5 tips to discover new perfumes

Do you ever walk into a fragrance shop to explore new perfumes for yourself, but leave exhausted after smelling no more than 3–5 potential candidates? Well I certainly do, almost every time. I only truly enjoy testing the first two or three perfumes, trying to read them and live them. The next few perfumes I’m trying, I’m only smelling them superficially, and comparing them to the ones I tried first. Usually I’m totally exhausted on the perfume candidate #4 or #5 , thinking everything smells the same and I don’t know what I like anymore.

If you’re feeling the same way I do about perfume shopping, you might benefit from these 5 tips how to find your next favorite scent. Instead of just sticking to your good-old favorite perfume, go out and explore the scents in new ways! You might be surprised how much fun it can be, when you abandon the isles of the department store and go scent-spotting in unexpected places.

1. Spot perfumes on people

Sometimes you pass by a friend or colleague at work on close proximity and you can’t help but noticing how great they smell. You might even ask what perfume are they wearing, thinking you could get one for yourself. But have you ever done this intentionally?

While sniffing strangers in the bus might sound rather creepy, it can be quite much fun when done right. Most people wear a fragrance of some kind, which gives you a huge number of walking perfume testers each day. Next time you take an elevator, pay close attention to the people standing next to you. You don’t need to lean towards them, just turn your head a bit and concentrate. You can do this while queueing in Starbucks, in the subway, parties and events… literally anywhere!

When you spot a scent you like, just ask politely which perfume is the person wearing. People usually take this as a compliment, and they are always delighted someone noticed their scent. However, keep in mind that all the fragrances smell different on different people: always go testing the fragrance on you before buying it, or you might get disappointed!

2. Travel

This one is a no-brainer. All of us have been spending our layovers in the duty-free shops exploring different scents. While you wait for your flight, you have a great selection of mainstream perfumes available at killer prices. But have you tried shopping in the airplanes?

We know the airliners carry a selection of perfumes to buy on-board. But how many of us actually use this opportunity to explore new scents? Next time the flight attendant passes by with the duty-free cart, ask them to try one of the perfumes you haven’t explored yet. Most of the times duty-free carts have tester versions of the fragrances they sell and the flight attendants are happy to spray your wrist. The selection most of the airliners carry is quite limited, but especially if you haven’t done much scent spotting you’ll always find a few you don’t know yet.

The beauty of this is that you have a good few hours to enjoy the perfume and let it develop on your skin. You can just sit back, enjoy your flight and observe how the fragrance works for you — something you’d never probably do for several hours in your daily life. So take advantage of the time you’re trapped on you seat , and enjoy at least one new perfume!

3. Do your research

Another thing that does not cross in many people’s mind is that you should try to spot perfumes online before actually trying them on your skin. Reading and researching about perfumes is a great way to set your mind before you actually go and try them. Here’s a few things you should try:

Read online what ingredients your favorite perfumes have. Try to understand what kind of perfumes you are constantly using, and what are the olfactory groups that appeal to you the most. There’s plenty of information on the brand’s website, as well as different databases like Basenotes that you can freely use. You can also go to Fragrance By Me’s website, and input your favorite perfumes, and they’ll do the brainwork on your behalf and give you a personal perfume profile on your scent preferences. With this information at hand you can go to a shop, and tell them exactly what kind of perfumes you’d like to try.

Another thing I always recommend people is to explore different scents. If your perfume profile says you like citric and fresh scents, try something woody and oriental. Get an entire tester with you from the store and try for a few days. You might end up liking something totally different when you have the courage to venture off your comfort zone!

4. Try a perfume subscription box

You should always try a fragrance on a positive mindset and in an environment where you can concentrate on the scent. Also, you should consider that your sense of smell is at its peak in the morning.

If you’re not an early bird wanting to venture for a scent hunt before work, you might want to consider trying fragrances at home. Perfume subscription boxes are an amazing way to explore new fragrances at home when ever you find it most convenient. And it’s quite affordable as well, for $10-$20, you’ll get a monthly set of perfumes to explore.

There are multiple options to choose from, just check out what suits you the best. If you’re more experienced with fragrances, there’s even some niche perfume subscriptions out there for you to enjoy!

5. Blind test

This is probably the most fun way to discover perfumes, and it’s best done with friends. Next time you’re in the mall, try stopping by Sephora and ask a friend to spritz a perfume on your wrist with your eyes closed. Then get out, keep shopping and let the perfume develop on your skin. Don’t let her tell you what the perfume is before you get to form an opinion on it yourself, and lived through the entire cycle of the perfume from top to base notes.

Blind testing is a great way to discover fragrances because we are so susceptible to brands. We often make a decision about the scent before we even give it a chance and smell it. Also we usually judge the perfume by it’s bottle. I commit to the same error, I always go to the pretty bottles that appeal to me. We end up limited by the brand bias and we don’t explore the scents that may be amazing but packaged in something that does not please us visually.

I found one of my favorites by blind testing a few years ago. My friend sprayed Guerlain’s Terracotta on my wrist at the airport a few years back. She probably picked this perfume for me to blind test, because she knew I would never go for it myself: the brand does not really speak to me, and I’ve always felt rather indifferent about their fragrances. I don’t really like the Terracotta bottle, it screams to me about a clinical boring boardroom scent. But in reality the fragrance was totally different, and it ended up working perfectly for me: Tropical fruity scents that I’ve always adored, combined with clean white florals, ylang ylang and bergamot. Nothing overly complicated, but still having this interesting oriental warm-sweet twist.

Hope you’ll enjoy exploring new fragrances as much as I do with these tips. Next time I’ll be writing more about the bias we have for brands and pretty bottles when choosing a scent. So stay tuned!