The Nose Knows

There is nothing more luxurious than perfume. With feelings of romance and classic Hollywood aesthetics, perfume is a staple on every vanity, regardless of your scent preference. Me? I always go for the prettiest bottle. I will eye the perfume counter up and down until I see the packaging that pulls me in and then cross my fingers that I like how it smells. However, after a trip into Hudson’s Bay and chatting with one of their fabulous beauty counter experts, I learned that there is so much more than what’s on the outside, and taking the time to learn what’s in your perfume, and how to choose your perfect scent, will make all the difference.

Noted: A word I’m sure we’ve all heard regarding perfume is “note”. Scents that I assumed were just “floral” or “citrus” are actually layers of notes, blended together to make up the unique scent. The different layers of notes in perfume are key to finding your ideal scent, so it’ll be important to keep them in mind while sniffing. The top note is the strongest scent you’ll smell when you first test the perfume, and it will typically fade within 15 minutes. The middle note (a.k.a. heart note) is the body of the perfume, staying prominent and bold for several hours. When the middle fades, you’re left with the rich, heavy bottom note that will linger on the skin until the end of the day.

Spray and Escape: The biggest tip I learned while perusing the counter was rather than spritzing on a ton of options and become hypnotized by all the stunning packaging, spray each one on a different tester stick and leave the store (or better yet, go outside!). This will not only give allow you to get a sense for how the perfume will smell in your day to day life, but you’ll also save your nose from becoming overwhelmed by all the different test subjects mixing together, leaving you unsure of what you’re actually smelling.

And the winner is . . . Narrowed it down but can’t make a final decision? If you’re pretty sure you’ve got a winner, do one last skin test: spritz the fragrance on your pulse points—the neck, the wrists, the inner elbows — and, contrary to what you’ve probably always done, don’t rub it in; the friction heats up the perfume and disrupts the chemistry of the scent. Wait about 30 minutes after spraying it on before taking a final, definitive sniff. Not only will the top notes evaporate during this time, but the rest of the notes will mix with your natural scent, giving you better idea of how it’ll live on your skin.

And voila! You’ve found your perfect scent! I traditionally enjoy more fresh and masculine notes; think “just stepped out of the shower and into fresh cashmere linens” meets “a bonfire on the beach under the stars”. So, with the help of an expert (and keeping all these tips in mind), I found a few new scent faves and walked away with a perfume that was just right for me!


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Megan is a self-described geek who fancies blankets, books and tea (maybe a cat or three too)!

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