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Sniffing out your signature scent

If you walked into a room and it smelled like your grandmother’s oatmeal raisin cookies, you would probably be flooded with warm happy feelings and memories. The power of scent is strong – in fact, studies show that memories triggered by smell are more vivid and emotional than those evoked by sounds, words or even images. That is why it is important to pick a signature scent you feel best represents you.

As much as you remember the smell of your grade school lunch lady from the cloud of cheap perfume she was wearing, people will remember you by your scent, too. How do you want to be remembered? Picking your signature scent may go a long way in your overall impression, so choose wisely!

Which fragrance family do you belong to?

Perfumes and colognes are divided into four “fragrance families.” All scents can be classified by these general groupings: floral, woodsy, musky and fresh. These families are also sometimes grouped into sub-categories, like playful, chic and powerful, or romantic, professional and sultry. No one has to stay within one fragrance family, but many women find that the scents from one particular group are more pleasing to them and more evocative of their personality. Sniff around to figure out which scents best represent you.

Sniff your own skin

Even if you have figured out which type of scents you like, it doesn’t mean you will love how each one smells on you. The scent of a perfume will vary depending on your skin’s chemistry, and may even smell different on you when you’re 20 compared to when you’re 30.

You may love how a perfume smells on your sister, for instance, but when you spray it on, it doesn’t have the same reaction on your skin and does not smell as good. Your own body’s changes may cause a scent to vary, too. Women may want to hold off on buying a new perfume if they are pregnant, as hormonal changes can alter the body chemistry and thus the scent’s reaction with your skin. The same goes for certain illnesses, medications and medical treatments like chemotherapy.

Tricks for testing

Whether you are trying on scents at a big department store or at a small perfumery, there are certain tricks you should keep in mind to be able to fully grasp a perfume’s scent and reaction with your skin.

•     Give it some time. Perfumes evaporate in layers, and each formula has a “bouquet” with three layers. The “top notes” are the first scents you smell, which wear away after about 10 minutes. Then, the perfume’s “heart” or “middle” notes linger, followed by its essence, or “base notes” – the lasting scent. To ensure you love all three layers, wear a perfume around for at least several hours before deciding it’s the one for you.

•     Clean your slate. Many stores will have coffee beans for you to smell between perfume-sniffing, which are helpful in wiping your nose slate clean. Without this, all the smells might begin to seem the same and you risk an awful perfume headache. If the store has beans, take advantage of them. If not, keep the nook of your elbow clean for nose-freshening. After smelling a scent, sniff this spot on your arm – the smell of your skin will essentially cleanse your palette, allowing you to keep sniffing until you find The One.

It’s important to find your signature scent, but there is nothing wrong with having several “signature” scents either. You might prefer a lighter fragrance for summer and a muskier, warmer one for winter, or even one for days at work and one for nights out. Sniff your way to a scent you will be remembered by!

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing