Smell is the strongest sense we have.

In fact, olfaction (sense of smell) lies somewhere between emotion and memory. It reacts even before the receptors in the brain can process the message. Hence fragrances make the most personal gifts and are high up on all gifting occasions. Since fragrances are personal experiences, there are no good or bad ones, just the ones that talk to your soul and lift your energies. While giving a fragrance we want to gift one that he/she will love and cherish. And each time they wear perfume, they will think of you. So, yes gifting a fragrance is a powerful act as it not only evokes memories but also connects you to the memory of the receiver.

But entering a perfume counter or logging on a perfume site with multiple brands and different genres of fragrances fighting for your attention can be a daunting task. We asked an industry insider on how to select the best perfumes for your friends and family. Rajiv Sheth, creative director of All Good Scents (a perfumer trained at the prestigious I.S.I.P.C.A Versailles, France) and a leading fragrance expert shares his foolproof guide to gifting perfumes…

Take cues from their current favourite

If you are buying a perfume for someone in your inner circle and you know their favourite perfume, then finding the right fragrance to gift is the least challenging.

Go to a perfume store, and the fragrance expert should be able to suggest something similar, or in the same family. This gives you options to consider and it also saves time. However, you might consider adding some toiletries available in the same fragrance along with it. Alternatively, a limited edition or special version of the fragrance if available would make for a safe gift too. Now, if you don’t know the favourite perfume, then try to get some hints from the person’s personality –clothing, colour, choices and character – which are very easy indicators in selecting a perfect fragrance as a gift.

Step-by-step, find the one

This one can surely be very daunting! Especially, these days when we have almost about 1000 new fragrances being launched each year around the world.

  1.    The best way is to find out about the fragrance facets which the person likes or decode them as mentioned in the points above. Then find the fragrances which belong to this family, both classics and new ones. Narrow down your choice to three to four fragrances. If possible go someplace where you can smell them and finalise!
  2.    To know what’s the receiver’s favourite brand might also help. The fragrance might not work totally for the person, but the brand will probably make up for it.
  3.    Price. Narrow down the choice falling in the budget.
  4.    Read reviews online on certain great blog sites or discussion platforms.
  5.    Lastly, if in doubt, select what I call the least risky types, which are generally, floral- fruity for women and fresh-sporty & woody ones for men.
  6.    The last one is to gift a voucher and let the person select her own fragrance.

It’s not about you

The secret of people who give great gifts is they think of the recipient rather than of themselves.

Gifting someone a fragrance you like might not work out as the best option as it is a personal choice. So sideline your personal favourites and keep an open nose. In France, I know you can go to the store from which the perfume was gifted and exchange it. Hence if men don’t know what fragrance to buy, they usually bought Chanel N5. And almost 50 percent of the women who were gifted this, went and exchanged it! Here in India such practice not so common and hence gift cards are a good option to use.

Match the personality to the perfume

It’s no revelation that we wear fragrances that reflect our mood. There are seven perfume families – floral, aromatic, woody, leather, oriental, fougere, chypre and citrus – in which most of the fragrances can be classified.

Further, these families are then divided into 19 olfactory facets, each evokes an emotion. But choosing a scent is not so technical or some kind of rocket science. As a perfumer, I advise my clients to ignore the actual notes and instead focus on the personality traits of the wearer, whether it’s them or someone special to them. A scent is often described in the same words as you would describe someone’s personality –bright or subtle, intense or sparkling, light and sensual; complex or simple; natural or sophisticated. You’ll be surprised how easily you can home on to the right scent if you know the description of the wearer-to-be!

Classics or innovations?

This entirely depends on the preferences and personalities of the wearer.

Some people have signature fragrances, and they only use those perfumes through their lives. Then it’s best to gift them the same fragrance that they use or line extension products in the same family. For perfume enthusiasts who are experimental and adventurous, step outside the box and introduce them to a new brand and a new olfactory universe. They might remember you for life for helping them get closer to a scent that they may not have considered.

But, if in doubt, select what I call the eternal pleasers, which are generally, floral-fruity for women and fresh-sporty & woody ones for men.

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