Fragrance 101: #1 - How to Choose a Scent That's Right For You

fragrance 101 with Roja Dove

When I met Roja Dove recently I got to hurry him away to a secluded sofa to put a few questions to him about how to choose a fragrance. His answers were typically informed, inspired and I think, really helpful. I'm going to split his words of wisdom out across a couple of posts, as there's quite a lot to digest, so today we're taking a look at how to begin the process of choosing your ideal scent.

One thing I know lots of women are so confused about is picking a perfume that's right for them. We're all swayed by marketing and ad campaigns and you can read note and accord descriptions till the cows come home, think you'll like the resultant scent - and this has often happened to me - but when you smell it, you absolutely hate it. On paper, I really thought I'd love Giorgio Armani's Acqua di Gioia for example, but when I got to try it, I really didn't. It just didn't do it for me.

So this is the huge challenge in the first instance: how do you wade through the colossal amount of products out there to find your ideal scent?


"The secret is editing and a bit of work on your part," Roja says. I agree. Step number one on your journey to a fragrance you'll like starts with a selective process - after all, our perfume choice communicates messages other than how we merely like to smell. It can also indicate our personality and interests and if you're of a hipster bent for example, well, you're probably not going to go for Beyonce Heat, eh?  "Look at magazine beauty pages and blogs you admire and see what they're recommending," he advises.  "A good blogger or beauty editor will be editing down what she receives and only featuring what's really good."

A good tip. How to take it further? "Now, make a list of six-to-ten scents that have been recommended and go to the department store or perfumery armed with a pen. Find the scents you're looking to try and spray them on a blotter," he instructs. Perfume counters will have these little fellers on hand - you can see some blotters in the pic above, and if you can't see any on counter, ask.

"Spray each perfume you want to try on a separate blotter, and write the name of the fragrance on it. Now leave the perfumery," Roja says. "Turn your blotters upside down so you can't see the names and pick two at a time. Compare them to each other and select the one you like the most." Keep doing this - yes, it's a bit like the World Cup of scent - until you've narrowed your selection down to one or two you like, and voila! You've just conducted your very own research - and distilled it to a selection you know you'll like.

Ok, it may be work on your part, and you may not find a fragrance you can stick with at the end of it (in which case try again with a different scent selection) but what you will be doing is two-fold: you'll be educating yourself about what you do and don't like, giving you a better knowledge of what does appeal, and you'll be saving yourself money as well.

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