Searching for a new signature scent? Step this way…

A signature scent is a fragrance that captures the essence of you. It’s an extension of your personality, your style – something that others may come to recognise you by. Once you find said scent, you can’t get enough of it – and will always come back to the bottle for more.

But finding a signature scent isn’t always easy. ‘The fragrance market is highly saturated,’ points out perfumer, Roja Dove. ‘As such, it can become utterly overwhelming when approaching the task of choosing a new perfume.’

To help, it’s worth swotting up on the different scent profiles. ‘If you can safely say, “I’m a chypre wearer,” then it already reduces the number of fragrances you should consider by three quarters,’ says Roja.

Here, fragrance experts break down everything you need to know about scent profiles, as well as how to choose a perfume for yourself and others.

What is a scent profile?

‘A scent profile, otherwise known as an olfactive family, is a way of categorising a perfume to make it easier to understand,’ explains Roja. ‘It’s like categorising a style of art, a genre of music, or a type of wine,’ he continues. But instead of jazz, hip-hop or blues,  you have floral, fougère, chypré and ambrée.

‘Floral is self-explanatory and exists more so in feminine perfumery. fougère – meaning fern – exists more for masculine options. fougère and chypré are both quite natural styles with the former being fresher and aromatic, while a chypré is heavier, based more around woods and mosses. The ambrée accord are deep, rich, exotic creations,’ explains Roja.

What note (top, middle or bottom) is most important?

According to Roja, they are all of equal importance. ‘Top notes are important, because they make a welcoming introduction, while base notes are important as they create the lasting memory,’ he says. ‘All the notes combine to create the lifespan of the fragrance and the story it tells.’

Sonia Constant, a senior perfumer at Givaudan, breaks down the different types of notes:

• Top notes: the top notes of a fragrance are what you can smell at the very beginning as soon as you spray the fragrance. But they don’t often last throughout the day. In general, these are fruity notes, green notes or aromatic notes.

• Middle notes: the middle notes are the ones that you can smell after one to two hours and tend to be the floral notes, fruity notes or spicy notes.

• Base notes: the base notes linger for longer on the skin and clothes. They’re composed of very heavy molecules such as vanilla, ambery notes, tonka bean and woods.

Can a fragrance change over time?

‘Think of a fragrance as being akin to a pyramid in structure,’ says Roja. ‘The top notes at the peak are the first to dissipate from the skin, while the bottom notes at the wide base stick to the skin for longer.’ It’s important to see how a scent evolves when choosing a new perfume and whether you like the dry down as much as you like the opening.

How to find a perfume that suits you

A great way to narrow down your options is to smell fragrances on cards, side-by-side. ‘Only by smelling a scent against another will the nuances come out quickly,’ says Roja. ‘This will help you better understand how you feel about them.’ ‘Once you’ve made a shortlist of cards, ‘repeat the exercise on your skin to see how the scent works with your skin chemistry’, recommends Roja. He adds that it’s important to familiarise yourself with a fragrance – wearing it over the course of the day to see how well you suit each other. ‘Finding a fragrance is a little like courting,’ he says.

How to choose a perfume for someone else

‘Consider their sense of style: how do they dress? How do they present themselves? How do they tend to smell?’ says Roja. Use context clues to make an informed decision as to which fragrance family they would fall into.

‘If you smell a scent and think “this IS them”, then you have a winner,’ says Roja. ‘A fragrance that embodies and reflects anyone’s personality is sure to be one that gets used lovingly.’