A signature scent is perhaps not the only scent you wear all the time. However, it is indeed the scent that those around you associate with you. Haven’t there been times you caught a whiff and wondered if your friend is around?

The search of the ‘one’ or your ‘soul scent’ which we in perfumery have come to refer as the signature scent is not as elusive as it sounds. The key to finding your signature fragrance is simple: find one that you truly like. However, shopping for perfumes can be a tricky and overwhelming experience with multiple brands, their different lines and then limited editions vying for your attention.

Unlike clothes, perfumes don’t come in sizes. That’s why finding your perfect fit, in fragrances, is challenging. Classification of fragrances as ‘for women’ or ‘for men’ is largely an indicator based on years of profiling the general preference guideline. However, fragrance appreciation is very personal and subjective. Hence, do not be limited to labels. Choose a perfume you like irrespective of its gender classification. If you like it and works well on you, go ahead and wear it! More than 30% of women worldwide wear fragrances classified for men. In the Middle Eastern and Indian culture, men like floral odors and are more open to using these on themselves. Perfume descriptions are often poetic representations of the mood or emotion these fragrances are meant to evoke. They can be a little too complicated if you don’t intend to do a thesis on brands and their values and fragrance notes and families.

Here are some simple tips on how to learn to follow your nose, trust your gut, and commit to a signature scent.

1. Know yourself
The first step to find your signature scent is to know yourself and embrace what you truly love. Some of my friends have confessed how they feel apologetic about not liking the best-selling perfumes. If you don’t like Chanel no 5, which is a universal best seller, it should not make you doubt your preferences. They are many women who can’t stand florals, which doesn’t make them any less of a woman or any less feminine. Fragrances are a very personal statement, and the best part is there is no right or wrong here. Understand that nobody is judging you on the choice of the perfume but yourself. So if you prefer spicy-musk over floral-fruity, so be it. It is okay not to like the fragrance that is considered sexy, and go instead opt for some refreshing cologne. Accept, embrace and love the path your nose takes you on.

2. Try it on the skin
Look beyond the labels and be open to diverse smells. You never know when you stumble upon the one that you will get to love. Since the same perfume can smell different on other people, the best is to apply the selected fragrance on the pulse points of the body and follow it over a few hours. Put it on the top of the wrists or the crook of my elbow as these are areas that aren’t getting constantly washed.

3. Refrain from an impulse purchase
Never make an impulse purchase based on smelling only the initial whiff of a fragrance in a store. A top note lasts about 20 minutes and is your first impression of the fragrance. The heart lasts for the better part of the day, about four hours.

4. Don’t put limits
One can have a couple of facets they like in a fragrance. It could be two to three different fragrances which work well for them. So you could use these maybe at different times in a day, for example, a day fragrance or an evening fragrance, at different seasons, or alternate between them as per their likings. Or you could layer them all together and create your bespoke blend. The current trend which is picking up is bespoke fragrances, a highly personalized signature scents.

5. Understand scents
Do you get a headache when you wear the scent? Or does it evoke the emotion you want to feel? These are questions you should ask yourself as you’re trying out fragrance. If you are willing to go a step further, understand how perfumes are classified in families and facets:
Musk: It is a soft, round and mellow odor.
Smoky: It can smell like a campfire burning with fragrant cedar chips, or a blown-out match. Even tar and cigar notes are classified as smoky.
Citrusy: The scent of lime, lemon, oranges and mandarin and leave you with a lingering fresh feel.
Woody: These scents can range from a creamy nutty flavor to sandalwood, to spicy and old No. 2 pencil (cedarwood).
Green: Includes the chalky aftertaste of a wheatgrass shot as well as a dewy moss on a spring morning.
Floral: Floral encompasses everything from white florals (gardenia, lilies, ylang, etc.), to roses, to violets, to peonies.
Aquatic: Think water, think light and think fresh.
Oriental: Incense sticks. It can be slightly powdery with a hint of spice or sweetness.

Once the personal liking towards a particular family or facet is determined, you need to narrow down the choice to a couple of perfumes in this olfactory group and try them out on yourself. The one that sparks joy in your soul, to whom you turn to for a second whiff is your signature scent. Always remember, labels are indicators but it pays to smell outside the box!

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