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5 Ways to Pick the Perfect Perfume

With so many spritzes and sprays out there, shopping for perfume can lead to serious sensory overload. Fragrance expert and V.P. of Business Development for FragranceNet.com, Patti Kapla, shares how you can find your signature scent in five easy steps.

Stick with Your Family
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Take a whiff of the perfumes you own−chances are, they’re all fairly similar. “People tend to gravitate toward one, overarching fragrance category,” says Kapla. When shopping, it’s best to stick within that same general family and experiment with different notes. If you’re go-to is a rosy fragrance, try one with jasmine or violet—different kinds of florals. By sticking to one category, you’ll dramatically narrow down your initial search. (Common fragrance families include floral, oriental, citrus, marine, and chypre−exotic, spicy scents.)

Rise and Sniff
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When it comes to fragrance shopping, the early bird gets the worm. Your sense of smell is heightened in the morning, before you’re exposed to all the different scents you encounter during an average day, explains Kapla.  Start sniffing as early as possible in order to make the most of the experience. Anxiety also intensifies your sense of smell, so consider fragrance shopping the next time you’re stressed.

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Spray and Stop
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Grab two or three different bottles that appeal to you and spritz onto a paper blotter. No blotters in the store? Spray into the inside of the cap instead (don’t test on yourself quite yet). Take one sniff, then stop. Shop for something else, get a soda, do anything but smell the perfume for thirty minutes or so. “You have to give the fragrance time to dry down so that the base notes come through,” says Kapla. “By the time you smell it again, you’ll have the most well-rounded version.”

Neutralize Your Nose
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“Our olfactory glands get fatigued after about three scents,” says Kapla. The result? You won’t be able to accurately differentiate the fragrances (and can wind up with a headache). Sniff something neutral, like a tissue or piece of paper, after every two to three perfumes to help reset your sense of smell.

Do a Test Run
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Once you’ve found a few perfumes you really like, ask for samples to take home and wear, as the same fragrance will smell different on everyone: “The notes mix with your body’s natural oils and pheromones, resulting in a subtle changes,” explains Kapla. Try one per day, and be sure to avoid using scented body lotions or laundry detergents; they can alter the perfume. Pick a winner based on your initial reaction. “Our sense of smell is extremely visceral. At the end of the day, it’s always best to go with the one you just couldn’t stop sniffing,” advises Kapla.

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