes, and asking for feedback. Essentially, it's a "multi-dimensional experience".
2. First impressions aren't everything
Just like how you wouldn't draw conclusions on a song based on just listening to the first few seconds, it's important to not let your initial impression cloud your judgment when buying a perfume. Mirzayantz advises experiencing "a fragrance over a longer period of time" for a better gauge.
3. Live with it
"The best advice is to live with it, because some fragrances are going to come back to you and create different emotions. Some fragrances are linear, some have different facets that develop during the few hours on the skin, [and] you might have a different perception [of it]." Who knows, the fragrance that you didn't think much of initially might just surprise you a couple of hours later.
4. Listen to your emotions
"That notion of a very strong emotional connection and reaction is fundamental." According to Mirzayantz, fragrances "should not just be about having a nice effective experience" but also the "emotional transformation". "Some of [these] will be reminding you of very strong memories from the past and some are going to create new emotions," Mirzayantz elaborates. "I will be more inclined to listen to these emotions."
5. Don't rub it onto your skin
Contrary to popular practice, Mirzayantz does not recommend rubbing the fragrance into your skin during testing. "[This] creates some tension, and creates a burning experience which is really burning some molecules." Instead, try spraying some of the perfume into the air and walk through the mist as a "gentle" way of applying it.