Following on from last week’s How to Choose Fragrance: A Beginner’s Guide, where I share fragrance expertise discussed as a guest on the QVC Beauty channel, here is a follow up exploring the world of perfume, how to navigate it and most importantly how to wear it.
How to layer fragrance
Firstly, what does fragrance layering mean? Well it can refer to two different processes:
- The act of applying several layers of the same scent through different products. A classic way of layering in this instance would be to wash using a solid soap or shower gel that matches your fragrance in terms of scent, then massage into skin a body lotion from the same range, followed by spritzing the fragrance. These layers will intensify your chosen scent and make it last longer on your skin.
- Layering can also refer to the art of combining several fragrances to create your own bespoke scent. Have fun and experiment! Ensure you spray the stronger scent first, followed by the lighter one which would otherwise be overpowered and get lost in the other scent. Some niche perfume houses such as The Merchant of Venice have created single note fragrances which are ideal for layering.
How to break down a fragrance pyramid
You literally cannot work in the perfume industry without coming across the olfactory pyramid, a visual tool used to describe how a fragrance is constructed. You can see here the one for Rosa Moceniga from The Merchant of Venice.
- Top notes: these are the first notes you’ll smell once you’ve sprayed the scent. Typically the most volatile, they evaporate and fade away quite quickly. Also known as head notes, they are short-lived but strong and sharp, often featuring fresh fruity notes.
- Heart notes: once the top notes start to fade, the heart notes gently take over. These are transitory and often include floral notes.
- Base notes: the lingering notes that last the longest in a perfume. They are the foundation of a fragrance, the long-lasting aromas that usually form accords with the heart notes. Base notes provide a fragrance its longevity and typically last for a few hours. This is why it’s so important to let a perfume develop on you when trying out a new scent, as you want to ensure you love the dry down (as it’s also known) before committing to a purchase.
How to apply fragrance
Yes, there is a technique to applying it. It doesn’t involve anything too complex, but these tips will help to get the best out of your fragrance:
- During a sales conference at my first beauty job I was sat next to the MD of the Perfume & Cosmetics division. This was someone who had years of luxury beauty under her belt and who spoke about the industry with such authority that when she gave you a tip, you sat up and listened – and I’ve certainly never forgotten what she told me when a new fragrance was handed around the room for everyone to try. I don’t think I’m alone in instinctively spritzing fragrance on my wrists and rubbing them together. I was met with a hushed recommendation not to do that. It turns out that the friction created by rubbing heats up the perfume ingredients, causing them to loose their crispness and ultimately changing the course of the scent. To preserve the integrity of your fragrance (and also ensure it lasts longer on your skin), spritz lightly on your pulse points – the inside of your wrists, at the base of your throat and behind your earlobes – let the liquid sink in, then do nothing at all.
- To increase the longevity of your fragrance it’s always best to spritz onto hydrated skin. This is where the layering comes in handy, as your body lotion can make your perfume last longer on skin not only through moisturising, but also through layering if you choose the same scent in the lotion and the fragrance.
- My personal tip: if your skin is a little sensitive to alcohol (which fragrance contains quite a bit of) spray onto hair: the perfume will be diffused into your surroundings with every hair swish.
How to store fragrance
Due to its ingredients, fragrance is very sensitive to environmental changes. Shifts in temperature for example, going from hot to cold and vice versa, can create chemical reactions within the perfume, ultimately ageing it faster. A bathroom is also an unsuitable environment for fragrance, as the steam from a daily hot bath or shower can affect the raw materials and their freshness. Direct sunlight is also a big no no, as the UV rays can alter the juice’s colour. So where can you store your fragrance? The best way to protect it from external factors is to actually keep it in the box it originally came in. That seems such a shame though: the bottles are often so ornate and elegant, I wouldn’t feel like I was getting the most out of my purchase if I hid the bottle away. So I tend to display it on my dressing table, away from direct sunlight and away from radiators, so that I can enjoy the beauty of the perfume bottle on a daily basis. Once you’ve finished a bottle of fragrance, don’t throw it away! An elegant flacon can create a beautiful centrepiece on a shelf in the hallway or on a coffee table clustered with a trinket box and vase.
This is by no means a final and complete guide to fragrance. Being such a huge topic to explore and with perfume such a strong reflection of personal taste, everyone will have a different take on what works and doesn’t work for them. Do you have any tips to share on how to wear fragrance? Or if you’re looking for fragrance recommendations why not check out my fragrance review here. Please leave a comment to let me know.