Ever wonder why Eau de Julia Roberts smells like a rainforest on your best friend and paint solvent on you? Why your signature scent has lost its allure? We followed our nose into the mysterious, complex world of fragrance to help you make sense of scents.
How fragrances smell on you depends on the pH of your skin. Oily skin tends to release more sebum which, when combined with perfume, makes it last longer than on people with “normal” skin containing less sebum. On drier skin fragrance evaporates almost instantly. Since skin tends to become drier after the Big M, this explains why your favorite scent seems to fade faster lately. There’s a simple fix for this. Moisturize before applying perfume.
Speaking of moisturizing, unless you want to smell like fruit salad, scale back the number of scented products you wear at any one time. Choose unscented body lotions, shampoos and crème rinses. We like fragrance-free Aveeno lotion and Prose, custom shampoos and conditioners that can be formulated without scent as well as vegan and gluten-free. Or consider splurging on soap and body lotion in the same scent as your favorite perfume. Wear just the scented body lotion by day and add a spritz of perfume at night.
Understanding perfume terminology can be as confusing as conferring with a sommelier at a 5-star restaurant. A fragrance may be described as “powdery, chalky or spicy.” What are they talking about?
It all comes down to “notes.” Every fragrance has top, middle and bottom notes. Top notes last just five to ten minutes. Middle notes become apparent in about fifteen minutes and last up to an hour. Bottom notes last several hours.
Say the top note is floral, the middle note is fruity and the bottom note is woodsy. The floral scent will fade before you leave the house. The fruity aroma will linger until you reach your destination, but it’s only the woodsy fragrance that will stick around. Wait. There’s more!
While there are only seven categories of notes – Smoky, Citrusy, Woody, Green, Floral, Aquatic and Oriental – the number of potential ingredients are mind boggling. Even more so now that most perfumes are made of synthetic substances. This is true of even lux brands. A small number of high-end perfumes may also include trace amounts of natural extracts such as rose or jasmine. But most come straight from a chem lab, not from the lavender fields of Provence.
Until the dawn of the 20thcentury, all perfumes were made from flowers. According to The Story of Perfume, published by McGill University in March 2017, Chanel No5 was the first perfume created by applying modern chemical principles and the first to contain synthetics.
Wearing and storing
Forget about dabbing perfume behind your ears. Fragrances, like heat, rise and fade. The lower on your body you apply it, the longer the scent will last. We know you can think of some interesting places. But may we suggest spritzing your back rather than your bosom? That way your perfume won’t hit you, or anyone else, smack in the face. It will be more of an aromatic aura and less of an assault on the senses.
All fragrances, like wines, contain alcohol. As soon as you open it, it starts to evaporate and “age.” To avoid this, buy smaller, atomizer perfumes. If you are gifted a magnum of your favorite scent, decant it into smaller bottles.
You wouldn’t leave a bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the sun. The same goes for your fragrances. Keep your perfumes in a cool, dry area, away from windows. Sunlight can unbalance the various ingredients, so can heat of a steamy bathroom. Best to store unused fragrances in their original box and, in the summer, keep them in the fridge.
Sex in a bottle
When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously replied, “Five drops of Chanel No. 5.” If she were here today, we think she’d be wearing Coco, Chanel’s woodsy floral that, according to the TV ad, drives men insane.
Other fragrances with seductive powers include Shalimar, a vanilla, woodsy, floral scent that’s been igniting sparks in the 1920’s, and Fracas, a tuberose fragrance that’s been dubbed “pure sex in a bottle.”
New for Spring 2019
There’s value in having a signature scent. But there’s no harm in sniffing around. We can’t wait to try Chanel’s newest scent, 1957 which combines notes of musk. bergamot, iris, neroli, cedar, and honey. Jo Malone London has a new limited edition collection, Wild Flowers & Weeds, described as “smoky cashmere.” Feeling guilty? Sample Gucci’s latest addition to their Guilty Collection Pour Femme, a seductive bouquet of citrus and floral notes with a base of patchouli and amber.
For sex appeal alone, get a whiff of the coyly named Lost Cherry by Tom Ford. The black cherry and almond top notes have us smacking our lips. That deliciousness gives way to rose, jasmine, sandalwood, vetiver and cedar.
Rollerball Perfume Oils
The hottest trend this season is perfume oils in skinny roller-ball dispensers, perfect to tuck into your purse. They are more concentrated than alcohol-based perfumes and last longer. Our faves? Good Girl by Carolina Herrera , Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb, and Bobbi Brown Beach.
Want to know more about what goes into your perfume? Look it up on Fragrantica.com