by Andrea Campbell
The most affordable way to add luxury to your life is with fabulous perfumes and fragrances, but how do you choose the right scent for you? Fragrances trigger memories, and your signature fragrance should be remembered not only in thoughtful terms but also as the captivating presence of you, something that leaves a lasting impression of your good taste.
Collect fashion magazines and test out all the fragrance ads. After you've bathed and have clean skin, rub the perfume strips across your wrist and up to your elbow. Don't use more than one at a time. Wonderful smells are created from scratch, and great perfumes have layers of individual oils called "notes." If the smell doesn't break down too soon, it may be more complicated. If that feels right, it's yours. If you love the fragrance but it doesn't last on you, purchase a fragrance set and layer, using the matching lotion or powder, too.
Determine your favorite scents. Think of your favorite memories and the scents associated with them. Would you say you like fresh-baked cookies; the ocean on a warm summer day; a bouquet of fresh flowers; an exotic getaway; a walk in the woods after a light rain; or the cozy warmth of a cashmere sweater? Each of these memories can be reflected by the scent of a perfume or cologne.
Look for an essence. Food smells translate into fragrances using oils of vanilla, honey, cinnamon, coffee or cream. Spring and summer are fruity or flowery; they may have hints of jasmine, tangerine, roses or lilies. Exotic getaways bring up amber scents, like those in the spicy or oriental family. Woody, mossy scents are classic and feature spices, like coriander and vanilla. The ocean smells are clean and bright, androgynous and modern. Cashmere sweaters are warm and soft like powder, sandalwood and musk.
Look around your home for other clues into your fragrance psyche. For example, what types of candles do you buy? Do you like apple, strawberry or vanilla? Which household cleaners do you like? Do prefer pine cleaners over those scented with orange oil? The air fresheners, shampoos and body products you have already chosen give signs about which fragrance family you return to.
Consider the season. Earthy, spicy or musky scents may feel too heavy in the summer, but those same heavy scents work well in the winter. Spring's smells are light and sweet, while summer's notes are floral and oceanic. Humidity and how you sweat can also intensify a fragrance.
Your lifestyle should be reflected in the fragrance you choose. For example, a runner is a sporty person and her cologne should reflect that. On the other hand, a homebody would want to try a fresh linen scent or a fragrance that smells like fresh-baked treats.
The difference between perfumes, eau de toilettes and colognes are the concentration of ingredients. The higher the concentration, the longer the fragrance lasts (and usually the higher the price, too). Perfume is the strongest, an eau de toilette is lighter, and cologne has the lowest concentration of ingredients.
A little fragrance goes a long way. Don't over-apply. Just apply a dab behind your ears or the back of your neck and on your wrists. You can also add a bit to your cleavage and behind your knees, the other pulse points.