Have you ever wondered why a certain well-groomed woman always smells absolutely smashing, and you who put on scent religiously each morning, feel it has left your skin before you’ve left the house? The answer probably is that you haven’t learned to use it to its best advantage.
Today the art of using perfume is undergoing a change. It is no longer a matter of keeping one prized bottle for special occasions but of enjoying different types of fragrances for many different occasions. You could say perfume has become emancipated.
Does this confuse you? No need to let it, because you will find all you need to know to discover the scent that is right for you. But first, there is more to learn. Like a poem, each perfume has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The perfume you place on your wrist in a department store will smell quite different as it passes through the three stages of its life.
How can you tell if a perfume suits you?
During the first stage, when you have spread it on your wrist, you smell the “top notes.” These are the odors that immediately appear. Then the “heart” of the perfume takes over, and this stays for about 40 minutes.
Later, the “heart” fades and the “base” takes over. This is the residual scent – the true aroma. Before it emerges you will have left the store. Before you buy, allow each perfume time to develop to the base – and don’t try more than two at any one time (one on each of your wrists).
Eau de cologne is fun to use. It is light and splashable. If you like to splash scent around your throat, across the back of your neck, along the inner arms, this is for you because it is difficult to overdo it.
If you do the same with a concentrate the scent is overpowering. Concentrate needs only a tiny dab on each wrist, behind the ears and between the breasts. Eau de cologne is usually in an atomizer or large bottle, concentrate comes in small bottles.
Small bottles are best. Those huge bottles in duty-free shops are fabulous but they will deteriorate in sunlight and heat. As soon as a perfume makes contact with the air it begins to age. Keep to smaller bottles for choice.
You spray or dab, and you do it about every four hours. That’s approximately how long it takes before a perfume begins to fade. Don’t rub but smear it lightly across the skin so it does not mix with heavier body oils. To carry fragrance all around you, spray a little on the lining of your clothes where they are in close contact with the skin (be careful with delicate fabrics).
Wearing scent is an art
Quite simply it means understanding your skin and body. Did you know, for example, that when you diet, the chemical content of your skin alters? This in turn modifies the scent you wear. If this happens it is time to look for a scent that suits the new acidity level of the skin.
Start scenting your life in your morning shower. If you can, back up your favorite scent with soap and talc to match. Talc absorbs body perspiration. It is good for oily skins, but if your skin is dry you may prefer to smear a bath oil over your body.
- Bath oils don’t have to be costly. Take a bottle of baby oil, put in it three or four drops of your perfume. Use this daily for a skin rub, or use a body cream with a matching fragrance.
- While your skin is still warm and moist, put on your scent. Warm skin accepts scent readily so it gives off its finest notes sooner. Where to apply cologne or perfume? On the wrists, behind the ears, on all the pulse points.
- You’re set, the perfume will last about 4 hours. Then it is time for a touch-up, in the same spots, with almost the same amount.
- If you’d like one scent wafting right through your wardrobe, sprinkle a little perfume on cotton wool balls and leave them in drawers, or pinned inside hanging clothes.
How do you know if perfume is too strong?
There is really only one way. If you can smell the perfume on yourself quite definitely, then you have used too much. You don’t necessarily have to wear more scent at night because the senses are heightened in the dark, so it is more easily smelt.
- DO be careful of mixing pearls and perfume. Pearls may discolor if they are in constant contact with certain perfumes. This is no problem: just wear your fragrance on your wrists, between the breasts and on the inside of your elbows.
- DO stop smoking if you can. Cigarette smoking affects the acidity of the skin and spoils a good perfume.
- DON’T buy a scent because you like it on a friend. It is almost guaranteed to smell differently on you.
- DON’T buy perfume by smelling it from the bottle. You need to wear it a few hours for the true fragrance to emerge.
- DON’T store scent for a very long time, it will deteriorate. The best way to store it is in a cool, dark cupboard.
- DON’T mix sun and scent. The sunlight reacts with some perfumes and can leave blotchy stains on the skin.
Women who like the florals often adore chocolates, feminine clothes, and gifts of flowers – and probably enjoy sweet wines. Florals top the list of best-loved feminine perfumes.
They appeal to young and old because you can vary their intensity. As an eau de toilette they are light and splashable; as a concentrate they become heady.
- Ingredients: Jasmine and rose are the two most prized sweet floral notes. Others are lily of the valley, narcissus, gardenia, tuberose, violet, mimosa, lavender, and jonquil.
- How to wear them: Use a cologne during the day, splashing it around wrists and neck, a concentrate at night. But be careful, a floral scent can be very strong if overused and then it becomes offensive. Fair-haired, fair-skinned women who drink or smoke should not wear sweet florals. Both alcohol and cigarettes are drying and can make the skin more acid. Then the perfume can take on a sour note.
- Examples: Diorissimo, Fidji, Diorella, Blue Grass, Eau de Patou, Aquamarine, Flower Talk, Idole, Muguet des Bois, Norell.
Oriental spicy perfume
In the exotic East, men discovered that the two most exotic fragrances were musk and patchouli. Of course, it did not take long for Europeans to snap them up. Originally musk came from the male musk deer in Tibet, now it is synthesized.
These perfumes reputedly strike the perfect balance of flower and spice. They conjure up an air of gentle mystery, self-assurance, graciousness. Women who choose them like a luxury, but are usually generous themselves.
- Ingredients: Often two contrasting aromas are blended – light notes on a spicy base. There are also well-mixed florals with wood notes (cedars, pine) plus ylang-ylang, oakmoss, patchouli, and sandalwood – these are the sultry, heady perfumes of the East.
- How to wear them: You can wear these through the day, but be light-handed, use just a little eau de toilette. At night you can be more extravagant. It is wrong to wear perfumes from the oriental category only. Absolutely everyone has moments in their life when they feel flowery, light-hearted, or sporty. Choose more than one perfume to complement your wardrobe. The seasons can affect your choices too. You may find an oriental fragrance that is perfect in winter will seem too heady in summer, and you will want something light for fresh spring days.
- Examples: Jicky, Tabu, Shalimar, Youth Dew, Ultima II, Shocking, Bal a Versailles, Vol de Nuit, Herbessence.
Floral citrus perfume
These fresh scents, born from a blend of florals and citrus, have been created by perfumiers who said, “Let the woman of today have her very own fragrance.”
These perfumes are light, not tenacious, and they are pleasing to all noses. They adapt to a busy lifestyle – and that means they’re right for everyone.
- Ingredients: The classic florals are the base – jasmine and rose. Then the green notes are added – lemon, lime, orange blossom. Some modern fragrances have synthetic components, but that only makes them cheaper because expensive oils and fixatives are replaced with synthetics that are perfectly adequate substitutes for the real thing. (Don’t worry, the fragrance is just as good and you save money).
- How to wear them: Use these rather sparingly – they are meant to be light and brisk. They are remarkably adaptable. Anyone fragrance is different on every woman, due to skin variations. A perfume like Cie will take on a hundred different notes on different women. Isn’t it nice that they are so individual – like women today?
- Examples: Cie, Blazer, Aviance, Charlie, Cachet, Maxi, Alliage.
Woody floral perfume
More than 200 years ago the French glove manufacturing family, Guerlain, realized that women wanted perfumes and these were among the first commercial fragrances. In the 1820s they marketed heady floral perfumes for all women – not just the wealthy.
These fragrances are sweet, but they are also exotic. They spell seduction and appeal to sensuous, romantic natures. These are the fragrances men love most because there are sweet tones, shaded with headier ones. Women with strong personalities choose them because they make a memorable statement.
- Ingredients: Rose, jasmine, and carnation are the classic heady florals. Added to them are ylang-ylang (“flower of flowers,” a haunting blossom from the islands), orange blossom and bergamot (a European fruit like a sour green apple).
- How to wear them: Keep them for the evening. They are heady enough to create an exotic aura. They particularly suit women with olive or oily complexions, because the oil base of the perfume is happily accepted by a skin that tends to be oily. The senses of taste and smell are so closely linked that you can almost “taste” these perfumes. That is why they create memories of people who wear them.
- Examples: Joy, Caleche, Arpege, Je Reviens, Calandre, Chamade.
How to surround yourself delicately with fragrance
Notes for gardeners
Gather your rose petals and other faded blossoms and recycle them into sachets. Let them dry among a few cloves and other spices. Center them in a square of pretty material (with pinked edges), pull the corners together, and tie with a ribbon. Toss them into your clothes drawers or wherever you’d like that “summer-all-year-round” reminder.
Switch on a favorite fragrance next time you turn on the bedside lamp. A few drops of oil-based scent on the light bulb does the trick. The heat from the bulb releases the scent in the same way heat from your body releases the perfume you wear.
Don’t throw away empty scent bottles. Tuck them into drawers or the wardrobe to get the last of their lingering enchantment.
This is made easily by collecting flowers and drying them in the same way as for the sachet. Fill pretty jars with the dried flowers and leave them around the house. The fragrance will remain and the dried flowers, if colored, will contribute to the decoration.
Perfume that lingers
Reinforce fragrances with a bath oil, talc, and even a body lotion of the same scent. There are many co-ordinated fragrances.
- Avon’s Charisma in a cream sachet, talc and after-bath freshener.
- Yardley’s Sea Jade with soap, cologne, all-over shampoo, foam bath and hand lotion.
- Harriet Hubbard Ayer’s Luxuria with milk bath, moisturizing bubble bath, shower foam gel, cream soap and super moisturizing body cream.
- Guy Laroche’s Douceline with a soothing bath oil, bubbling bath, dusting powder and body milk lotion.
- Cyclax’s Joie De Vivre in a talc, hand lotion, bath soap and spray mist.
Now that your skin is scented here are five more ways to a fragrant mood:
- Put a few drops of scent in the rinsing water after a hair shampoo.
- Add a few drops to the last rinse of lingerie laundry.
- Spray linings of drawers and wardrobe.
- Saturate tissues with fragrance and leave them among clothes.
- Always carry a purse-size bottle of your favorite scent with you. It can give your spirits a lift in those moments when they begin to sag.
To choose a perfume
Experiment. Go to a department store and try two different perfumes each day until you find one that suits you. But never try more than two at a time.
Why does perfume cost so much?
In every perfume, there are dozens of different kinds of flowers, grasses, roots, oils and fixatives blended over a period of time. Then compare the price with the months the fragrance will last you – and the cost is small.