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How to Choose and Wear Perfume — Everything You Need to Know

The world of perfumes is wide, complex, and historical. Humans have worn scents for thousands of years. (Image:  Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain)
The world of perfumes is wide, complex, and historical. Humans have worn scents for thousands of years. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain)

For some people, their sense of smell is very strong, and has the capacity to awaken emotions. Therefore, wearing and choosing perfume is a very personal decision.

Both women and men attest that scents can change the way you feel, and they like to use smell as another avenue of self expression; like people, perfume has its own unique personality.

The world of perfume

Through the decades, perfume — like style and clothing — has also been subject to trends and fashions. Like with the introduction of synthetic compounds in the 1930’s, perfumes moved beyond what animal and plant products could provide into new and exciting realms of aroma never existing before.

In the 1940s to 1950s, women preferred light, floral, and very feminine scents reminding them of their ideal post-war identity. Whereas the 1960s to 70s women moved toward more sophisticated wood, incense, and musk scents — reminisce of the orient.

The people of the 1980s loved loud, look-at-me perfumes, but this completely changed in the 1990s when fresh and clean smelling fragrances were in. You could hardly tell the difference between the male and female version!

Davidhoff's 'Cool Water' is a very typical example of a 200's style perfume- very cool and refreshing. (Image: wvfonseca via Compfight cc)

Davidhoff’s ‘Cool Water’ is a very typical example of a 1990s-style perfume — very cool and refreshing. (Image: wvfonseca via Compfight cc)

 

In the 2000s, perfume manufacturers began to bring fruits of all kinds into the experiment — perfumes often smelled so yummy you didn’t know whether to spray or eat the bottle!

Today, the range of perfumes available is nothing short of astounding, and you are sure to find one, or several, that speak to you and reflect your different moods.

For example, I commonly have three perfumes: Something light and fresh for work, another sweet and floral for socializing on the weekend, and the last is exotic and luxurious for a special night out or a romantic occasion.

Perfume basics

Mia, from Asian Beauty Secrets, gives a good run-down of all the basic information you need to know about perfume. She also helps you to decode the french terms you may have seen on perfume bottles that I bet you’ve been a little confused about!

Understanding perfume labels

Eau de Cologne contains 3-5 percent aromatic compounds, meaning it’s very light. You can spray this around your body liberally. The Eau de Cologne is watered down, making it affordable to buy — a good option for younger people who enjoy the process of spraying and re-spraying throughout the day.

Miss Dior Cherie comes in a eau de toilette version. It is marketed toward a younger woman or teenager, therefore is lighter. (Image: Natasha d.H via Compfight cc )

Miss Dior Cherie comes in an eau de toilette version. It is marketed toward younger women or teenagers, therefore, it’s lighter. (Image: Natasha d.H via Compfight cc)

Eau de Toilette contains 5-15 percent aromatic compounds, so is a little stronger, but is marketed as the lighter version of the stronger “parfum,” which is more potent. Spray this perfume once on either side of your neck, and on your wrists for coverage; re-apply every 4 hours, as it will wear off quite quickly.

Eau de Parfum contains 10-20 percent aromatic compounds, making it very strong, so only a little is needed. This fragrance will be considerably more expensive, but has a longer staying power, lasting 6-8 hours or longer.

Eau de Parfum will give you long-lasting fragrance in a spray. (Image:Richard Elzey via Compfight cc)

Eau de Parfum will give you long-lasting fragrance in a spray. (Image:Richard Elzey via Compfight cc)

If it is a highly-priced fragrance. You will be able to smell the quality — especially after an hour of applying. After the perfume has time to mature on your skin, mixing with your body’s own chemicals, it will change and soften. Often the deeper, sweeter notes will come through.

Parfum contains 20-40 percent aromatic compounds. This type of perfume usually comes in little bottles that you would dab with your finger to apply. Put a small dab behind your ears and on your wrists for an aroma that will last all day long, and probably into the night.

Finding a perfume that speaks to and of  you

Your tastes are constantly changing and maturing, just as your preference for perfumes changes. Perfume is such a personal experience; what smells wonderful to me, might smell ghastly to another. And that’s the challenge of why it is so difficult to buy perfume for another person.

Shalimar is one of the world's best-ever selling perfumes, first created in 1925, it is still popular today. (Image: Vitoria Salomé via Compfight cc)

Shalimar is one of the world’s best-ever selling perfumes. First created in 1925, it is still popular today. (Image: Vitoria Salomé via Compfight cc)

Mia suggests visiting a perfume shop or chemist, and smelling lots of sample cards. When you have narrowed down to two, ask to sample them on your skin and leave the shop — giving each fragrance a chance to settle on your skin. After a couple of hours — and a lot of sniffing, waiting, and sniffing again — you will know how the aroma performs on your skin, and how you feel about it.

A perfume tester card, to help you choose. (Image: Norio.NAKAYAMA via Compfight cc)

A perfume tester card to help you choose. (Image: Norio.NAKAYAMA via Compfight cc)

The ritual of applying perfume

For the best results, apply perfume after you have bathed, dried, and moisturized your skin. Spray your perfume bottle at a distance of 20-30 cm away from your body, allowing the mist droplets to fall on your skin.

Some say that perfume, like makeup, is an important part of their morning ritual; it helps them to positively greet the day ahead.

An important part of the morning ritual for some, perfume effects the way they feel. (Image: CCO Public Domain Via Pixabay)

An important part of the morning ritual for some, perfume affects the way they feel. (Image: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain)

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