When it comes down to choosing a fragrance, it should be one question you ask yourself: do I like the way it smells on me? But since many of us over analyze things and don't know the makings of a fragrance, the process can be a bit more daunting and complicated. Everything from brand name and tagline, to packaging, and the words used to describe the scent can go into the decision-making process. Also, many people don't know that fragrances can be layered to create your [own] signature scent; to help you understand fragrances and how to layer them, I'm going to breakdown the process for you along with tips on how to layer below.
Before you can understand what a 'note' is, you'll need to understand the making of a scent. Fragrances are a blend of molecules—some heavy, some light—these molecules are smelled through your nose and recognized by the brain as a particular scent. When the molecules reach a given temperature, the lighter notes are noticed first, while the heavier ones will take more time. The scent you smell in the first 15 minutes after spraying it on your skin are the top notes, and the remaining notes will become present over two-to-three hours of wear.
In this stage, you'll need to know what works best for you; take a moment to find the notes in some of your favorite fragrances.
Fragrances are a living material because of its chemistry that interacts with both the ingredients and your skin; the chemistry can be altered based on your skin type, what you eat, or your body temperature; all of this will change the notes of the fragrance and make it smell different one person to another. To find the perfect fragrance that works with your chemistry, test three of your favorite scents on your skin (hands and arms) and see how they interact with your body; test this for a couple of days to see which works best for you.
Once you determine how your body adjusts the chemistry of a scent and which notes you prefer, you'll be able to start creating your [own] blend by pairing different fragrances. To understand which fragrances work well together, choose notes that are opposite of each other—citrus and floral work well with musk, or vanilla with floral; here's how you can do it.
Start with a basic, single-note scent as they're easiest to layer. Most designer or branded fragrances are already layered, this makes it much more difficult to combine with others, however, it can be done. If you want to layer a more compact fragrance, keep things simple, or you'll end up smelling like a perfume counter. Also, think of how the notes are layered—the base note (your strongest) will be the starting layer; this can be musk, wood, or patchoulis, remember this will be the note that sticks around for four-to-six hours. Next, you'll need your middle note; this will add character to your fragrance, so choose a scent that's bold, think amber or sweet scents. Your last note will be the one you smell first and the first to disappear, so use a scent that's light like florals or citrus. You'll also want to layer your fragrance in this order, starting with your strongest scent first; if you did it in the reverse, you'd only smell the heavier note.
When you layer, it’s about creating a balance, and the easiest way to create a one is to find two perfumes with a unifying note. Read the labels or ask a sales associate what notes are in the fragrances and determine the common notes between the two. For example, if two different fragrances have a heart note of lavender, the remaining notes featured will tend to compliment the others.
Now that we've covered how scents are created and how you can layer your fragrances let's looks at the best fragrances to layer. These are my top 5 picks:
Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense - This brand is by far the best to layer
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum - Love this on it's own, but great to layer with other Tom Ford fragrances
Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue Pure Perfume - This has multiple notes, but layer with deeper notes to balance the citrus
Fresh Cannabis Santal - A great scent for winter that can easily move into Spring by layering florals and citrus.
Kiehl's Musk Eau de Toilette Spray - Such a masculine scent that can easily layer with almost any fragrance.