"Every woman needs her signature fragrance, and from there she can build her fragrance wardrobe," says Nicohole Kirtley, a fragrance marketing executive and honoree of the Fragrance Foundation Awards. "Once you have your signature fragrances, you may want to start out in the morning wearing something that is a little more fresh and then you can find a fragrance that you like and can layer on top of that for after work to take you into the evening."
"In order to truly test a fragrance, you have to wear it on your skin," says Kirtley. "The way a fragrance smells on paper is not the way it will translate on skin. Your skin will reveal different notes in the fragrance due to body temperature and natural oils on your skin which will make it smell totally different than it does on the test strips. Spray it on your wrist, wear it for the day and come back later to make your final purchase decision."
"Every fragrance has a combination of top, middle and bottom notes. The top note is what you smell immediately. As the fragrance starts to wear off, you will smell more of the middle notes. By the end of the first hour of wear, you'll smell the bottom, or base, notes. This is why sometimes you may love a fragrance at first, but by the end of the day, you don't like it at all, or vice versa," says Kirtley.
Fragrance pricing depends on the concentration of oil to solution. "The price point boils down to the quality and quantity of the fragrance," says Kirtley. "The concentration is labeled by parfum, eau de parfum, or eau de toilette. A parfum contains the highest amount of oil to alcohol solution, therefore it's the most concentrated and more expensive. 'Eau' means water in French, so anytime you see that term used, it means the fragrance is a water-based solution and will be the lighter version of the scent."
"You'll get more value when you make fragrance purchases around the holidays, like Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas," shares Kirtley. "Retailers may offer a larger size of the fragrance, or a gift set that includes a body lotion, shower gel, or aftershave balm that's especially for gift-giving seaons. You're also more likely to find a gift with purchase."
"Fragrance is a category you need to experience firsthand, so choosing and buying online can be difficult," says Kirtley. When shopping online, it's best to buy fragrances that you have tested in store first. Also, only buy from reputable retailers. "Shop at online retail websites you can trust so you know you're getting the real thing and not a knock-off."
While some scents may feel lighter for summer or heavier for winter, Kirtley says it's okay to wear your fragrances year-round. "I believe you can wear any fragrance any time and just vary how much of it you put on," says Kirtley.
"Fragrances are very personal, so only buy it as a gift if you are exactly sure you know what that person likes," shares Kirtley. "If you want to give someone a fragrance that you are sure they already like, it helps to take a picture of the bottle and bring it to the store so you can easily identify the correct scent."
Choosing a fragrance is about being true to you. While it's okay to be adventurous, wearing a signature scent or being selective about your fragrance choices is fine, too. "The bottom line is to wear what you love," says Kirtley. "Fragrance is so personal. It's like music in how it makes you feel and how it can take you back to a moment in time."