How To Choose Fragrance — According To The Experts

We’ve all been there before –– dead center of our favorite department store (the Nordstroms, Bloomingdales and Saks of the world) wandering in circles, eyeballing everything and anything that can be purchased. Aisle after aisle, the many scents of perfume and cologne whisk through the store, drawing you in until you’re next in line to purchase. There’s something so alluring and so powerful about fragrance –– the cherry on top of making your mark on the world and creating a personalized “smell” that with one whiff can bring a number of memories flooding back to just about anyone. 

Even walking through a department store can send your head spinning with options of fragrances. However, the question is: how do you know which one is right for you? Before you begin your journey down the fragrance section and begin spritzing through options, here’s what you’ll need to know before choosing the best personalized scent for you. ESSENCE spoke with Director of Trade and Fragrance Marketing at Lancôme, Carolina Toropalacios to debunk all that there is to know about fragrance shopping, and what you’ll need to know first hand before swiping right on your new favorite scent. 

Fragrance Isn’t Just Perfect, It’s Personal 

Though in life they say nothing is “perfect”, finding the perfect scent just means finding a scent that speaks to who you are, how you perceive the world and how those around you remember you. “Fragrance is very personal, so the perfect fragrance is the one that makes you feel good about yourself,” Toropalacios explains. “The sense of smell is highly connected to your memories- so the perfect fragrance will be the one that reminds you of cherished moments of life and that evokes positive emotions. Fragrance is a very intimate and personal experience so when shopping for a new scent take the time to research, get a feel for what you like and do not like, and try on!”

Yes, There’s Different Types of Fragrances 

This is where doing homework comes in handy. Before trial and error, knowing the difference between the various types of fragrances can save you a lot of time and money — depending on what you’re looking for. Are you searching for a subtle fragrance that’s not too strong but present enough to make an impact or a longer lasting wear that’s guaranteed to catch the nose of any admirer in your vicinity, morning, noon or night? According to Toropalacios, the concentration you decide upon will make the difference.

There’s two important concentrations to know: Eau de Toilette and Eau de Perfum. “The main difference between an EDP and EDT is the concentration of fragrance oil present, which then determines how long a perfume’s scent can last on the skin,” Toropalacios says as she breaks it down. “Eau de Toilette is usually considered the middle of the fragrance road. Eau de toilettes have a relatively light spray composition, 8% to 15% of pure perfume essence dissolved in alcohol and wear for about four to six hours.” Eau de Toilette scents compared to Eau de Parfum make for a lighter wear, rather than a stronger hold that can span for hours. “Eau de Parfum contains between 15% and 30% of the pure perfume note, which causes it to be a bit stronger and bolder to the nose and can last up to 10 hours,” she adds.

Ingredients and Packaging Matter

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It’s not just what comes out of your perfume bottle, but rather what goes into it. When shopping for new fragrances, chemistry, according to Toropalacios, is one of the most important factors to consider. Fragrances that are rich in ingredients and sustainability are your best bet. “Fragrance chemistry is a big factor, as a fragrance can wear differently on people,” she says. “Don’t rush to buy a fragrance on first spritz, let it sink in and then decide if it’s right for you. Today, the consumer cares more about sustainability than ever before, and that also applies in the fragrance world. We are seeing people want sustainable packaging and transparency when it comes to ingredients.” 

Lifestyle Plays A Factor In Choosing The Right Scent 

While choosing your fragrance, Toropalacios also suggests finding a scent that compliments your lifestyle, meaning there’s a special scent for just about any occasion –– from everyday scents to sexier scents that you’d wear during a night on the town. “Find everyday scents you naturally gravitate to, such as rose or coffee, and use that as a potential starting point. Lifestyle also can play a factor in your fragrance. Do you want a lighter, more floral scent for day and a bolder, sexier musk at night?” To give you an idea of some of your options, ESSENCE broke down a few of the beauty industries most illustrious scents and shopping options on the market right now!

Shop ahead.