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Some people have signature scents. The smell of roses might instantly take you back to sitting at your mom's dressing table when you were a little girl, while the smell of vanilla might make you think of baking with your grandmother. A woody scent might always remind you of your first boyfriend, and the scent of clean linen might always make you think of your husband.
Some people wear the same scent, or type of scent, throughout their lives, and it becomes a part of their character. Choosing a signature scent that perfectly captures you and what you love - or choosing a fragrance for someone else that perfectly captures who they are - can be tricky.
Fragrances 101: Scent Families
Before you can go perfume shopping, you need to get grips with some fragrance basics: scent families. Scent families are certain groups of scents that all share similar characteristics, and generally, if you like a certain scent, it's a good idea to choose another scent within that family.
Some of the most common scent families are outlined in more detail below:
- Floral/Sweet: Floral fragrances are amongst the most traditional fragrances. Think of a bouquet of flowers - rose, carnation, lavender, violet, or any other bloom that you can think of. Florals are very sweet and are ideal for wearing through the day and they're instantly recognizable.
- Citrus/Fresh/Fruity: Fruity, fresh, citrus fragrances are bright, light, clean and invigorating. They might have notes of orange, lemon, grapefruit, berries, apple, peach or even apricot and they'll be really fresh. Great for daytime.
- Oriental/Spicy: Oriental fragrances tend to be deeper and muskier than florals and citruses, with vanilla, spices, amber, incense and musk. They're dark, sexy and mysterious
- Woody/Chypre: Woody scents are more masculine but they can smell amazing on a woman too. Scents belonging to the woody family include bergamot, patchouli and moss. These scents are very earthy and intense, which makes them great for wearing in the evening.
Getting to Know Fragrance Notes
Fragrance notes are the different scents found in each fragrance. Fragrance notes change over time, so the perfume you love in store might smell completely different when you get home - which is why it's important to take a look at the fragrance notes.
- Top notes: The top notes are the scents you smell first. This is the scent that hits as soon as you spray the perfume, but it's also the scent that dissipates most quickly - so even if you love this top note, it's important to stick around and see if the middle notes and base notes are similar before you take the plunge.
- Middle notes: The middle notes appear when the top notes disappear and they make up the majority of the fragrance. Look for fragrances with middle notes that you love.
- Base notes: The base notes are the scents that provide depth to the fragrance - they sort of "back up" the middle notes and appear 20-30 minutes after application.