Like tastes in fashion, shoes, hairstyles, make-up, etc, your choice of fragrance is a very personal thing. It’s about what you like and what you feel comfortable with, but also a projection of yourself to the outside world.
We don’t just like to smell great. We like to smell great in a way that says something about ourselves.
There’s no shortage of fragrances available on the market. With thousands of perfume, cologne, and eau de toilette brands to choose from, there’s plenty of scope for finding a scent that feels just right for you.
Yet however much you identify with a particular fragrance as ‘your’ scent, it has to be acknowledged that there are a lot of other people walking around who feel exactly the same way about it. What if you’re after something truly unique? A signature scent that is yours and yours alone, not to be repeated by anyone else?
Unless you happen to be friends with a master perfumer or dabble in the art of perfume-making yourself, you might think this is an impossible dream. If so, then be prepared for a pleasant surprise. It’s actually a lot easier than you think to create a truly unique signature scent simply by mixing existing fragrances from your collection.
Ok, so there’s a little more to it than that. What we’re talking about is the art of perfume layering – using off-the-shelf fragrances in combination to create something new and exciting.
Blending different fragrances is of course at the very heart of perfume making. It’s what the expert perfumiers train for years to do. Mixing together the blends they create is just an extension of this.
But surely it takes experience and skill to make two different fragrances complement one another? Well, yes and no. You can’t be completely haphazard in the way you mix perfumes and expect to get a pleasing result.
But on the other hand, the perfume makers have done much of the hard work for you. Their products are designed to be balanced and very pleasing to smell. With a little basic knowledge, it’s surprisingly easy to combine two or more fragrances to create something unique and very pleasant.
Here’s how to get started with perfume layering.
Start with simple fragrances and gradually get more complex
The reason it’s called perfume ‘layering’ is that, rather than mix scents in a bottle, this approach involves spraying one perfume on and then ‘layering’ others on top. The advice professionals give for making this work is to start with something straightforward – i.e. a perfume with just a few ingredients – and then gradually layer more complex perfumes on top.
So for example, if you started with a fragrance that is dominated by a single scent like lavender or vanilla or musk, you could then add another that has two or three dominant scents (or ‘notes’). Check the effects at each stage, and only progress to adding another if you feel there is still something missing.
Move from heavier to lighter scents
Taking this a step further into the technicalities of perfume making, professional perfumiers classify scents as base, middle and top notes. Base scents are heavy and long-lasting – things like musk, sandalwood, patchouli, and vanilla. Top notes are lighter, sharper, and more instantly attention-grabbing, but also fade faster. Examples include citrus and lots of floral and herby scents. Middle notes sit, well, somewhere in the middle.
Perfumiers will always start with the base notes and build upwards, and you can use this same knowledge with your perfume layering. As well as choosing simpler fragrances to start with, go for those which have strong base notes like vanilla or musk. Remember, these are scents that will last the longest when you are wearing your new signature scent. From that base, you can add the lighter, sharper, more complex scents that will provide a wow factor, while those original base scents will give your lighter fragrances added depth.
Be prepared to experiment
Without taking a course in perfumery, you can’t expect to have instant knowledge of which scents work best with each other. Understanding the difference between base, middle and top notes is just the start, as is the principle of building from simple or single scents to gradually getting more complex.
The best way to earn deeper knowledge about what scents work well together is to experiment and have fun doing it. Be inquisitive about trying different scents in different combinations and quantities, and be analytical about what does and doesn’t work. Take notes about the ones you like so you can come back to them later. Another great thing about experimenting is that over time you will develop not just one but perhaps a dozen or more unique signature scents that you can roll out for different occasions.
Get started with low-cost fragrance samples
If you really want to go to town experimenting with different fragrance combinations, you will of course need a good number of scents to work with. This can become an expensive business if you are working with full-size bottles. You might even be a little reluctant to use your very best Eau de parfum for perfume layering, knowing how much the original cost.
The solution? Start building up your collection with women’s perfume samples. Perfume samples are miniature bottles of fragrance distributed by manufacturers to retailers to put out on display and allow customers to try before they buy. But in recent times, a booming online trade in sample-size bottles has grown up, again to give digital shoppers the opportunity to try different fragrances out before they commit to buying the full-size product.
Fragrance samples are perfect for experimenting with perfume layering. Costing just a few pounds each, you can quickly build up an impressive collection of different perfumes without breaking the bank. The samples are sent to you in the post so you don’t even have to go out anywhere to hunt down the fragrances you want to buy.
The sample sizes are also ideal for mixing and matching and playing around with – until you find that signature combination you love, when you can then invest in larger sizes, happy in the knowledge you’ve found a scent that truly speaks to you.