How to Buy Perfume

Shopping for perfumes or personal fragrances can be a daunting task, particularly if it's for a friend or lover. Obviously online at you cannot compare the actual scent of different fragrances. But, once you have a fairly good idea of what you are looking for, you can compare the different offerings from different brands and vendors very easily. So, how do you know what you are looking for? The following simple steps will narrow the search down somewhat.

The fragrance must suit the personality

The essential oils of a perfume react differently with each different person. Some perfumes are more suited to some personalities than others, and some perfumes are gregarious, others are more reserved. Your choice needs to suit the wearer's attitude as well as demeanour, as well as reflect the status of your relationship with the wearer. For example, you wouldn't buy the same fragrance for your mother as you would for a recently acquired girlfriend.

There are six different categories of scent that express different moods. If you know the favourite brand of the person you are buying for, a scent in the same family, or one in a complimentary family will be a reasonably safe purchase.


This is the largest and most popular category and is created mainly from flowers, including rose, carnation, orange blossom, gardenia and jasmine. These are often blended together to produce a distinctive floral bouquet. Some popular examples in this category include Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Ralph Lauren Romance and Yves St. Laurent Paris.


Fragrances in this group come from citrus fruits such as lime, lemon, tangerine and mandarin. These fragrances project a sharp, tangy aura, which are naturally refreshing and uplifting. Citrus blends are among the oldest known scents. They were first worn by men and are now popular with women as well. Some popular examples include Calvin Klein CK One, Gucci Gucci and Jessica McClintock Jess.

Chypre (Cyprus)

This is a woody fragrance created by French perfumer Francois Coty, based on his impression of the island of Cyprus. The fragrance is dominated by pine aromas with hints of bergamot, oak moss, citrus and patchouli providing an earthy suite of aromas. Some popular examples include Dior Miss Dior, Hermes Caleche, and Cindy Adams Gossip.


Oriental fragrances are a heady mix of spices, amber, balsams and resins suggesting warmth and exotic sensuality, and are popular for evening wear. Some examples include Calvin Klein Obsession, Yves St. Laurent Opium and Five Star Royal Secret.


Green fragrances are fresh and alive aromas, with a hint of sharpness from young grassy scents blended with pine, juniper, leaves and herbs to create memorable perfumes. They reflect sporty personalities and most suited to daytime wear. Popular examples include Cartier So Pretty, Ralph Lauren Safari and Hanae Mori Haute Couture.


This sixth category is a combination of fresh herbs and mossy ferns blended in to produce a sophisticated urban style, with earthy overtures. Some popular examples include Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass, Perry Ellis Reserve, and Davidoff Cool Water.

Seasons and Strengths

The choice of fragrance that one wears is often affected by season and event. Summer calls for cooler lighter fragrances, whereas winter might suggest more intimate and warmer aromas. Spring is the return of freshness, and autumn is a period of subtlety.

Daywear and a choice for everyday work calls for a different perfume to an evening out. An intimate dinner might suggest a different aroma to a family get-together. When you are buying perfume for someone, consider when he or she might wear your choice.

The other consideration is the relative strengths of the essential oils, and the amount they are diluted. There are four different categories according to the strength of the oils.

  • Eau de parfum is the strongest concentration and typically contains 15 - 22 percent essential oils.
  • Eau de toilette has a typical concentration of 8 to 15 percent essential oils.
  • Eau de cologne (or Cologne) has a concentration of 4 to 8 percent of essential oils.
  • Eau fraiche is the most diluted of scent with just 1 to 3 percent concentration of essential oils.

The degree of concentration often suggests the size of the bottle and its price point. A larger portion will cost less per millilitre, but even small quantities of popular choices can cost a lot of money. This is where making comparisons with can really pay off. The standard fragrance size bottles are usually in the 50ml, 75ml, 100ml or 125ml range. You can buy what is commonly known as a trial size, and this is a good choice if you are experimenting with new fragrances or just want a choice for travelling. These are usually 25ml to 40ml. Finally, a collector's size that is commonly known as a miniature bottle might be 7ml or 10ml.

Trials and Testing

It is common practice when buying a perfume is to visit the fragrance counter and spray different scents on different parts of your body so you can compare them. We suggest you avoid this because after two or three applications your olfactory responses (that's your smell and taste senses) can easily be confused and your brain will be remembering and blending previous sniffs rather than sampling new ones. Secondly, how are you going to remember which you sprayed where. If you are going live shopping, we suggest you do something more like this.

Use fragrance blotters to gather your samples of different scents. These are small porous cards and are usually available at the perfume counter. Once you've sprayed the card you can write the name of the fragrance on the reverse side, that way you can identify the fragrance when you need to, and you can more readily compare the different aromas.

All fragrances take a few minutes to develop once they've been exposed to the atmosphere. Allow a few little time after it's been applied before sniffing the fragrance. To overcome nose fatigue (confusion of the olfactory), leave the smelling alone for a while and take in some fresh air, or smell something that carries your own body odour (armpit of your shirt sleeve for example). Sometimes eating a mint can refresh your olfactory senses.

Try to narrow your selection to two or three fragrances and then spray some on your skin, making a point to remember what you sprayed where. Now you need to go and do something else. You need to remove yourself from the perfumery (too many other smells in the air) and take your mind off the fragrance shopping altogether.

Let ten or fifteen minutes go by and then smell those parts of your skin that you sprayed. Let your gut reaction tell you which is the most effective, relative to the reason you are buying the fragrance. Then go to and find that fragrance and compare prices and vendors.

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