A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Your Signature Scent

We all want to be remembered. Maybe by our character, interactions, wit, fashion sense.

But there a biological outlier that can imprint us on the minds of others, with the smallest amount of interaction. Long after parting ways, your scent will linger in their subconscious mind indefinitely. They may be walking by a stranger, or meet you again and have the jolting experience of smelling something familiar to them.

This has the potential to work in your favor. Your scent is a reflection of your identity—more than just a pleasant aroma.

Finding your signature scent is a delightful and personal experience. This step-by-step guide will help you navigate the aromatic landscape and discover the perfect scent that complements your individuality.

Step 1: Know Your Goal

This is the most important step in finding your signature scent. Knowing your goals up front will make selecting your perfect match easier and less overwhelming. There is definitely a joy when visiting a perfume counter and just exploring, but decision and nose fatigue are real things. To identify your goal, ask yourself the following:

  1. How do I want to feel?
  2. How do I want to be remembered?
  3. How long do I want it to last?
  4. Do I want a seasonal or year-round signature scent?
  5. What is my budget?

Making a list can make this easier for you. With it written down, you can reference it when you are head to go in-store to test! You are allowed to change your preferences along the way, so if you come across something you like or have a change of heart, you can adjust your goal accordingly.

Step 2: Do Your Research

Before diving into the world of fragrances, take the time to understand the basic fragrance families. Fragrances are typically categorized into four main groups, each with its unique characteristics. Doing your research on these families will make it easier to narrow down your preferences. And start with what you like! If you know you gravitate towards citrus, make that a priority. If you know you don’t like florals, you don’t need to push yourself in that direction.

Floral Fragrances

Floral fragrances, possibly the most versatile and dynamic fragrances, can range from light and airy to richly decadent. From the classic rose to the exotic jasmine, this category allows you to explore elegance and overall timelessness. Florals are not exclusively feminine and can add beautiful complexity to traditionally masculine fragrances.

Oriental Fragrances

Oriental fragrances capture the essence of warm and spicy sensuality. Rich notes such as amber, vanilla, musks, and ouds create a captivating aura that speaks deeply of mystery and allure. Oriental fragrances can be both light and strong, perfect for day or night.

Woody Fragrances

Woody fragrances are fantastically deep and complex. Including earthy notes like sandalwood, cedarwood, and patchouli, they evoke a feeling of grounding and sophistication. Depending on the composition of the perfume, woody fragrances can present as highly refined or deeply rugged.

Fresh Fragrances

Fresh fragrances give off a sense of clear, clean, and uplifting energy. They encompass citrus, aquatic, and green notes that come together to create a crisp and lively aroma, perfect for those who appreciate presenting as clean and polished. They are overall very versatile scents that work year-round.

Once you have an idea of which scent families you prefer, add those to your list and move onto the next step.

Step 3: Experiment!

This is the fun part! Now that you have your goals and list of preferences, it’s time to go out into the world and explore fragrances. Now is the time to not be picky—you’ll never know if you don’t try. Visit your local Sephora, Ulta, or fragrance counter where you can sample different perfumes. Pro tip: Ask one of the sales associates for help and share your list with them. They are professional and extremely helpful with giving direction on where to start.

Contrary to common advice, I’d suggest not putting anything directly on your skin while in-store. After spraying 2-3 perfumes on your skin, it becomes hard to distinguish between the fragrances. You also may develop a headache. Use the fragrance testing strips provided in-store, and once you find 4-5 that you like, request a sample of each to take home.

Step 4: Test on the Body

Fragrances rarely smell the same on your skin as they do in the bottle. That is because the oils in the fragrance will mix with your natural skin oils and body chemistry, changing the final scent. This is why it is important to test on the skin.

After wearing for about an hour, you want to make sure the fragrance still aligns with your preferences. After a couple of hours, you’ll get a better understanding of its longevity. Take your time exploring your various options, spraying a small amount on your wrist, and allowing the fragrance to evolve over the course of a day.

Step 5: Trust Your Instincts and Enjoy Yourself

Ultimately, the key to finding your signature scent is to trust your instincts. Pay attention to how a fragrance makes you feel and how it complements your personality. The process is meant to be fun, so let your intuition guide you toward a scent that feels true to you. And remember: you can have more than one signature scent!

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